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.