By David Ingram
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc's virtual reality unit Oculus has cut $200 from the total price of its flagship hardware set, in a bid to expand the system's base of video game players, the company said on Wednesday.
The virtual reality headset Rift and the motion controllers Touch will together retail for $598, Jason Rubin, Oculus' vice president of content, said in a statement.
Facebook paid $2 billion for Oculus in 2014, believing it to be the next major computing platform. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has said that Oculus would spend $500 million to fund virtual reality content development.
Oculus and other virtual reality makers are struggling to make their products competitive with other gaming systems that sell for much less.
Oculus believes the lower entry price will attract consumers to virtual reality for personal computers at a faster pace, Rubin said. "This price drop was as inevitable as it is beneficial. This is how the technology business works," he said.
A larger user base would lead to easier player matching, better communities and the ability to invest more in gaming titles, he said, calling those results "a virtuous cycle."
Rift used to retail for $599 on its own, while Touch sold for $199.
Rival virtual reality company Vive, a unit of HTC Corp, said it would not match Oculus on price and would not change its "strategy of delivering the best and most comprehensive VR product." Its system is listed at $799 on its website.
"We don't feel the need to cut the price of Vive, as we've had incredible success, and continue to see great momentum in market," Vive spokesman Patrick Seybold said in a statement.
Sony Corp joined the race for virtual reality dominance in October with a $399 headset, the PlayStation VR, which was the company's first major product launch since it emerged from years of restructuring.
(Reporting by David Ingram; Additional reporting by Laharee Chatterjee; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)