At the beginning of the month virtual reality (VR) fans were in the dark about the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD). While the HTC Vive had been pegged for a holiday 2015 launch and Project Morpheus in the first half of 2016, Oculus VR remained stubbornly silent about the release of its own device. How quickly things can change.
Not only do we now know that the retail Oculus Rift will be launching in the first quarter of 2016, but it’s also been revealed what PC specs we’ll need to use it. Perhaps the most surprising and promising news at this time, though, is that Oculus VR has its own pre-E3 press conference scheduled for 11th June 2015, making it likely the first major event in a week of significant announcements. The date may be known and the specs may be revealed, but there’s still plenty to learn about the Oculus Rift. So what can we expect to hear at the event?
Oculus VR has spent much of 2015 looking at VR’s applications beyond videogames. The most obvious example of this is the announcement of Oculus Story Studio as the company’s film-centric division. E3, however, is the biggest event in the videogame calendar. With that in mind, perhaps the biggest hope for this show is to hear about some of the titles that will be coming to the Oculus Rift in time for launch and beyond. There are plenty of indie developers and even some larger studios already working in VR, but it’s time to see what Oculus VR itself is bringing to the table.
Oculus VR’s publishing efforts are one factor of this, with the company working with the likes of CCP Games on the PC version of EVE: Valkyrie and Playful Corp. on upcoming platform-based title, Lucky’s Tale. Company founder Palmer Lucky has teased that there are well-known developers already working in VR; hopefully Oculus VR is partnering with these studios. Guessing any names right now would be a little too ambitious, but there are plenty of developers that fans would love to see working with the technology.
First-party titles are another exciting proposition. Last year’s E3 saw Oculus VR announce that it had hired Jason Rubin as Head of Worldwide Studios, suggesting that the future of Oculus VR itself resembled that of Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE), Microsoft or Nintendo, lining up its own content to push its own hardware. A year isn’t long in the videogame industry, and it’s not clear what progress Rubin and his teams have made in this time, but it would be great to see some Oculus-developed titles make their debut.
Software should play a big part of the show, then, but there’s still much to answer on the hardware side as well. With that Q1 2016 window revealed just weeks ago, it is perhaps a little ambitious to expect a more specific release date at this point in time, especially with at least six months to go until that launch. But perhaps a hint towards pricing might be on the cards; the Oculus Rift may not be first out of the gate but it may at least be able to lead the charge in terms of cost.
There’s also the issue of input, something that Oculus VR has teased it may have a solution to in time for the big release. Developers will of course need to know what they’re working with, thus it’s surely a better idea to reveal what the company is working on sooner rather than later. Given that hands-on time with videogames will also be expected on the show floor, this could well be a safe bet. Whatever this is, it may not be Oculus VR’s definitive answer to the input issue, as Nimble VR hand-tracking is expected to be included in later iterations of the device.
E3 is going to be a busy time for VR and Oculus VR is getting ahead with its conference. VRFocus will be at the show to bring you all of the latest updates on the technology from each and every company involved with it.