If you’ve been following the latest in VR news with even rudimentary interest over the course of the last few months, you will know that this is a key moment for Oculus as their flagship HMD, the Rift, is growing past its roots as a DevKit and undergoing its first consumer launch. Now I don’t think there is a product launch on the planet that has gone without at least a couple of hiccups along the way, especially when you are dealing with a company as fresh to the game as Oculus is (the company itself formed in June 2012 and released their first devkit the same year), but it seems as though Oculus has felt the effects of Murphy’s Law (“whatever can go wrong, will go wrong”) a little more than most this spring, as their release has been fraught with both shipping issues and a host of lukewarm reviews; neither of which are something that a company with so much promise for changing the future of computing wants to see.
Now as far as the lukewarm reception has been, most of *those* reviewers have also made it a point to press home on the positive side of this new breed of VR.
It is widely accepted that the Rift is indeed an amazing product, but communication has been handled badly on Oculus side towards its consumers, and there are still some glaring issues such as the lack of proper VR controls (Oculus Touch isn’t set to release until much later in the year) and some (arguably blown-out-of-proportion) issues with the optics.
All of that seems to pale in comparison though to what can only be called a fiasco in the way that Oculus handled its shipping. Early preorders were set to receive their Rifts in March, and while a few of the Kickstarter backers received their KS edition Rifts gratis on March 28, the rest of the preorders sat (myself included) and waited for nearly a week with absolutely no communication on the matter, before Oculus finally stepped up and announced that shipments were being delayed due to an unexpected component shortage. Now exactly what that component is is anyone’s guess, with some people shaking their fists at Microsoft thinking that perhaps the to-be-bundled Xbox One controller is to blame and others surmising an issue with the product packaging itself, but the general consensus is that the launch has been a bit of a “clusterfuck” with a fair share of displeased VR-goers jumping ship to trade in their Rift orders for Oculus competitor HMD, the HTC/Valve made Vive.
One might wonder at this point, just what kind of damage control Oculus might use to disseminate the pitchfork-and-torch-wielding masses in order to avoid what might surely develop into some form of virtual-mutiny and tarnish their brand forever were it to be simply overlooked. An apology and some Oculus Home credit perhaps? A couple of extra free games? Hookers and Blow (virtual of course, calm down you animals)?
No, even better (except for perhaps the hookers and blow)!
As announced by Oculus via email over the course of the last 24 hours (or so) and confirmed by /r/Oculus resident and most revered hype-manager and Oculus official /u/TheTwistgibber, as well as Oculus CEO Mr. Brandon Iribe himself via this twitter post, all Rift pre-orders up to and including those made on April 1st (yesterday) will enjoy 100% free shipping (yes, that even includes you Aussies and your horribly over-priced $100 plus dollery-doo charges), so put down the baseball bats and bowie knives and give these guys a round of applause, because if there ever was a good way to ameliorate the feelings of being wronged for some great big shipping mishap, it is most definitely something so magnanimous as footing the bill for what must amount to millions of dollars of free shipping (yes, I realize the way I worded that may be wrong, but it feels right ok?).
There is still a delay of what may be a week or two, so if you are an early preorder be prepared to wait a tad longer than expected, but Oculus promise they will be ramping up production as soon as they can and later preorders, such as those set to arrive in late April and May, should be unaffected.
So there you have it everybody, Oculus is the good guy once again. Shit happens, especially when you are dealing with the birthing of what is arguably the best consumer Virtual Reality device we have ever laid our eyes inside of, and I for one am more stoked than I have ever been for my Rift to arrive!
So I can finally see all that VR porn the way it was meant to be seen of course!