It wouldn’t be a week in the virtual reality (VR) industry without some sort of controversy and, sure enough, last week was punctuated with some confusion over one of the most anticipated Oculus Rift compatible titles on the horizon, ADR1FT. As both a VR and non-VR title, fans were wondering what was the best way to purchase Three One Zero’s project. Would buying through Steam, for example, allow you to play ADR1FT in VR? Or could you strictly only purchase it over on Oculus Home to do so?
Eventually, it was revealed that the developer will be providing codes to download the VR version for anyone that purchases through either Steam or the upcoming Collector’s Edition. It was an encouraging piece of news that suggests that other studios releasing both on VR and traditional platforms might follow suit. But can we expect this same sort of offering for every multiplatform VR title going forward?
As much as VRFocus would like this to be the case, it seems doubtful. Oculus VR, after all, hopes to make up for the losses it’s making on selling units of the Oculus Rift with software sales. It’s hard to see where the company would get a cut of the money in providing free codes to download its titles in every VR compatible title purchased through Steam. No transaction has been made on Oculus VR’s part. And what about when the tables turn? If you buy a title from Oculus Home, can you also expect to download it on Steam and play it on the HTC Vive? Again, it seems unlikely.
It’s an unfortunate but understandable situation that may have a few feasible solutions. Oculus VR could, for example, perhaps offer discounts on Oculus Home for titles that the user has already bought through Steam. If someone had already picked up Sublevel Zero on Steam to play it with the second development kit (DK2) of the Oculus Rift, perhaps when it eventually goes on sale through Oculus Home those customers could pay a small fee in order to be able to play it with the consumer version of the device.
Sure, it’s not a perfect solution, but it’s better than the alternative of Oculus VR charging full price for something fans already own in one form or another.
Essentially, it’s up to Oculus VR and Valve when it comes to resolving this situation. Can we expect a VR market with strict sides that refuse to bleed into each other? Or will the pair work together to create a VR ecosystem that’s as convenient and as fair to consumers as possible? We’ll know in just a few weeks’ time.