Oculus announced a program today that should allow more potential VR customers to get some hands-on time with the company's Rift headset. Starting May 7, some Best Buy stores will have the Oculus Rift in stock, both for purchase and as a demo.
Oculus says the demo will be available at 48 Best Buy locations to begin with. It'll include time in the Oculus Dreamdeck, The Climb, and Farland VR demos. That road show should be a great opportunity for those of us who haven’t had a VR experience to get our feet wet without a huge delay—or a huge investment. Given the hype-heavy past of VR and the difference in experience that it offers versus traditional PC gaming, it's probably important that Oculus gets as many people behind the virtual wheel as it can. Many skeptics may only re-evaluate their skepticism when they have the opportunity to try the system out for themselves.
Still, it's a bit odd to see Oculus offering retail units before fulfilling all of the preorders for the Rift. Some people who preordered the headset are sure to be miffed that someone could go into one of these Best Buy locations and end up with a Rift before preorders are completed. The company tries to temper this frustration by allowing people who pre-ordered the device to purchase a retail unit, cancel their preorder, and retain their preorder benefits. Oculus says only an "extremely limited" number of Rifts will be available through stores while preorders get caught up, so it's not as if the headset is moving to general availability while pre-order customers are left waiting.
The Rift will also be available through the Microsoft and Amazon online storefronts starting May 6, also in extremely limited quantities. Customers can map locations that offer the demo, and even schedule a demo in advance through a site provided by Oculus.