Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headsets Now Shipping

The company's CEO even hand-delivered the first Rift VR to a buyer in Alaska as part of a launch promotion, according to reports.  

Oculus Rift VR, VR, virtual reality, VR headsets, Samsung Gear VR, shipping

The first $599 Oculus Rift VR virtual reality headsets began shipping to buyers on March 28 as the company began filling Kickstarter orders for the company's latest flagship VR devices. The headsets are being shipped to buyers in some 20 countries and regions around the world, according to a March 28 post on The Oculus Blog.

"Kickstarter units will start arriving today, and the first preordered Rifts will start shipping mid-week and arrive soon after," the company announced. "We're working as fast as we can to get Rifts to customers who preordered. If you preordered, you'll get an email when your order is being prepped (1-3 weeks prior to shipping) and then another one when your payment method has been charged and your Rift is on its way."

Rift buyers who didn't participate in the company's Kickstarter campaign last year or preorder their devices through the preorder process that began in January can now order them through Oculus.com, but the site is listing expected shipping dates in July. Buyers can also buy their Rift VR viewer in a bundle with an Oculus-Ready PC through Amazon, BestBuy and the Microsoft Store.

Earlier in March, Oculus also announced that some 30 new VR gaming titles will be available to play on the new devices as the first Rift VR headsets begin shipping. The 30 titles that are available starting March 28 will be joined by more than 100 additional titles through the end of 2016, according to an earlier eWEEK story.

The first 30 game titles include Adr1ft, Adventure Time, AirMech: Command, Albino Lullaby, Audio Arena, Project CARS, Chronos, Darknet, Dead Secret, Defense Grid 2, Dreadhalls, Elite Dangerous, Esper 2, EVE Valkyrie Founder's Pack, Fly to KUMA and EVE Gunjack.

Also slated for release are Herobound SC, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, Lucky's Tale, Omega Agent, Radial G, Rooms, Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe VR, Smashing the Battle, Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Vektron Revenge, VR Tennis Online, Pinball FX2 VR, BlazeRush and Windlands. Prices of the games range from $9.99 to $59.99.

Just in time for the first shipments, the company also announced changes to its Oculus Home app, which was launched last fall along with the $100 Samsung Gear VR headset. The Samsung Gear VR is a consumer product that is built on Oculus technology. The Gear VR works in conjunction with a Samsung smartphone.

Additional video content is also ready for users as of today. "Oculus Video for Rift launches today with thousands of Facebook 360 videos and the best of Vimeo and Twitch livestreams," the post states. "We'll be adding feature-length movies, new partners, and lots more content to Oculus Video soon."

Users will also be able to peruse the Oculus 360 Photos feature, where they will be able to explore more than 200,000 destinations through their headsets, including beaches in the tropics, a mountaintop in the Alps and many other scenes across the world and the universe, according to the post.

To launch the first Rift VR delivery, Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus, actually hand-delivered the first device to a buyer in Alaska two days before the official shipping date, according to a March 26 story by Polygon. The buyer, Ross Martin, got a personal visit from Luckey after the company's public relations team organized and confirmed the delivery with him ahead of time, the story reported.

Oculus has been active lately in marketing its VR headsets in a variety of ways. In February, the company announced that its Rift virtual-reality headsets are being bundled with specially built PCs from several manufacturers to give VR fans the right gear to get started in the world of virtual reality.

The bundles, which will include an Oculus-ready PC and a Rift VR headset, are built around special PCs to be produced by Asus, Alienware and Dell. The PC and Rift bundles are available for preorder from Best Buy, Amazon and the Microsoft Store starting at $1,499. Each bundle includes an Oculus-certified PC and a Rift and its accessories, including a sensor, a remote, an Xbox One controller, and the EVE: Valkyrie Founder's Pack and Lucky's Tale games. The bundles are expected to ship in limited quantities to select countries and regions from retail partners starting in April, according to Oculus.

The Rift is equipped with dual active-matrix organic LED (AMOLED) displays that are designed to provide users with incredible visual clarity as they explore virtual worlds with the device. The Rift also uses an infrared LED constellation tracking system that provides precise, low-latency 360-degree orientation and position tracking for users for accurate and fluid control and operation when playing games and simulations.

Facebook acquired Oculus for $1.9 billion in March 2014 to expand its social media footprint in a new direction.