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After years of waiting and watching as the tech elite posted awkward selfies of themselves enjoying the latest VR headgear, the public will now be able to place orders for the Oculus Rift. The VR headset made by Oculus, which Facebook bought two years ago for $2 billion, will sell for $600 and start shipping March 28.
Without experiences ready to play with, though, Oculus buyers will be confronted by the desert of the real. So Oculus is partnering with VR game makers on the first round of shipments.
“Rift includes the headset with built-in headphones and mic, sensor, and an Xbox One controller. The controller is perfect for a variety of games, including Lucky’s Tale, the amazing VR platformer developed by Playful, that we’re including free with every Rift,” notes the company blog post, along with an image of the goodies included.
Lucky’s Tale is a VR game made by a new company, Playful. Significantly, Playful’s founder is Paul Battner, a cofounder of Words With Friend maker Newtoy, which rose to fame with a set of social and mobile apps. Battner, in other words, is no stranger to Facebook’s platforms.
To be sure, the potential uses for virtual-reality gear are much more expansive than just video games. Last year, I got to experiment with a new virtual-reality Vice news story at the TED conference, wherein I learned about the troubles of Syrian refugees in first-person perspective. It was a (very) compelling what to learn the about the plight of refugees, but in a format that was more memorable than a text-based story.
Facebook has moved from text to photos to 2D videos to 360-degree videos; it’s clear that some kind of support for virtual reality within the core Facebook app as well as Facebook’s WhatsApp and Instagram subsidiaries could be coming.
What matters now is that the public gets its hands on VR tech. As that happens, a new medium will be open for developers to craft innovative content. This is just the beginning.
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Photos courtesy of Oculus