Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo….Oculus? It’s no surprise that Oculus VR has just announced they’ll be bringing the Oculus Rift to E3, as they’ve had a presence at many, many gaming events to date, and E3 will be a can’t-miss for them.
But now, the situation is different. The Oculus Rift is no longer just a tech demo that a journalist has tried and said was cool. They are honing in on an actual consumer release. Their target price is around $300 supposedly, though eventually, they’d love to get that down to free.
While I’m skeptical of anything that claims it’s going to “disrupt” the industry (the now-dead Ouya, Steam Machines, etc), the Oculus has always had a better chance than most to actually deliver on that consistently hyperbolic promise. Add into that the idea that Sony may end up debuting their own VR system ahead of or during E3, and the Rift is something the big three is going to have to take seriously, as is Virtual Reality in general.
But the Oculus has a bit of a promotion problem when it comes to E3. Though the lucky attendees there will be able to try the headset for themselves, the millions watching coverage of the event at home will not. There isn’t really the possibility of a big keynote like the kind we see from Sony and Microsoft (and used to see from Nintendo, until last year).
While Sony and Microsoft can amaze with their array or gorgeous upcoming games from beloved franchises for the PS4 and the Xbox One, that’s not the Oculus’s strong suit. Their games are either brand new experiments in VR, or adaptations of existing games. Their strength isn’t in photorealistic visuals, but in the actual experience itself. And that’s not something than can really be effectively translated via a keynote.
That said, I’ve seen many a YouTube video of the Oculus Rift that has gotten me excited about the concept, even when I hadn’t experienced the unit for myself. I think industry fans are looking forward to the release of ” home VR,” though I do have to wonder if we’re too deep inside our own little gaming bubble. The Oculus is going to have to craft a campaign that expands outside the niche who reads gaming sites or forums religiously.
The Oculus is the ultimate try before you buy product. If they can devote resources into simply getting the device out there for a series of “ campaign stops” leading up to, or even after, a consumer release, it’s going to be an effective way to get people to purchase the product. More so than TV commercials, to be sure. They’ve already done this to some extent, but increased efforts would go a long way to ensuring they’re a major force in the industry. The best part is, they can get one person to try the system, and if all goes well, that person will tell everyone they know just how cool the product is. It’s a marketer’s dream, in that sense.
The Oculus likely won’t steal the show from Microsoft or Sony, as there’s no point in them having the same level of grand keynote full of explosive pre-rendered gaming footage and such, but they could win the event all the same if they play their cards right with a blockbuster price announcement. release date and games catalog. Let’s hope they can be as “disruptive’ as everyone thinks.