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VR delay is a scalper's paradise: $1,600 for Oculus, $2,000 for Vive

Where the heck is my VR headset, and should I sell it on eBay?

Call it virtual scarcity.

Thanks to shipping delays, the $600 (£499, around AU$1,150) Oculus Rift and $800 (£689, AU$1,340) HTC Vive virtual reality headsets are currently fetching up to $2,000 (roughly £1,400, AU$2,575) on eBay. That isn't just the asking price -- headsets are actually selling for those sums.

Which means if you're one of the lucky few buyers who've received a Rift or Vive, you now have to pick between a taste of the future or more than doubling your money.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. If you preordered one of the very first Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headsets, it was supposed to ship on March 28 or April 5, respectively. (They should have arrived by now.)

But both hotly anticipated VR headsets have stumbled on the way to your door.

With the Oculus Rift, a mysterious component shortage has pushed back shipments by weeks or even months, depending on who you ask. "Many Rifts will ship less than four weeks from original estimates," reads one Oculus statement. But others are seeing estimates nearly two months after launch -- even if they preordered the Rift mere minutes after Oculus started accepting their credit cards.

More fuel for the fire: It's very possible that people who wait to buy an Oculus Rift bundle with a gaming PC -- no preorder needed -- will get their headsets before those who have been waiting in line for months.

Amazon currently lists five such bundles scheduled to arrive on April 23, ranging from $1,499 to $3,148 (roughly £1,050 to £2,205 or AU$1,930 to AU$4,045). If you had an Oculus Rift today, you could afford an entire Asus computer bundle by selling the headset on eBay.

Meanwhile, HTC claims that there hasn't actually been a shipment delay for the HTC Vive -- just a few breakdowns in payment processing and communications. The company claims it started shipping units on April 5 as originally planned. But you shouldn't expect to necessarily get a day-one preorder until the end of April, and even then only if your order was confirmed to ship in April. Several CNET editors ordered within minutes of launch, and we're still waiting.

Here's HTC's current promise:

Even if you got your order in before other customers, you may not get your headset first if you live in a different region: HTC clarified to Wired that its first-come, first-serve order policy is being handled on a country-by-country basis. Some Vive orders were also automatically canceled when banks thought the Vive was a potentially fraudulent charge on their credit cards, though HTC is working to reinstate them. (My bank was among them; you might want to proactively call your bank and let them know to expect a big charge from HTC Corporation.)

HTC does say the Vive won't appear at retail until June, so it's not as likely as with Oculus that people might get to jump the preorder line simply by buying a headset at a store.

Neither company has yet said specifically why the headsets are rolling out so slowly that pre-orders within the first 15 minutes have yet to arrive at consumers' doors. Both Oculus and Microsoft have denied that a shortage of Xbox One controllers (one comes with each Oculus Rift) might be to blame.

But unless you've got $1,500-plus to drop on a new computer or an eBay auction...there's nothing to do but wait.

Disclosure: Sean Hollister's wife works for Facebook, owner of Oculus VR.