Why Facebook Discontinued Oculus Rift S - Was it a Mistake?

Facebook released Oculus Rift S in March 2019. A replacement for the Oculus Rift CV1. Both of them of course are PC VR headsets. With all the improvement and same price as the original, it wasn’t able to attract more users by the masses, or at least, not as Facebook expected it to. The Rift S is set to discontinue in Spring 2021. Some say it’s the company’s worst decisions, others welcome this move. Especially those who saved money and bought it, only to find out that it’s being discontinued (I feel for you).

Being a discontinued product means there won’t be any more support for it, and moo more software/firmware updated.

For many people, that was a very easy decision. Why a person who wants to get into VR will buy the Rift S where they can get the Oculus Quest for $100 less, an untethered standalone VR headset, and one that has a higher resolution. Well, if you wondered about that, Facebook also realized that, way before.

The Oculus Go was also a disappointing product. Although cheaper at that time ($199/32GB; $249/64GB) compared to the first Quest ($399), it was lacking positional tracking both for the headset and the controllers. It features a non-positional 3-degree-of-freedom. Basically, you can only play it seated or static-standing position so it was unsuitable for VR room-scale applications.

Of course buying into a PC VR means that users needed to pay no just for a headset, but make sure they have a VR-ready device that is compatible with the minimum requirements for games made for the Oculus Rift / Rift S headsets. If you didn’t have one, you’ll need to invest even more money.

Facebook’s new best solution is an all-in-one untethered device that offers inside-out position tracking and an option to play PC VR games as an optional feature using an optional USB-C cable that connected to the PC (Oculus Link Cable).

The price was also more accessible. You can buy the Oculus Quest 2 (64GB) for $299, whether the Rift S introductory price was $399.99 USD.

Even back then when the first Quest was release people wonder about the future of the Rift. I mean, why get the Rift when you have such a capable VR headset like the Quest. The Quest 2 brought improvement like a much higher-resolution screen and faster processor, reduce headset weight and it was more comfortable than the original. However, this is the first VR headset that actually requires a Facebook account, a step that many people went out against.

The Quest 2 also entered the market with almost no competition. A complete VR consumer-ready standalone headset. It comes with controllers—all ready to start playing the moment you take it out of the box–No strings attached (maybe accept Facebook log-in required).

Also, the Quest 2 starting price was cheaper than the original Oculus Quest ($299 vs $399). If we compare the starting price of other headsets: Valve Index $999, HTC Vive Cosmos: $699, and HP Reverb G2 $599—you can see that the more advanced the headsets aree, the further they move to become a very expensive high-end product.

It’s like all the others competing against themselves who can make the best VR headset, while prices go up like Apple’s iPhones and keeping many consumers away from the technology. What’s the point? – the goal is to attract many consumers and make the market grow so developers will be keen to develop for the platform, not less “lucky few” enjoy it.

Facebook was smart in making a headset to appeal to the masses. And many replied with a positive reaction. You can agree or not, I personally don’t mind the Facebook login. Facebook is facing competition from all these other companies that all they have done is bring the prices up and kept many of us away from being able to experience VR for so many years after the technology was already available. If that is the price to pay, I am easily willing to pay it.

By the way, did you know that you can even play PC VR games wirelessly using a nice trick using the Virtual Desktop App for Quest (source). Hopefully, an official solution will come or a good 3rd party one.

The numbers speak for themselves. The Quest 2 is the first consumer VR headset that many think will become mainstream. There was a boost from Covid for sure and the Quest 2 came at the right time where we needed it.

Facebook was very aggressive with its pricing to be able to achieve its goal. It discontinued the Oculus Rift S as there was no place for these two headsets to exist. The Quest will continue to improve and offer PC VR experiences for those who wish. This will also allow Facebook to put the money into making the Quest 2 even better as this is Facebook’s main VR headset.

Numbers have shown that the Quest 2 was the best decision Facebook made in the field of VR. There is less saturation now that Mobile VR is essentially and effectively dead (i.e. Google’s Daydream and Samsung’s GearVR).

PC VR headsets of course will continue their path, but it doesn’t actually hurt the Quest 2 as it supports PC VR as well using the optional cable.

The Quest 2 surpasses the original Quest in monthly active users in just 7 weeks, and that’s very shortly after its release and become the fastest-growing VR headset by Facebook.

More users, more apps, more devs join, more money is made, both Facebook, devs and consumers earn from this. It’s a success cycle that proven itself very quickly.

Facebook will continue improving the Quest even faster and more efficiently than before as it is its only main VR headset— its flagship headset.

If the Oculus Rift S was a success as Facebook thought it would be–I guess–we probably wouldn’t have seen that shift but the consumer market has spoken. You can release any more of those Rift S, Rift Z, Rift Y–headsets, but the masses won’t show big interest in those, especially not with the growing prices. It just shows that if a company does a thing that is in favor of the consumer, the product can thrive. Some people just need to learn it the hard way. At least Facebook has done something about it, unlike other companies I know :slight_smile:

What’s your opinion?

1 Like

I can’t say that I disagree, although I hope that now facebook will improve the headset even more on the next upgrade. Having two headsets was nice because we were expecting big update due to the PC VR competition. Now some feel like it’s a Nintendo Switch vs PS/XBox type of battle and we won’t get to see headsets that can compete agains their PC VR rivals. But then, we’ll need to wait and see. Hopefully facebook won’t disappoint. Quest 2 is a great headset though.