Oculus' Palmer Luckey discusses Oculus Rift price criticism, front-facing camera, Apple, and more

As part of the recent Xbox press event, Shacknews' Greg Burke had the opportunity to speak with Oculus founder Palmer Luckey about Oculus Rift, the company's focus going forward, possible Mac support, and the reception to the Rift's $600 price tag.


The folks at Xbox recently held a press event featuring a chunk of its spring lineup and Oculus was among those in attendance. Our own Greg Burke managed to stop and chat with company founder Palmer Luckey about various items regarding virtual reality. That includes the focus on hardware and software, the lack of a front-facing camera, potential Mac support, and media reaction to the price of the Oculus Rift VR headset.

"I don't want to say it was blown out of proportion, as everyone's interpretation is valid," Luckey told Shacknews. "But at the end of the day, we're building a really good product. We've talked about the fact that we're not making any money off the hardware. It costs a lot of money to make a really high-end VR headset and for those $600, you're getting a lot more than you get spending it on a phone or on a TV. You're getting multiple OLED displays, a high-precision tracking system, a lot of really fancy and robust and precise mechanicals, really high-end optics that rival the complexity of many DSLR lenses. You're getting a lot of stuff for that $600. When you buy a phone for $600, you're not getting nearly as much stuff for that $600. Over time, cost is going to go down, quality is going to go up. The good news is that there's a lot of different people in the market, including people like Samsung with Gear VR that are really serving the lower end of the market. I think that we're doing the right thing by releasing a product that pushes VR as far as possible that really makes an incredible experience."

For more with Palmer Luckey, check out the full interview below.

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Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
    • reply
      March 1, 2016 2:35 PM

      ...nailed it.

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        March 1, 2016 3:45 PM

        You did. You asked some really good questions. If there is a next time:

        1. Do you regret not focusing more on getting "touch" ready for launch given controllers are seen as one of the Vive's greatest selling points?
        2. Why didn't you choose to use Lighthouse instead of using Constellation?
        3. When will roomscale with the rift be discussed?

        • rms legacy 10 years legacy 20 years mercury super mega
          March 1, 2016 7:21 PM

          These three questions are the elephants in the room. After seeing a couple vids showing how precise, accurate, and easy to develop for (the Brookhaven Experiment took 3weeks?!? to get running http://www.polygon.com/features/2016/2/26/11113162/the-brookhaven-experiment-phosphor-games) the vive controllers are, those of us with Rift pre-orders are worried that Oculus made a bad tracking design choice and are scrambling to cobble something together, while we are glumly stuck with a lowly xbox controller. Oy.

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      March 1, 2016 3:02 PM

      Palmer Luckey on Mac Oculus Rift Support, "If they ever release a good computer we'll do it."

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        March 1, 2016 3:09 PM

        That's a pretty low blow.

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        March 1, 2016 3:18 PM


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        March 1, 2016 3:18 PM

        Haha take it Johnny.

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        March 1, 2016 3:19 PM


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        March 1, 2016 3:20 PM

        strong words coming from a facebook employee

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          March 1, 2016 3:39 PM

          I bet Palmer is the guy that keeps scratching out Black and putting All on Zucker's Wall.

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            March 1, 2016 3:41 PM

            i hadn't thought about it but given that his SO is a gamergater he actually probably is

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        March 1, 2016 3:20 PM

        Right in the plums

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        March 1, 2016 3:21 PM

        Flying Autistic 1; Mac Owners 0.

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        March 1, 2016 3:21 PM


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        March 1, 2016 3:24 PM


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          March 1, 2016 3:52 PM

          word. external videocards but I guess those will never really be a thing.

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            March 1, 2016 3:59 PM

            They're a thing this year with thunderbolt 3 over USB-C, but that doesn't mean they automatically work on mac.

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            March 1, 2016 5:45 PM

            Razor is selling laptops with these.

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              March 1, 2016 5:47 PM

              Razor, Asus, several different manufacturers.

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                March 1, 2016 5:49 PM

                I've only seen razor, but yeah, it's not unheard of.

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                  March 1, 2016 5:53 PM

                  Well, no, I mean this is a new thing, as of last CES. With thunderbolt 3 there's a standard way of doing it - no need for proprietary enclosures or connectors.

                  Intel wholly supports it for GPUs now, unlike the Thunderbolt 2 generation, and it's being done over the standard USB-C connector.

                  So this is Razor's version, but Asus, MSI, and others all showed off their own enclosures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQmJ92bSc2o

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        March 1, 2016 3:31 PM

        wtf is that? What is so wrong with a mac?

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          March 1, 2016 3:33 PM

          The GPUs are not the best.

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          March 1, 2016 3:34 PM

          he states in the video NONE of the GPUs are close to meeting their spec.

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            March 1, 2016 3:38 PM

            Sorry, I commented before I watched the video.. Ok, I agree with his statement. I built a hackintosh and was super impressed with 3D performance with OSX. But the stuff they ship with their desktops/laptops certainly is not as powerful as mid-level PCs you can buy/build.

            I just felt my desire to defend Unix rising, my apologies.

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          March 1, 2016 3:42 PM

          A better statement would probably be "If they ever release a good gaming computer"

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            March 1, 2016 3:48 PM


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              March 2, 2016 3:51 AM

              opencl doesn't work very well on mac either :(

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                May 4, 2016 2:13 PM

                Open CL is going to die if they dont embrace high performance computing at the level that nvidia has with CUDA. Sure opencl is OPEN, I get that. But I work/design HPC solutions for banks/oil & gas/colleges and the ATI openCL is an order of magnitude harder to work with the API is inferior, and the app vendors are not embracing it. AMD/ATI is just not willing to spend money on this from the weaker foothold on HPC things.

                It's sad really because there is money on the table for them, they only need to rise to the occasion..

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          March 2, 2016 3:38 AM

          Gpu power of nintendo ds lite and starting to reduce all ports to a single one per pc (thats where its going). Not to mention gluing and soldering everything so they can fuck you over with ridiculous prices for anything reasonable in terms of ram/ssd. For a while you either couldn’t use generic ssd's to upgrade or trim was broken (trimenablers worked for a while but they broke that too, it seems like it works again)

          vr needs a lot of ports and gpu power (games will probably require some ram and hd space as well).

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        March 1, 2016 3:34 PM

        Oh dear.

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        March 1, 2016 3:40 PM


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        March 1, 2016 3:42 PM


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          March 1, 2016 3:47 PM

          They should :(

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            March 1, 2016 3:56 PM

            Can't have a GPU eating up ~25% of the hardware budget of their various price tiers.

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            March 1, 2016 6:47 PM

            Their focus is on smaller and smaller enclosures. Better integrated from Intel graphics (or themselves if they ditch Intel) are their future.

            That teeny tiny logic board in the new Macbook will become that for the Macbook Pro once they can do it without compromising that level of performance.

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        March 1, 2016 3:43 PM

        So as soon as they release a new Mac Pro? How much you want to bet they still won't.

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          March 1, 2016 6:38 PM

          considering that means there'll still be basically no OSX users who could buy it? Yeah I'll bet they still won't.

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      March 1, 2016 3:21 PM

      He seems like a prickly guy, but also he's smart and knows what he's talking about. What is the launch lineup for the OR btw?

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        March 1, 2016 3:35 PM

        According to Wikipedia, these are full-version games coming out in Q1/Q2 with Rift Support

        Stationary Gameplay: 1st Person

        Classroom Aquatic
        I Expect You To DieM
        Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
        VR Sports ChallengeST
        Damaged Core
        Stationary Gameplay: 3rd Person / RTS
        Airmech VR
        Defense Grid 2
        Gang Beasts VR
        Nighttime Terror

        Cockpit Gameplay

        Assetto CorsaSW
        American Truck SimulatorSW
        Apollo 11E
        Bebylon Battle Royale
        Darkfield VR
        Digital Combat Simulator (DCS)FS
        Dirt RallySW
        Elite DangerousFS
        Enemy Starfighter
        Euro Truck Simulator 2SW
        EVE: Valkyrie
        Flight Simulator XFS (with FlyInside)
        Flying Aces VR
        Live for SpeedSW
        Lunar Flight
        Project CARSSW
        Sublevel Zero
        Time Machine VR
        Vox Machinae
        VR Karts
        War Thunder

        Artificial Locomotion: 1st Person

        Minecraft (C++ Edition)
        Ocean RiftE
        PULSAR: Lost Colony
        The Assembly
        The ClimbST
        The Hum: Abductions
        The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
        World War Toons

        Artificial Locomotion: 3rd Person

        Edge of Nowhere
        Lucky's Tale
        Current Total: 56

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          March 1, 2016 4:41 PM

          That's not exactly great. The motion controllers make a huge difference

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        March 1, 2016 3:40 PM

        They have an event in two weeks to announce official launch lineup I believe.

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        March 1, 2016 4:31 PM

        a) he's regretted his words before
        b) I bet he's guarded now because I imagine some interviewers are probably baiting for an out of context quote to get their site hits up

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          March 1, 2016 4:33 PM

          and he knows VR fans are HUNGRY for any possible news and will try and read into any offhand comment as being a new direction.

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          March 2, 2016 2:17 AM

          He seemed sort of hostile in the video. Maybe defensive is a better descriptor. Is he always like that?

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            March 2, 2016 3:03 AM

            Not at all, in the past he's been amazingly excitable and open, more recently he's been burned for that approach and I think he's now learning to hold back a little.

            I honestly don't think he gets enough credit for what he's achieved in the last few years. He's spear headed the launch of the next wave of computing, and brought something to realisation that almost everyone else had ignored or forgotten about. I think it's understandable if he's a little defensive now when he gets attacked mercilessly for small missteps.

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            March 2, 2016 5:16 AM

            Its probably a slightly stressful period right now, haha

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      March 2, 2016 2:59 AM

      Palmer is an out-spoken guy, much more than the usual CEOs. I love him for it, his share holders might not.

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        March 2, 2016 3:04 AM

        Yep, just as I said above, it's amazing he doesn't get more credit for spearheading the VR movement, people seem to forget this space basically didn't exist until his kickstarter.

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        March 2, 2016 3:35 AM

        Brendan Iribe is CEO of Oculus.

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          March 2, 2016 6:26 AM

          Yeah sorry, Palmer just speaks very openly for someone so high in the hierarchy

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      March 2, 2016 5:46 AM

      Fantastic interview. I would have loved a follow up question to his final answer regarding fence sitters needing to try the Rift to really get it. And this has been bugging me for a while..where?

      I mean I would LOVE to try the Rift but you can't simply walk into somewhere and demo it. They don't have units on retail floors, etc? Outside of buying a dev kit model or being lucky enough to have a friend with a model and beefy PC how does anyone pull this off?

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