The first consumer-ready Oculus Rift headsets are due to launch in summer 2015, it has been rumoured - but as a limited production run of beta hardware.
Oculus VR, the company behind the Oculus Rift head-mounted virtual reality display, funded the production of its first developer prototype hardware via a combination of traditional venture capital and Kickstarter. Its popularity was high enough, despite the hardware's low resolution and lack of ready-to-use software, that it was able to raise additional funds, build a higher-resolution version dubbed the Developer Kit 2 (DK2), and attract the attention of social networking giant Facebook, which put its hand in its pocket and acquired the company outright.
With Facebook's cash behind it, Oculus VR's work continues apace. The company has begun sending out the Developer Kit 2 hardware, but remains silent on when a consumer-ready version will appear. Currently, those buying Oculus Rift hardware are required to be at least reasonably technically-minded: very little software works with the headset out-of-the-box, and a fair amount of tweaking and tinkering is required. Oculus VR maintains that this is to be expected, and warns all buyers that they're purchasing a kit aimed at software developers looking to integrate virtual reality into their products and not an accessory suited to the average gamer.
The latter is the final goal, of course, and anonymous sources speaking to specialist site VR Focus
have done what Oculus VR has so far refused to do: offer a launch date for the consumer-ready Oculus Rift kit. This, the sources have claimed, will appear some time around April 2015, but as a 'very limited
' beta run similar in scope to Google's original Project Glass Explorer Edition roll-out. Unlike the developer kit, the consumer version is expected to ship with software that will allow it to be used on the majority of PC hardware immediately and without any awkward fiddling - although proper support will still be up to each game developer individually to add.
Oculus VR has not commented on the sources' claims.