The virtual reality (VR) community is currently in disarray. Yesterday’s announcement that the leading light in modern VR development, Oculus VR, is to be purchased by Facebook has ruffled many-a-feather, but in reality this is far from the end. In fact, what happens next in the world of VR is very much up to you.
The late 1980s saw VR hyperbole reach it’s peak. It was a time when we believed anything could be possible; not just ‘we’ the gamers, but ‘we’ the mainstream public consciousness. Sadly, this was not the case. Expensive processing power and bulky production values left the reality of VR decades behind the dream that it promised. But those decades have come-and-gone, and now a new wave of VR is upon us. Fronted by the Oculus Rift.
Having successfully sold over 65,000 units of its original development kit (DK1), Oculus VR recently announced a second design (DK2) set to launch this July. However, at this point in time, no retail unit has been revealed. This was the situation prior to yesterday’s buyout announcement just as it is now. What’s more, there are many other companies in the exact same situation.
Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) revealed Project Morpheus at last week’s Game Developers Conference (GDC) to rapturous applause and received a great commendation from many journalists, VRFocus included, for delivering an impressive showcase of both hardware and software. Project Morpheus is set to launch as a member of the PlayStation branded family, and as such will surely find an audience eager to adopt it. SCE have been noted in recent years as being incredibly keen to work with indies of any size – far more so that Nintendo and Microsoft – and are likely to continue to do so. Are you a developer? Working on a VR project? There are more opportunities than Steam and Oculus Share out there.
If you’re determined to stick with PC look to the forthcoming CastAR. It’s a different kettle of fish for sure, but given it’s compatibility with Unity and the flexibility of it’s three vision modes (with the full details of it’s VR mode still yet to be revealed) there’s a lot of opportunity in Technical Illusions’ forthcoming lightweight unit. A more traditional VR experience will also be available via VRElia’s range of headsets. While videogames may not be the focus here, they could well provide a reasonably priced alternative for those who feel burned by the Oculus VR acquisition.
Then there’s Android and iOS development with the likes of Altergaze and GameFace – an established audience with a competitively priced distribution pipeline – and of course, though they are yet to reveal their plans, you’d be a fool to bet against Microsoft entering the space in the not too distant future. The VR playing field is still wide open for hardware manufacturers, software developers and consumers. The winner won’t be determined by those who shout the loudest or spend the most money, but by those the audience invest in. The future of VR is still very much ours to create as we wish.