Oculus Rift begins shipping to customers, bringing VR to the masses

A virtual reality launch years in the making, with plenty of anticipation. But how long will it take to be a hit?

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Josh Miller/CNET

The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is beginning to ship to customers, CEO Brendan Iribe tweeted earlier this week, saying deliveries should begin arriving on customers doorsteps on Monday, March 28.

The headset shipping is years in the making, beginning with a Kickstarter campaign in 2012. Oculus was snatched up by Facebook and is now bringing virtual reality to the masses.

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Over the weekend, Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey delivered an Oculus Rift to the first person to pre-order the device, Ross Martin. Luckey traveled to Alaska to make the delivery.

The first round of pre-orders in February included "Oculus Ready" PC bundles from Dell, Asus, and Alienware, starting at $1500. If you weren't able to get in on the first round, Oculus says you'll have to wait until July to order the headset.

Even with the anticipation, RW Baird analyst Colin Sebastian (via VentureBeat) believes it will take time for Oculus sales to pick up.

"We share some of the optimism for the industry as one of the few growing sectors of media and entertainment," he wrote in a note to investors. "However, our near-term expectations for VR are more constrained. We expect Oculus to sell 500,000 to 1 million units this year. That's versus consensus expectations of 1 to 2 million."

Oculus VR is beating competitor HTC to the market. The HTC Vive, which opened pre-orders in February, ships in April. It requires a high-end PC like the Oculus VR.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, sees virtual reality as the next big thing -- of course, why they bought Oculus.

"VR is the next platform, where anyone can experience and share anything they want. VR is going to be the most social platform," Zuckerberg said at Mobile World Congress in February.

Facebook has created a social VR team and is led by two executives from the video games industry, Daniel James and Mike Booth, who both have backgrounds in creating 3D multiplayer experiences, according to the Financial Times.

Zuckerberg also announced that more than 200 games and apps are now available for the platform in the Oculus store, and users have already watched more than a million hours of video in Samsung's Gear VR. Furthermore, users have uploaded 20,000 videos in the 360-degree format to Facebook, after it added the feature in 2015.