200 Oculus VR demo stations closing down at Best Buy

A report suggests slow traffic was behind the decision.

After an apparent lack of interest, around 200 virtual reality demo stations at Best Buy stores are being closed down by Facebook.

The social media giant owns Oculus VR and last May started offering free Oculus Rift headset demonstrations at 500 Best Buys across the country and Canada.

But Business Insider reported on Wednesday that 200 of these demo stations will close, with some Best Buy workers telling the news site that they sometimes went days without giving a single demonstration.

Oculus spokeswoman Andrea Schubert confirmed the closings to Business Insider, saying they are making "some seasonal changes and prioritizing demos" at Best Buy locations in larger markets.

In a third quarter earnings call in November, Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly said the retailer had logged 300,000 Oculus demos in six months.

"We're always testing, trying and changing things in our stores to give our customers the best opportunity to experience and shop for technology," a Best Buy spokesperson told GoMN. "We'll continue to have Oculus demos at hundreds of stores across the country, and stores that no longer have demos will continue to have Rift headsets and Touch controllers available for purchase."

Best Buy did not confirm which Minnesota stores would be affected.

The VR competition

Oculus has fallen behind its competitors when it comes to virtual reality headset sales, with Mobile & Apps reporting it shifted an estimated 250,000 of the headsets – which cost around $600 – in 2016.

By contrast, the Samsung Gear VR headsets, which retail at $99 , sold 6.3 million last year – no doubt helped by using Samsung phones as the screen, rather than having its own internal display.

Playstation VR, which costs $400 but has to be used with a PS4, sold 750,000 units. Best Buy has had limited demos of that headset at stores, though none in Minnesota currently. While HTC Vive (which costs a hefty $800), sold 420,000 sets.

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