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article imageThe Oculus Rift is now open for pre-order, priced at $599

By James Walker     Jan 6, 2016 in Technology
Virtual reality headset creator Oculus has opened pre-orders on its much-anticipated Rift, pricing the device at $599. Shipments will include an Xbox One controller and a couple of free games.
Oculus announced the start of pre-orders in a blog post earlier this week but only started accepting names today. The company plans to start shipping in March but delivery estimates have already been pushed back months after that due to demand.
Inside the box, buyers will find the headset itself, with integrated mic and headphones, the Rift's sensor, an Xbox One controller and a copy of VR platformer game Lucky's Tale and space shooter EVE: Valkyrie.
Oculus is still developing its own spatial-sensing Touch controller for launch at some point in the middle of the year so until then players will have to make do with the included Xbox One controller, the result of a partnership between Oculus and Microsoft, when playing games.
The box contents of the first Oculus Rift consumer edition
The box contents of the first Oculus Rift consumer edition
Oculus
Oculus is also including a remote control with the headset designed to make it "simple and intuitive" to navigate the VR experience and find new content in the Oculus store. The remote can be used to control media like 360-degree videos and Oculus sees it as a way of introducing non-gamers to virtual reality.
The company expects to see "dozens" of triple-A gaming titles available on the end of Oculus Rift. Over 100 games have releases planned for this year, including a port of sandbox building game Minecraft. There will also be some titles developed exclusively for Oculus such as Harmonix's Rockband VR, Insomniac's Edge of Nowhere and Crytek's The Climb.
The people who contributed to Oculus' original funding campaign on Kickstarter and bought a developer's kit back in 2012 will receive the finished product for free. The original Rift project quickly became one of the most successful crowd-funding campaigns in history, leading to the company's later acquisition by Facebook for around $2 billion.
The Oculus Rift is currently aimed towards gamers and entertainment experiences as the emerging technology of virtual reality is yet to find much practical use elsewhere. The headset requires a powerful computer to power it though with minimum specifications mandating an Intel Core i5 Haswell-series processor or greater, at least 8GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 graphics card.
Oculus has previously said that the Rift headset and a PC capable of running games for it should set you back around $1,500 as a minimum. Not everyone will be able to afford VR gaming yet but the hardware requirements are likely to be lowered over time as the software is optimised.
Oculus is now selling Rift headsets bundled with a powerful computer from $1,499. It has also created a downloadable compatibility checker for existing machines so gamers in doubt can establish if their computer is already suitable or requires some upgrading before starting off with virtual reality.
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