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Facebook Says Oculus Rift On Track for Debut in Q1 2016

Facebook, Inc.FB is gearing up for the planned launch of Oculus Rift in the first quarter of 2016. Oculus chief Palmer Luckey yesterday tweeted that the VR headset will be available for pre-orders soon after the New Year begins, though it will be launched after a prior-notification.

Per reports, the popular game, EVE Valkyrie(a sci-fi flight simulator) will be available along with Oculus Rift pre-orders. However, there are no updates regarding whether the company will also take pre-orders for Oculus Touch Controller along with the Rift. Oculus Touch is a set of tracked controllers (like virtual hands) that make the virtual reality experience even more real.

The company is now making the Rift available to developers gradually. As stated by the company, "The Rift SDK 1.0 and runtime include features tied to the consumer product, so we've currently limited the release to developers putting final touches on launch titles." This would ensure that sufficient virtual reality content is ready for users by the time the device hits stores.

Meanwhile, Oculus is accepting the preview of developed games through its 'Oculus submission tool'. It is specifically meant for developers who do not have access to the required hardware yet.

Facebook has been pushing to take virtual reality to the mainstream audience for a while now. It had acquired Oculus VR, a virtual reality technology company, which developed the Oculus Rift gaming headset in 2014, for approximately $2 billion.

While it had the resources and technology to develop VR solutions, the main challenge was the availability of content to support the new technology. The company has taken a number of small steps previously (like the 360-degree video and the Gear VR headset) to encourage developers to create content in the field. Earlier this year, the company stated that it will be spending as much as $10 million on the development of games. In addition, the company also started an 'Oculus Ready' program in Sep 2015 to enable users to choose PCs with the configuration to support Oculus.

The main reason for all these initiatives is immense scope for growth in this nascent market. According to a 2014-2018 report from KZero, a U.K.-based consulting and research firm that focuses on virtual reality, the market will grow exponentially going ahead and could be worth $5.2 billion by 2018. The company also expects the active user base to grow from 0.2 million in 2014 to 42.8 million in 2016 and cross 170 million by 2018.

However, Oculus Rift (priced at approximately $350) will face decent competition in the market with other players like HTC and Steam also scheduled to release their offerings by Apr 2016. Nonetheless, a first quarter launch will definitely give Oculus an edge.

Facebook currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Some other tech stocks worth considering include Mercadolibre, Inc. MELI , MeetMe, Inc. MEET and Synacor, Inc. SYNC . All three stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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