Are you ready? Virtual reality’s (VR’s) equivalent of a boss rush begins, at the time of writing, later today with Google’s totally-not-leaked-to-blazes Pixel phone; and – if we’ve all been good little boys and girls – what should be some more solid information on the Google Daydream. Who knows, we may even get some more Google Cardboard related news, for giggles. That’s a lead on though to this week’s main event: Oculus Connect 3.
And oh boy, do Oculus need to connect.
As I mentioned in last week’s VR vs. thanks to a combination of bad decisions, bad luck and being put in bad situations Oculus do not have the best of reputations and have become, as I called it, “VR’s favourite punching bag”. A statement nobody really disagreed with, which is equal parts pleasing and worrying to me. As a result this, the third Oculus Connect event, is arguably more important than even the first. Since it is Oculus’s big chance to reestablish a connection with its own audience. PlayStation VR is out next week. The ‘long hello’ of the second generation of VR hardware officially at an end and what exactly is the plan now? Oculus enter this week in a perceived third place in VR. Which is impressive since one of the products above them isn’t even out yet. The honeymoon is over for Oculus, they need to step up their game.
Put simply, they need to come out and show they’ve the vision and the fight to change their current perception and position in the pecking order.
Here’s my list of things that I think they need to do over the course of OC3 to truly reestablish themselves.
1: Content. Content. Content.
Straight from the get go this is what we need to see. New games. Boom. New partners. Boom. Significant applications and significant content. Full on experiences and big name players. Oculus needs to be the company to start making these things happen. It needs to be leading the reach out to those developers on the fence and once it has reached out it needs to grab them by the labels and physically drag them over. Another thing that would be particularly good would be to reveal at least one in-house Oculus Games Studio, maybe even announce an acquisition. They’ve had time to layout the groundwork its now time to pump out content that is truly their own. If you’ve the cash behind you (and they do) be decisive.
2: The Universal VR Experience
Oculus already has a significant rival on PC with the HTC Vive. So how does it differentiate and how does it expand its audience? How do you get more people buying an Oculus Rift or interested in an Oculus Rift? Broaden your horizons. We’ve spoken on VRFocus recently about the possibility for “Oculus” or “Rift” becoming the true byword for VR. A good way to do that would be for the Rift to be come usable elsewhere, to become a more universal platform beyond PC. Yup, it’s time to drop the Xbomb.
Whilst it would be nice (and potentially lucrative) to have PlayStation 4 support on board I can’t see Sony being that generous. Microsoft on the other hand, are already on board with offering a degree of Oculus support for the XBox One. We’ve not exactly heard much about it for a while though. Now it’s time to expand that and make it a far more diverse platform. Bring Oculus Home to the Xbox, even if it is just for Project Scorpio. If it needs a connector/adaptor then reveal one – but have Microsoft be the maker. Have Oculus’s mantra be ‘VR for all’ from now on in, which works very well branding wise with what they’re doing with Gear VR.
Speaking of which…
3: Mobile Matters
Let’s not forget ol’ faithful, shall we? The Gear VR has done, and continues to do, a lot of good for VR. Let’s hear some news about just how well the Gear VR has done so far. Brag about it a bit! Before OC3 we have the aforementioned Google event. Google Daydream is coming for the Gear VR, so its time to man the battlements. Yes there’s a new upgraded iteration of the Gear VR. Let’s hear more about that. Let’s have some big content and service announcements for the Gear VR, more connectivity between Gear VR experiences and their ‘big brother’ counterparts. Much as was revealed for Minecraft. Gear VR is part of the family, so be sure to treat it right and not like some distant cousin.
4: The Price Is Right
Oculus and ‘price’ have never gone well, so now’s the time to set this right. As I mentioned some time ago Sony managed to put Oculus in a difficult spot with their non-announcement of a price. PlayStation VR is out in a week? Time to make a statement and realign Oculus’s entire pricing structure with where they sit in the market. Make people rethink their decision to buy the PSVR, put your company more where it needs to be and probably win back a chunk of affection from the VR community in general. All in one (more complicated than I’m making it out to be, I know) stroke.
5: Shine The Spotlight Wisely
In all seriousness, it’s too soon since all the kerfuffle for Palmer Luckey to be talking about stuff on stage. Part of video packages? Sure. You don’t want it to be seen that he’s been cast out. Live microphone? No. It’s sad to say it but you don’t know how the crowd is going to react to him and people will be distracted by talking about him and not what Oculus is trying to convey. Give it some time before easing him back into the picture.
In the same virtual boat is Mark Zuckerberg, who along with having some issues himself at the moment only reminds the virtual hoi polloi that Oculus is owned by Facebook. This connection is often brought up as a reason for Oculus being terrible. So… don’t bring it up! Concentrate on people like Iribe and Carmack who can both be enthused about where the company is going. Have Oculus Story Studio come out with their Emmy, announce something new from their studio and maybe start making some more internal ‘stars’ of the company as well. It all helps.
6: CV2… But Not Yet
I know how the internet hates ‘announcements of announcements’ but I think that’s just what’s needed here. Oculus needs to concentrate on the OC1 a bit longer and making it more desirable. That’s key. But if Oculus is (hopefully) setting out more of a plan for the future, then the reveal of future information regarding a seriously upgraded Oculus CV2 – maybe in 6 months time with a view for it to playable by Oculus Connect 4 – would be a good decisive step forward.
It’s nearly time Oculus. In more ways that one.
What are you going to do?