A hard reality for Oculus Rift: Best Buy pulls VR kiosks from 200 Best Buy stores

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Just under half of the Oculus Rift demo kiosks in Best Buy stores across the U.S. are being shut down, according to a report from Business Insider. The reason? It could be a lack of interest from shoppers.

Apparently, it wasn’t uncommon for Best Buy employees “to go days without giving a single demonstration,” the website said. A memo between a third-party company and store employees reportedly confirmed that the move is due to poor “store performance.” An Oculus spokesperson later confirmed with the website that the Best Buy Rift pop-ups are closing, but said the shift is due to “seasonal changes” and that Oculus is “prioritizing demos … in larger markets.”

The move will reportedly affect 200 of the 500 Best Buy locations in the U.S. that currently have Oculus Rift demo stations. “We still believe the best way to learn about VR is through a live demo,” the spokesperson, Andrea Schubert, said. “We’re going to find opportunities to do regular events and pop-ups in retail locations and local communities throughout the year.” She mentioned that stores in Canada will still have the demo kiosks as well.

Business Insider’s report cited multiple unnamed sources who said that the demo stations were often too buggy to use and demos were infrequent even during the holidays. Another of the site’s sources said that Facebook, which owns Oculus, has considered opening dedicated storefronts to sell the headset, but that those talks are still in the early stage.

Best Buy stores will continue to carry the Rift headsets even if their kiosks get shut down, a Best Buy spokesperson told the site. The Oculus Rift stations first appeared in Best Buy stores early in 2016, with only 48 stores getting units. The partnership later expanded to 500 stores. That number will scale back down to 300.

The Rift kickstarted the current virtual reality craze, but since launching last year has faced stiff competition from the higher-end HTC Vive and the more accessible PlayStation VR.

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