The highly-anticipated virtual reality headset Oculus Rift is finally going to be available for purchase early next year. But there’s a problem: If you own a Mac or Linux system, or a basic PC, you’re out of luck. At least for now.
Facebook-owned Oculus VR on Friday released the technical requirements for running the Oculus Rift — it will require a PC with a powerful graphics card. But it won’t work on any Apple or Linux computers. And the system specifications are far above the levels of any basic PC.
“Our development for OS X and Linux has been paused in order to focus on delivering a high quality consumer-level VR experience at launch across hardware, software, and content on Windows,” Oculus’ chief architect Atman Binstock wrote in a blog post. “We want to get back to development for OS X and Linux but we don’t have a timeline.”
We always knew the first-generation Oculus Rift would require a computer to work, but it’s disappointing that it won’t work across all platforms just yet. And furthermore, you’ll have to own an at least $US1000 PC with a beefy graphics card if you want a quality experience.
The Oculus Rift was responsible for re-sparking interest in virtual reality back in 2012, when gaming enthusiast Palmer Luckey promised a better virtual reality experience that was also accessible and affordable for most people.
Luckey’s original Kickstarter campaign surpassed its goal in less than 24 hours on its way to raising over $US2.4 million. It was endorsed by countless gaming executives, including Valve CEO Gabe Newell and “Doom” creator John Carmack. It became an even bigger deal when Facebook saw its potential and acquired the company for $US2 billion in March 2014.
Over that time, Oculus built three official development kits for the Rift headset, but everyone wanted to know when they could expect the first consumer version to ship. The company finally answered that question earlier this month, promising the first units of the Oculus Rift would ship early next year.
Unfortunately, just because it’s officially called the “consumer version” doesn’t mean the first-generation Rift is for “all consumers.” Due to these technical requirements and restrictions, it sounds like the Oculus Rift will only appeal to hardcore gamers at this point, who already own a gaming rig that can handle the computational load.
Personally, I was looking forward to buying the first-generation Oculus Rift, but I probably won’t at this point. I’m a big gaming enthusiast but only a casual gamer — I don’t have a crazy setup like a massive computer tower with three monitors, I just have a MacBook Pro. I would need to buy a completely separate PC just to play around with the Rift.
Here’s what they say you’ll need to acrually use this thing:
- NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
- Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
- 8GB+ RAM
- Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
- 2x USB 3.0 ports
- Windows 7 SP1 or newer
That is not going to come anywhere near approaching the average user’s home computer system. And as a result, is going to leave a lot of people who want to experience virtual reality out of the loop.
Of course, this is not what Oculus wants, either. Most virtual reality companies say their goal is to get their VR products untethered from computers to simply become plug-and-play experiences like many living room game consoles. But that future isn’t quite here yet, and unfortunately, that means many people — non-gamers and casual gamers included — will be missing out on the first wave of virtual reality.