It’s happening: Facebook-owned Oculus announced on Tuesday that its long-in-development virtual reality headset, the Rift, will be ready for our sweaty faces in the first quarter of 2016. Pre-orders will open later this year, and that’s just enough time for me to go OH CRAP I NEED A BETTER COMPUTER SITUATION FOR THIS MAGIC VR HEADSET.

rift1The company made the announcement on its blog, though not too many more details came through other than that. Oculus did say that this long-awaited consumer grade version of the Rift is better than the Crescent Bay prototype, also known as Dev Kit 2. And, for the record, Dev Kit 2 kinda blew a lot of people away, so if this is better, sign me up:

“The Oculus Rift builds on the presence, immersion, and comfort of the Crescent Bay prototype with an improved tracking system that supports both seated and standing experiences, as well as a highly refined industrial design, and updated ergonomics for a more natural fit.”

We don’t know much about launch software—though Steam has a healthy collection of games that are already compatible with the first and second dev kits that have been around for the last few years. Rest assured, there will be scads of popular games ready to go when the Rift finally comes to market.

HTC-viveIt’ll be interesting to see what happens when the competition comes around as well, though. For instance, Valve—the company behind Steam—has its own VR headset in the works in collaboration with HTC. It’s called the Vive, and it’s slated for a late 2015 release.

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One would think that Valve would have a slew of games ready to go with the Vive’s release, and chances are good that it will—but I have to wonder whether or not the device will play nice with the bunch of Oculus-compatible games that live mostly on Steam. Will Valve take an Apple-like stance to competition and start making things tougher for VR competitors?

project-morpheusAnd then there’s Sony’s Project Morpheus, which will be tailor made for the PlayStation 4 console. Console gaming is a much bigger market than PC gaming, so it may not matter how impressive Vive and Rift turn out to be, when the most high-profile headset will likely be the one that’s for sale in your local Toys R Us for your nephew’s video game machine.

We’ve been waiting the longest for the Rift. The Vive will be the first to market. Morpheus will be made for one of the biggest game consoles on the planet right now. So which of those three qualities will give the best chance of VR success?

[First Look at the Rift, Shipping Q1 2016]


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