GO on then: Facebook's Oculus to axe its entry-level VR headset

3DoF bad, 6DoF good

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Updated Facebook-owned Oculus has bowed to the seemingly inevitable and told the world about the demise of its entry-level Oculus Go VR headset.

Launched two years ago, the Go arrived with a starting price of $199 (for 32GB of storage) and a 2560 x 1440 LCD display. Crucially, it did not need a PC to do its VR wizardry and proved a handy, if a little limited, introduction into the world of virtual reality.

We checked one out back in 2018 and found it a worthwhile curiosity, and a handy way of dipping a toe into the waters of VR without spanking the cash on the rig needed to run a full-fat Rift or Vive.

Facebook's US$199 Oculus Go VR headset

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The arrival of the Oculus Quest in May 2019, with beefier processor and 6 degrees of freedom (DoF), up from the 3 degrees of the Go, heralded the end of the entry-level model. "You've told us loud and clear that 6DoF feels like the future of VR," exclaimed the company, which plans to end sales of the Go this year.

The end will come swiftly. Oculus will not be accepting any new Go apps or updates into its store after 4 December 2020 although it will keep patching the system software for the headsets through 2022. After that, Go users are on their own.

The move leaves Oculus with a gap in its line-up. The more capable Quest retails for £399 or £499, depending on memory, while the entry level 32GB Go now retails for £139. The 64GB version is £189.

Those who flog the gear to corporate customers expressed some dismay to The Register at the announcement, pointing out that the extra toys afforded by the Quest weren't needed for many applications and that the Go represented a good price point.

"This sets the bar of nearly 1k just for a company or establishment to buy a headset," said one who worried that the move might make VR less attractive and out of reach for smaller companies lacking deep pockets. "Hopefully," the developer added, "they will reduce the cost of the Quest. Because the extra subscription cost is also a turn-off."

Oculus for Business has an MRP of $999 for a 128GB Quest and a 12-month subscription ($180/year after that).

For its part, Oculus is also tweaking the software distribution model for its wire-free headset by adding a method for developers to distribute Quest apps without having to be accepted into the Oculus Store, "and without the need for sideloading," the company added. The update will come in 2021, although the VR-flinger was quick to state that the existing Store curation process wouldn't be going anywhere.

The Register asked Oculus if the company had plans to either drop the price of the Quest or introduce another device at its price point and will update should we receive an answer. ®

Updated to add

"Our end goal is to bring VR to as many people as possible, and that means offering a premium VR experience at an affordable price remains very important to us," Facebook told The Register. "It’s something we’ll continue to consider and prioritize as we build the future of VR."

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