Back in September 2014 Oculus VR held its first ever developer conference in Oculus Connect. Shortly after the show, VRFocus reflected on how the company had shown a positive new side that suggested it would be able to present itself properly when the time came to directly address consumers about the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD). It was an organised, efficient event that raised the bar for the standard expected of Oculus VR announcements going forward. Sadly, the 2014 Samsung Developer Conference (SDC) didn’t quite meet that bar.
Granted that, as the name suggests, Oculus VR weren’t in the driver’s seat for SDC, which played host to the reveal of lots of new information about the Gear VR smartphone-based HMD. But that doesn’t excuse the frankly messy relaying of that information.
The blame largely rests on the Samsung keynote that kicked off the second day of the conference. The presentation delivered on the news that fans had been waiting for, providing a launch window of early December for Gear VR, but left out critical information that was puzzlingly revealed after the keynote itself. Launch regions, for example, were kept frustratingly quiet, leaving fans to work out for themselves that Gear VR’s pre-registration was for the USA only and that it was only expected to launch in that country during the timeframe it had shared.
Given that there was no price announced during the keynote, you’d have thought that Samsung simply wasn’t ready to share this information. And yet later that day Oculus VR announced the price itself, starting at $199 USD, on a blog update that was also the first official source to confirm that the launch window was USA-only. Stranger still was Oculus VR’s release of the anticipated mobile software development kit (SDK) online during the keynote itself but without so much as a word on it in the speech. One might think that the developers listening in on a developer conference keynote would want to hear about the new development kit.
Again, it’s clear that Oculus VR wasn’t in complete control of how their announcements at SDC were made. At the end of the day, Gear VR is Samsung’s product and the company most likely has the final say of what is announced and how. In fact, the handling of this information has been kept in line with the company’s track record of failing to mention a near-two-month delay and quietly announcing major changes to the launch store. But there’s no doubt that these reveals could have been made much more efficiently. If this were the videogame industry and Sony Computer Entertainment had revealed the price of the PlayStation 4 on its PlayStation Blog after announcing a release date at a press conference that it failed to mention was US-only, fans would be left rightly confused.
It’s a step back from the tight, efficient Oculus Connect event, that’s for sure. But this is no doubt down to the strain of handling the sharing of information in a partnership. There’s little doubt that, when Oculus VR gets the spotlight once more, it will keep in line with what we’ve come to expect from the company when it operates by itself and not with a gigantic corporation that it must juggle information with.
At least the information is now out there, however. Questions were beginning to rise as to if Gear VR was even ready to ship pre-conference and now VR fans can get back to looking forward to the launch of one of the first true consumer HMDs. It’s not long until the launch of Gear VR now and VRFocus will continue to follow the kit’s progress leading up to launch, bringing you all of the latest information on it.