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Best Buy Pulling Oculus Rift Demo Stations From 200 Stores

Variety logo Variety 2/9/2017 Janko Roettgers
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Best Buy is significantly cutting the number demo stations for Facebook’s Oculus Rift virtual reality headset in its stores: The retail giant will shut down VR demo stations in 200 stores.

Business Insider, which was first to report the news Wednesday, cited sources at Best Buy attributing the closures to a lack of interest. However, Oculus denied those charges, claiming the changes were “seasonal.”

Oculus entered a retail partnership with Best Buy in April of 2016, and Best Buy began demonstrating the Oculus Rift headset at 500 of its stores in August of last year. 300 of those stores will continue to have Rift demo stations, and the rest of the stores will keep selling the $600 headset, as well as the $200 Touch controller.

After speaking to multiple store clerks at Best Buy, Business Insider reported that some of the stores saw very little interest in the device. Even during the busy holiday season, stores would just sell a few Rift headsets per week. One retail worker put in charge of giving demos of the headset told the website that on some days, no demos were given at all due to a lack of interest. Another worker complained about software bugs often rendering the headsets useless.

Facebook has yet to release any sales numbers for the Oculus Rift headset, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long been suggesting that it will take time for products like these to reach a mass market audience. Zuckerberg has frequently compared virtual reality to the development of the smart phone market, likening today’s headsets to pre-iPhone hardware from manufacturers like Palm and Blackberry.

At the same time, Facebook continues to invest heavily in VR. Last October, Zuckerberg revealed that the company had spent $250 million on VR content development alone. At the time, Zuckerberg also pledged to shell out another $250 million for VR content in the near future.

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