Best Buy is closing 200 Oculus VR demo stations, reportedly due to lack of interest

Jos

TS Evangelist

Virtual reality is difficult to describe with marketing alone, it needs to be experienced. Last year Facebook took an important step towards reaching the masses with the announcement that Oculus Rift headsets will be available in 48 Best Buy stores around the country. Unfortunately, however, interest from the public has been underwhelming and now Facebook is shutting down nearly half of its VR pop-up stores.

Pop-up workers speaking to Business Insider say some of these VR kiosks would "go days without giving a single demonstration" and that at some stores Rift sales amounted to "a few headsets per week during the holiday season.” Naturally, foot traffic at stores has dropped since the shopping season ended.

While the immediate takeaway is that there’s a lack of interest from the public, other sources put the blame on software bugs and Best Buy not pushing people hard enough to try the headset.

Oculus claims the closures respond to seasonal changes. "We're making some seasonal changes and prioritizing demos at hundreds of Best Buy locations in larger markets," Oculus spokeswoman Andrea Schubert said. In total they are shutting down 200 of their 500 Oculus VR pop-up stores.

Clearly virtual reality still has a long way to go before reaching mainstream audiences, specially in terms of content and lowering the cost of entry. The closures could spell trouble for the technology if it is indeed getting the cold shoulder from customers — then again, Facebook could have gone overboard with 500 pop up stores. Besides Best Buy, demos are also available at several other stores stateside and overseas including b8ta, Currys, FNAC, GAME, John Lewis, Media Market, Microsoft Stores, and more.

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BSim500

TS Evangelist
It's been kinda obvious all along how little is mainstream consumer "demand" (once the initial rush of enthusiast back-orders were cleared) vs how much is manufactured hype even more out of proportion to observable sales than 3D-TV's. Is VR going to die? No. Will it be the next big consumer craze like the Wii a few years back? Also no.
 
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Brock Kane

There were 4 comments here before me on this subject. 3 of them obviously have not experienced VR.

Try before you judge fella's. I have the Oculus Rift and it's quite amazing. Don't take my word for it, try it!
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
I still see a lot of future in it for more practical training such as surgery, flight, complex assembly, etc. But from what I've seen of games, it isn't so much of a disappointment, but it can really play hell with your sense of balance and actually makes some of the games simply unplayable. Perhaps I'm stuck with the simple 2D approach or maybe we simply need to see more games that are specifically developed for this platform.
 
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ikesmasher

TS Evangelist
I actively looked for one in the 5-6 best buys ive been in since they started this and was never able to find a single one. If youre not gonna roll it out to at least MOST of your stores its not gonna be indicitive of consumer interest.
 

Bruce V Wayne

TS Booster
The demo stations are not easily accessible. In a Best Buy store there is also the Samsung VR product. From what I have seen there are always people demoing that product a lot more than the Oculus, because it's so easily to do.
 

mbrowne5061

TS Evangelist
I suspect part of the problem is that Facebook locks down the Oculus - at least more than HTC does with the Vive. Anyone who has built or bought a machine capable of running a Vive or Oculus knows this. This get compounded by putting it in Best Buy in the first place, people shopping there aren't shopping for super-high-end computer peripherals. It would have been wiser to put the displays in a Fry's or Microcenter, where they would actually reach an audience that might impulse buy one.
 

EndlessWaves

TS Booster
There were 4 comments here before me on this subject. 3 of them obviously have not experienced VR.

Try before you judge fella's. I have the Oculus Rift and it's quite amazing. Don't take my word for it, try it!
So is skydiving. That doesn't mean most people who find it so want to do it on a regular basis.

Amazing isn't enough, a technology needs to be of benefit on a regular basis to succeed. VR is being treated as the latest next big thing which seems like the wrong way to go about it, they should be emphasizing how it improves everyday usage.
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

TS Evangelist
There were 4 comments here before me on this subject. 3 of them obviously have not experienced VR.

Try before you judge fella's. I have the Oculus Rift and it's quite amazing. Don't take my word for it, try it!
I have and it makes me nauseas.I don't suffer from motion sickness so I'll pass on this fad... or at least wait a few more years until it really improves, if it won't go away.
 

IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
I did these demos a couple of times... and while I like the VR experience, and it is heading in the right direction, it just isn't ready for prime time I thought. Display resolution was too low and the FOV wasn't wide enough. On top of that it is quite expensive. I realize you have to make some money back from R&D but it just isn't worth the price in its current state. Now with 4K equivalent display resolution and at least another 30 degrees or so in FOV I'll gladly pay $600 for the headset.

So I knew the demos would come to an end at some point, it just costs them too much money to do it... and all the interest that was there has passed. Time to re-group and improve the product.
 
Oculus and Vive both avoid porn but it is the deal breaker. The platform that gets more/better/cheaper porn will win this battle. Shame americans are so two faced, they use most porn in world but when private parts are shown anywhere it's banned outright from media and is viewed as sinful and wrong, even when there's nothing sexual about showing body parts. And as both companies are american we have to wait for samsung or sony to make the first step, and that could take a while. I know you can get unofficial porn on all platforms but that doesn't sell to masses.