When Facebook (FB) purchased Oculus for $2 billion in 2014, plenty of investors were left scratching their heads. Two years later, some of those same investors might have the Oculus Rift, the company's first wide-market virtual reality (VR) offering, around their heads.
Facebook's stock fell to $60.38 from $64.89 the day the company purchased Oculus, before dropping as low as $56.75 as the market failed to see the viability of virtual reality.
Today, the Oculus Rift shipped to over 20 countries featuring a lineup of over 30 games and a growing catalog of video content that includes Vimeo and Twitch live streams.
The Rift is the first high-end VR system to make it to market, but the $599 headset will be seeing some competition soon.
HTC will be shipping the Vive next month, and Sony's (SNE) PlayStation VR is scheduled for release in the fall.
The market for virtual reality is expected to reach $30 billion worldwide by 2020. Meanwhile, augmented reality (AR) -- blending virtual reality with real-life images -- is forecast to be a $90 billion industry by the end of the decade, according to Digi-Capital. The industries are expected to see exponential growth over the next couple of years.
"We're going to focus on helping Oculus build out their product and develop partnerships to support more games. Oculus will continue operating independently within Facebook to achieve this," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the time.
The Oculus Rift's price point could be a major advantage over HTC's VR model. The Vive has a starting price of $799. But PlayStation VR undercuts both with its $399 starting price.
"I've said it before, if it's under $500, it's going to be a bargain, and it's going to probably take a ton of share," Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter told industry watcher GamingBolt before the price of the console was announced. "Because obviously, if you're one of the 35 million, now probably closer to 40 million, PS4 owners, you can buy a PSVR headset, and that will work out of the box."
The Oculus Rift comes with a headset, Oculus sensor and stand that tracks the position of the device on your head, a compact Oculus remote for menu navigation, and an Xbox One controller for playing games.
So far the device has received rave reviews from industry watchers like Gizmodo and Wired.
"This is an astonishingly well-made device. It delivers rock-solid, comfortable VR, and it does so easily. You'll be able to put this thing on anyone and show them the magic. You'll have friends coming over just to go through the Dreamdeck (seriously, you will)," wrote Wired contributor Peter Rubin. "But you'll have to make your peace with the idea that your $600 -- or realistically, $1,500 or more, if you need a PC to go with it -- is an investment."
Virtual reality is still in its neophyte stage, but the potential for this technology remains immense.