As the virtual reality gaming revolution takes charge, one of the leading factors has been VR demo stations. These demo stations in games and technology retailers allow gamers to test out the technology and experience VR gaming for themselves. After all, VR headsets like the Oculus Rift come at a high price point, and gamers will want to be absolutely sure that buying a headset is worth it before they drop a whole load of cash on one.
That’s why it’s so significant that it has now been revealed that hundreds of Oculus Rift demo stations are set to shut down. Business Insider has obtained an internal memo sent by retailer Best Buy that reveals that 200 of its Oculus Rift demo stations (out of 500) are set to be shut down due to “store performance.”
Employees called “Oculus Ambassadors,the amount of” told the publication that during the holiday shopping system, their stores were only selling a few Oculus Rift systems a week and that aftea number ofpeople visiting the demo stations “drastically” declined. One employee even said that days could pass where not a single person had requested an Oculus Rift demo.
Although an Oculus spokesperson says that the shuttering of demo stations is just due to “seasonal changes” and the company will continue to “find opportunities to do regular events and pop ups in retail locations and local communities throughout the year” some have said that this is a sign of real concern. While it’s unclear exactly how many of the headsets have been sold so far, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that Oculus Rift must sell 50-100 million units over several years, but with a lack of interest from the public, it seems unlikely it will ever reach that figure.
If sales of the headset really are struggling, then this is just the latest headache for the company. Recently, Oculus was forced to pay ZeniMax $6 billion following a lawsuit and there’s also the suggestion that the company may block sales of the headset.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though, as the company may be able to get itself – and sales of its headset – back on track. A cheaper Oculus Rift could be on the way, which could encourage cash-strapped gamers, while the Rift’s Xbox One support could influence some console gamers and get them to focus in a previously PC-focused piece of hardware.
Oculus Rift is available now.