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Can the Oculus Go Get 1 Billion People to Use VR?

Oculus VR CTO John Carmack has high hopes for the standalone Oculus Go VR headset, which he sees disrupting the market as much as tablets did when they first burst on the scene.

Just as consumers might pick up a low-cost Android tablet instead of spending big on a new PC, wannabe VR enthusiasts who don't want to pay upwards of $2,000 for an Oculus Rift and powerful gaming PC can instead get started with the $199 Oculus Go, which does not require an attached PC or smartphone.

Facebook-owned Oculus hasn't released detailed specs for the Go, which arrives next year, but Carmack acknowledged at the company's developer conference today that it "had to cut hard on what hardware could go in to make that $199 price point."

Oculus VR John Carmack speaks at Oculus Connect 4.

As a result, the Oculus Go won't be as powerful as the Oculus Rift, the company's now-$399 VR headset, which requires a high-end gaming PC to run. But "I signed up for this mission of getting a billion people in VR. And that's not going to happen with very expensive hardware," Carmack said.

Carmack also isn't willing to wait 10 or 15 years for higher-end VR technologies to become more affordable and trickle down to all consumers. "The power of the PC will never get to a mobile platform," he added. "We will run out of Moore's Law first. It just won't get there."

He expects the Go's $199 price—and the fact that it's compatible with content that already exists for the Samsung Gear VR—will make the Go "giftable" this holiday season. If not, it's back to the drawing board for more high-end VR products, he said—like the upcoming second-gen, standalone Oculus Rift, codenamed Santa Cruz.

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