You’ve probably been hearing a lot about virtual reality in the last few weeks.
That’s because Facebook finally launched its Oculus Rift headset and HTC/Valve are on the precipice of launching their Vive VR system.
At $600 for the Oculus Rift, $800 for the HTC Vive, and years of hype behind both promising the “next computing platform,” expectations are ridiculously high.
In the case of the Rift, so many people were excited about plunking down cash on a pre-order that many folks won’t get their headsets until this summer.
But even people who acted quickly and locked in an earlier ship date — the headset started shipping on March 28 — are running into some delivery issues. So many delivery issues, in fact, that Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe took to Twitter to announce free shipping on the first set of Rifts that are shipping late.
First set of Rifts are going out slower than we orig estimated, so we’re giving free shipping for all pre-orders, including international.
— Brendan Iribe (@brendaniribe) April 2, 2016
HTC and Valve’s Vive headset is running into its own set of issues. Some customers are reporting that their pre-orders have been canceled — reportedly due to an error with the company handling order fulfillment, Digital River — causing them to spend hours on customer service sorting out the issue.
HTC issued a statement regarding the cancellations:
While fulfilling this week’s orders for HTC Vive, a limited number of individuals were affected by auto cancellations due to processing issues with financial institutions. We’re actively working to resolve this, and have already reinstated orders for some customers. We want to assure our customers that we’ll work with them to process their payment so they can receive their Vive when they were expecting it. If you pre-ordered a Vive, we encourage you to contact your financial institution to notify them of upcoming charges.
And that’s to say nothing of the dreaded “Oculus Face” effect. That’s the big red mark you get on your face after using an Oculus Rift for more than short bursts of gaming. Here’s a look at that, care of my muppet-esque visage:
It is, of course, very early days for both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. They both provide incredible experiences, unmatched elsewhere in modern technology. They also both face a mountain of scepticism and high barriers to entry from both the price and technical perspective — each headset requires an expensive, powerful computer to power it. Still, limping across the starting line isn’t a great look for either of these devices, to say nothing of VR as a burgeoning medium.