Okay, here we are. Part three and just in the nick of time before we all phase out of January and into February. It’s also rather close to me disappearing by way of a week off around my birthday so let’s get these underway, shall we? As with some of the ones before some or potentially all of these are connected in some way – but this time not with an overall theme. More than one could, in theory lead in to another and another after that. In one case it deliberately does. It’s time to get back to the more familiar names in virtual reality (VR) starting with one prediction that I kind of had last year too.
Before we do though, can I just say my thanks to Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) who kindly waited until I’d got my VR vs. article including predictions about them and new motion controller technology out before patents about such were found? You can both learn from this Nintendo and Magic Leap!
9) Oculus’ Progress Entirely Undone Within Weeks
I have a work in progress theory about Oculus. Either the place is built on an ancient Indian burial ground or Zuckerberg broke into the Ancient Egyptian tomb of the lost Pharaoh Tech-man-khamun or something when he was younger and has be cursed in a particularly odd manner. As I’ve said before on this series, sometimes it seems that no matter what Oculus does they can’t do good for doing bad, often getting what I at least consider to be the rough end of the stick when it comes to how things pan out.
If they announce X, their rivals will reveal X+ (and probably be cheaper than X just to rub it in), it’s just the way it is. Something always turns up to spoil their day… and there hasn’t been anything yet to do so from their Oculus Connect 4 announcements. In fact, in a refreshing change of pace, everything seems to be going quite smoothly for the company as it moves towards the release of its two standalone head mounted displays (HMDs) – the Oculus Go and the Santa Cruz.
Now, to be clear I hardly want this to happen, but I am betting on their own tendency for misfortune to follow them that some factor comes along that ruins their party. As to what this is, I’m not sure. Originally I had this written down as ‘entirely undone by Vive’ and even that it was Oculus’ ‘announcement karma’ but I’m still not entirely comfortable with the wording. Will it be Vive? Will it be someone from Oculus or Facebook’s side that causes a kerfuffle à la Palmer? Or will everything be fine and Oculus continue their good progress without getting set back? We’ll see, won’t we.
10) ZeniMax Reveals Own HMD
Okay let’s get into the juicy bit.
We’re due, and soon I’d wager, the next chapter in the saga that is ZeniMax versus Oculus et al and I have to say it’s something I’m not particularly looking forward to. Ultimately it doesn’t help VR’s standing in the minds of the populous in the slightest. We’ve kind of wondered just what ZeniMax have planned within VR itself, and this prediction is that within this year we’ll have our answer – and it will include details of ZeniMax’s own headset.
Yes, it would make far more sense to leave well alone until things are finally settled in court. I just don’t think they’d care that much about complicating the issue further still. I’m not saying it’ll be a world beater, it may even be something akin to that being produced by Starbreeze (and now Acer) with the StarVR, more targeting event spaces and VR arcades than home use. But I’m thinking if ZeniMax think they are entitled to a piece of the pie (if not the pie entirely) they have the financial clout behind then that they may continue thing by getting more directly involved in the hardware. As for how it is revealed, well it’ll probably be some sort of patent filing as opposed to any actual announcement but either way.
You’re probably thinking that if that actually happened it’d make things very interesting indeed, setting the cat among the proverbial pigeons… and you’d be completely right on that point. So let’s address that next!
11) …And Is Hit With A Patent Violation Claim By Oculus. AND Others
I’ve always been of the opinion that the only thing preventing VR from ultimately becoming a success was itself. That is to say the most likely path for immersive technology was to fail was if it effectively ate itself. Since the beginning of the present generation of VR (let’s call it the second generation after that from the nineties and that which we’re heading towards the third) there’s been something of a degree of camaraderie, for want of a better word, between companies. Whilst the fanbases of each HMD can sometimes throw their toys out of the pram for the makers themselves there’s still that altruistic feeling of ‘we’re all in this together’, even if in some areas they’re not and there’s the odd barbed comment that zips across from Middle Manager No. 6.
ZeniMax do not exactly give off that sense. So, if things do kick off with a ZeniMax HMD expect that, beyond the inevitable claim from Oculus that the headset violates their own patents, that other hardware developers claim the same. Samsung seem destined to be dragged ever deeper into the lawsuit anyway and aren’t afraid of litigation over patents (see: Apple) but I wouldn’t put it past HTC or Sony to make a complaint too to protect their own interests.
Lawsuits! Litigation! Injunctions! Blocks! Unimaginable legal power! Unlimited legal rice pudding! Etc…
12) But It’s Samsung That Surprises Everyone
When all is said and done I’m going to put my virtual money on Samsung being the hardware manufacturer that actually makes one of the biggest splashes this year with something complete out of leftfield. New hardware? Probably. I think we’re owed something from Samsung in that regard now. The Gear VR does the job and always has done but when it comes down to it is it enough to continue tweaking the design every so often – or is it time for them to step up their game? I think the latter, and if they cut loose we could see something quite special.
Technically I have several more predictions but I might add those in a supplemental update down the road. For now though that’s the end of my predictions for this year. We’ll see how well I did this time in 2019.