Facebook’s stated desire to bring immersive experiences to a mass audience has taken a significant step forward.
Oculus Go, the company’s first standalone VR headset, is now on sale to the general public in 23 countries, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg using his keynote at the F8 developer conference to confirm the hardware’s release. Initially announced at the Oculus Connect event in October of last year, the 32GB version of the headset will retail for $199—the 64GB model will be $249, or currency equivalent—with Zuckerberg noting onstage that Oculus Go will likely be the first virtual reality experience that people have.
“VR has the ability to let us see things from new angles, expand our horizons, and improve our understanding of the world around us,” Facebook said, in a press release. “From new social apps that let you attend live events from the best seat in the house to more intimate experiences that explore pressing social issues, Oculus Go will change the way you watch, play, and hang out with friends while offering you new perspectives.”
Immersive Experiences On A Large Scale
The device has been designed to be both comfortable and lightweight, with the headset boasting built-in spatial audio, a fast-switch LCD display and a fully optimized software stack that benefits from the embedded Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chip. Facebook is confident that the Oculus Go will also offer the best optics of any virtual reality system that it has built, citing its enhanced specs as the perfect platform for developers to build VR experiences that can connect people and broaden our perspectives of the world.
Oculus Go will launch with over 1,000 apps, games and experiences, Zuckerberg said, and will be the most affordable way to not only dive into virtual reality but also find new ways to connect with friends in VR itself. The platform will allow people to watch live events (sports, concerts and comedy) in Oculus Venues or hang out with friends in Oculus Rooms. As an added bonus, Oculus TV provides a 3D environment for people to enjoy their favorite TV shows and movies.
Streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu are included, as are a number of Gear VR titles that have been refreshed for the Oculus Go. As you would expect, games occupy a large proportion of the library, with 20 new titles alone launching on Oculus Go. Catan VR and Anshar Online—both of which immersed demoed at GDC 2018—are likely to be popular with VR gamers, although it appears that most of the initial games available will not be free-to-play.
An added caveat is that the initial run of Oculus Go is likely to sell out quickly.
Facebook has not indicated how many headsets have been manufactured or shipped, and the delighted cheers of the 5,000 developers at F8 after Zuckerberg said that attendees would get a free headset told its own story. For example, Amazon sold out of headsets just hours after posting availability around midnight on May 1, Digital Trends reported, although at the time of the writing it does appear that the item is back in stock at select online retailers and on the oculus.com website.