Computer-powered, not mobile-driven, virtual reality headsets continues to lead innovation in the VR space and standalone headsets are the final form-factor of the technology, Jason Rubin, vice president of content at Facebook-owned Oculus told a gathering of developers at GDC Wednesday.
“We think standalone is vital,” Rubin said, “We think standalone is the final factor. If we want to get to iOS or Android scale, which we think we can do in the long run, we need to continue to improve accessibility, portability and ease of use.”
Rubin went on to say that Oculus “arguably” makes the best VR hardware in the market. “We’re pushing the industry to lower prices, which is good for the consumer and ultimately for developers because you need that big market.”
Rubin’s talk kicked-off an hour-long set of presentations that introduced a number of new features to Oculus VR including the coming ability for users to create their own content in the service’s Home and invite online friends to social parties.
“Social in VR is a new future we are investing in and we’re hoping that you will join us in that journey,” Ross O’Dwyer, Oculus’ director of engineer, told the gathering.
Oculus plans to show off both it’s new standalone hardware called the Oculus Go and it’s high-end next-gen VR headset codenamed Santa Cruz.
While Oculus’s demo area has many more Oculus Go than Santa Cruz, Rubin told the gathering that people shouldn’t read anything into that.
“PC is vital to the VR business,” he said. “We think PC is going to lead innovation for at least a decade and probably more.”
Oculus didn’t spend very much time talking about Santa Cruz. Chris Pruett, head of developer relations engineering, told the gathering that the team spent a lot of time working to get all of the heat out of the device so they could push the built-in chips to deliver more power.
“This device is designed for games,” he said. “We think of this as almost a VR console.”
He said that the company is just starting to very slowly ship out dev kits and that a lot more are expected to start shipping this summer.
Oculus also announced three upcoming titles for the upcoming Oculus Go, during the talk: Anshar Online, Catan VR and They Suspect Nothing.
Anshar Online is an MMO space shooter that allows up to six players to seamlessly play across the Oculus Go, Gear and Rift, said Ruth Bram, a producer at Oculus Studios. She said that Catan VR is a full-featured version of the popular board game that also supports crossplay among Oculus’ devices. They Suspect Nothing is a puzzle game made up of about 20 mini games and empowered by “lots of British humor,” Bram said.
“Oculus is funding developers to make the next wake of VR and we’re getting them to focus on making VR a daily activity,” she said. To do that, the company believes games have to be shareable, replayable and somewhat competitive, she said.
Jason Rubin noted earlier in the presentation that Oculus was indeed investing less in games made by outside developers. Instead of investing in a lot of games, the company is investing in fewer larger titles, he said.
“We think consumers want bigger titles, they want AAA titles,” he said, adding that by attracting more consumers to Oculus with big titles, it will eventually increase the size of the market and improve the VR ecosystem.
“We want to get out of your way, we don’t want you competing with our money,” he told the developers. “We are focused on attracting consumers who, once they play those bigger titles, say, ‘What else is out there?’”