VR is changing the way we play videogames. It’s a cliché but strapping that headset over your eyes really does put you into the virtual space to live out your nerdiest fantasies. Ready Player One here we come. But with so many options out there, from cardboard to PC-eating headsets, where do you start? And where is the best place to get on to this expensive, but exciting band wagon? Well, to help with all that over the next few months I’ll be looking at the most prevalent VR headsets (PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive) and which retailers are giving gamers the best deals to help make the future of gaming a reality today. [Full disclosure, I work at CEX]
So without further ado, let’s look at the best way to buy the one that started it all: The Oculus Rift.
One of the biggest reasons we are seeing a virtual revolution in gaming today is, in big part, due to the Oculus Rift and its creator Palmer Luckey. 18 years old at the time, in 2011 Luckey created the first prototype for the head-mounted device. Since then, the Rift has seen many iterations. First as a development kit in 2012 thanks to a hugely successful Kickstarter that got the cutting edge tech into the hands of game developers. Then in 2016 a consumer version was released so us hungry gamers could finally get our hands on the perception altering experience. While VR hasn’t taken the mainstream by storm (yet) the future of us all walking around with screens taped to our heads is so appealing that the Oculus was acquired by mega-company Facebook in 2014.
On the market right now is the main consumer model of the Rift that comes with the headset, the sensors required to track your head’s movement, and the alien looking Touch controllers specifically made for Oculus. The Touch controllers are motion sensing hand grips, one for your left hand and one for your right, with buttons and analog sticks that let you control what is happening in the virtual space. There is also the GO model: a simpler version that doesn’t require you to have a beast of a PC to deliver games to your headset. A cheaper alternative that comes with a controller (not the Touch) and is ideal for use (you guessed it) on the GO.
While the barrier to entry is a lot higher than the one seen for, say, a PSVR - as instead of simply buying a PS4 with the Rift you need a PC powerful enough to give you the true virtual experience which can get quite pricey – the device has still seen a lot of support from game developers. At release, the Oculus already had AAA support with the likes of Insomniac Games putting forward titles like Edge of Nowhere. And through its life span giants like Minecraft have joined the revolution adding VR compatibility. Additionally, originals like Lone Echo are also still being released. Outside of gaming the device can be used to watch your favourite Netflix shows on a virtual cinema screen, or even join a chatroom with your friends and experience the shocking twists together like you were in the same room. With the in-development Oculus Quest promising quality VR wherever, whenever, without having to lug around a PC, the future looks bright for the Oculus. But what if you can’t wait for the Quest and want to buy one now? Well, the information below should have you covered.
CEX is a second hand shop that sells everything from cameras to consoles and games to DVDs. While the unit you will be buying from them has been used before, every piece of tech that goes through those doors is tested before sale and comes with a two year warranty. The two year warranty doesn’t cover accidental damage (if you drop the headset), water damage (if you drop the headset in your full bath), and tampering (if after dropping your headset in your full bath you open it up yourself to try and dry out the still sparking parts). What it does cover is if anything in the system becomes faulty and is not your fault. If this happens, you will be able to bring your headset back to any CEX and either get it fixed or replaced. Hardware from CEX comes in three categories depending on their quality: A is a mint condition unit that comes with the box, B may have a couple of scratches on the unit and does not come with the box, and C will have quite a lot of physical scratches. These ratings do not grade how the actual systems work and only help give you an idea of their physical appearance.
- Oculus Rift CV1 Touch Bundle (2x Touch Controllers & 2x Sensors)
A = £320, B = £300, C = £280
- Oculus GO 32GB (With Controller and Micro USB)
A = £150, B = £135, C = £125
- Oculus GO 64GB (With Controller and Micro USB)
A = £180, B = £160, C = £140
- Oculus Touch Controller
A = £45, B = £30, C = £25
- Oculus Sensor
A = £75, B = £68, C = Currently Not Being Sold
GAME is a retail chain that’s primary focus is on, yep, games. They sell hardware and software alike and are the biggest UK high street name for this industry. GAME’s warranty policy allows you to return an item if unwanted within 30 days and on top of that you are covered for 12 months if there is a fault with the system. On their website, a fault is labelled as a “manufacturer fault” and so follows the same guidelines as the warranty offered at CEX. If a fault is found after the first 30 days, you cannot gain a refund, but can still get your unit replaced or repaired.
- Oculus Rift & Touch Bundle = Currently Not Being Sold
- Oculus GO 32GB (With Controller and Micro USB) = £199
- Oculus GO 64GB (With Controller and Micro USB) = £249
- Oculus Touch Controller = £99
- Oculus Sensor = Currently Not Being Sold
eBay is the online marketplace that popularised the method of sitting on your sofa and waiting for your product to come to you. It is also the service that allowed you to sell your unwanted Christmas socks from the comfort of your own home too. Because there are so many listings on the website from a plethora of sources, here I am going to detail an average price for a ‘New’ and ‘Used’ condition unit and detail what comes with each one and then the price for any extras you may need to purchase. eBay’s warranty system is a bit looser than the two shops listed above, but on average if you have a problem with what you have bought you are able to send it back to the seller and get a full refund. If you have any problems with getting said refund, the eBay team is a helpful bunch and personally have stepped in to help me get my money back with speed and great customer service. However, depending on the seller you may have to fork out for the postage back to them (which could be a deep pain to your wallet for a VR sized box to travel across the country or world).
- Oculus Rift & Touch Bundle = £349 + Free Shipping
- Oculus GO 32GB (With Controller and Micro USB) = £199 + Free Shipping
- Oculus GO 64GB (With Controller and Micro USB) = £249 + Free Shipping
- Oculus Touch Controllers & Sensor = £129.99 + Free Shipping
- Oculus Rift & Touch Bundle = £300 + Free Shipping
- Oculus GO 32GB (With Controller and Micro USB) = £149.99 + Free Shipping
- Oculus GO 64GB (With Controller and Micro USB) = £189.99 + Free Shipping
- Oculus Touch Controllers & Sensor = £149.99 + Free Shipping
The website that took what eBay had done and improved on the process, Amazon made the act of stationary buying/selling even smoother and simpler. Like eBay, there are a whole host of sellers, so I will be listing the varying conditions and what comes with each product as I did for eBay’s showing. However, with Amazon there are more businesses that use the service, with even PlayStation itself selling directly through the site, so in Amazon’s New category you will be seeing a much more professional product. Warranty also works in a similar way to eBay with each seller giving varying versions. With official businesses selling through Amazon you will most likely get a manufacturer’s warranty; where if anything goes wrong you can send the unit back for repairs. Otherwise you will also be allowed to send the unit back and get a refund if unwanted within a described time period, and if there are any issues there is also an Amazon team ready to step in and get you your desired refund.
- Oculus Rift & Touch Bundle = £669.99 + Free Shipping
- Oculus GO 32GB (With Controller and Micro USB) = £199 + Free Shipping
- Oculus GO 64GB (With Controller and Micro USB) = £223 + £17.75
- Oculus Touch Controllers =£99 + Free Shipping
- Sensor = £57.31 + £10.65
- Oculus Rift & Touch Bundle = £422.92 + Free Shipping
- Oculus GO 32GB (With Controller and Micro USB) = £149 + £2.03
- Oculus GO 64GB (With Controller and Micro USB) = £214.79 + Free Shipping
- Oculus Touch Controllers =£81.01 + Free Shipping
- Sensor = £58 + Free Shipping
The newest of the online markets to emerge, Facebook's online shop allows its users to sell their items to anyone else on Facebook. A much more personal service than eBay or Amazon with every seller being your average Joe and all the items available are used, or at least owned, by the seller. Unlike other online marketplaces, the seller can choose how they are paid, whether that be with money or a swapping of goods. Returns on products are up to the seller, so be careful when purchasing, and if you need any more information on a product you can direct message the seller to gain all your answers.
- Oculus Rift Bundle CV1 = £270
- Oculus GO 32GB (With Controller and Micro USB) = £160
- Oculus GO 64GB (With Controller and Micro USB) = £150
And with that the second path to virtual reality has been revealed. Come back next month for a breakdown of the final VR system helping us gamers tread new ground. That’s right, Google Cardboard. Not really, it’ll be the HTC Vive.