This is Niche Gamer Tech. In this column, we regularly cover tech and things related to the tech industry. Please leave feedback and let us know if there’s tech or a story you want us to cover!
Palmer Luckey, the co-founder of Oculus VR and creator of both the original concept and prototypes for the Oculus Rift headset, is offering free repair kits to fix the device’s audio issues. He’s doing this, despite no longer working at Oculus or Facebook.
Via his personal blog, Luckey explains how the “eventual failure of the complex electromechanical assembly that gets audio from the Rift to your ears” is the sort of design flaw that did not become apparent until after the device’s launch.
He cites, “long-term use of the Oculus Rift CV1 often leads to failure of important electrical paths in a specific ribbon cable that winds through the strap.” Whether this results in audio cutout for one or both headphones, the Rift Repair 1 kit (RR1) can fix it.
“The kit works as an external wiring harness for the Oculus Rift CV1 that can be configured in a variety of ways to address a variety of different failures while running in parallel to the existing electrical system.”
In cases where Oculus Customer Support cannot help (such as if the Oculus Rift headset is out of warranty), Luckey asks users to “please forward your ticket and a mailing address to [email protected], and I will send you an RR1 repair kit free of charge.” He even asks Oculus Customer Support to “feel free to direct customers who are out of warranty to my kit.”
Luckey’s motivation stems from regretting “people who bought a Rift from me and can’t use it properly anymore,” and feeling those users are the most important of all:
“Maximizing the number of people in the VR ecosystem is also important to me, and the people who have been using their headsets for years on end tend to be among the most engaged, most valuable users who dump tons of money into the content ecosystem. Properly functioning, high quality audio that does not rely on fumbling with third party headphones and cables is an important part of getting users to regularly engage, and the market research bears it out – there is a reason everyone is building audio into their headsets, even companies that initially doubted the importance.”
Luckey left parent company Facebook in March 2017. Later speculation started that he had been fired for donating to a “pro-Trump political organization” that created memes in support of Donald Trump and against Hillary Clinton.