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Oculus Rift CV1

VR vs. Oculus Exclusives – How They’re Helping VR Today

Earlier this week, one of VRFocusolder interviews with Chronos developer Gunfire Games was shared on Reddit. In the short chat, the studio’s David Adams confirmed that the upcoming adventure title would be ‘100% exclusive’ to the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD), a quote that was highlighted in the thread’s headline. In the comments, there’s been a lengthy, mostly healthy debate about the nature of exclusives in VR and what this means for the medium as a whole, a topic that VRFocus has visited before. The YouTube comments that have come about from the spotlight, however, are much more vitriolic. 

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It’s hardly surprising to see people protected by the cloak of internet anonymity jump at the chance to complain about some perceived injustice. That doesn’t make it any less disheartening to see such ignorant, often vulgar comments thrown about. People want VR to be different from the console race, they want exclusives to be a thing of the past, but they – or rather some – are not prepared to change their own immature attitudes and responses to this type of news. But that’s not what this article is about.

If 2016 has taught us anything about VR so far, it’s that high-end PC-based systems are going to be out of most people’s price range for a long time. Console players are not going to be pulled in by $599 USD and $799 HMDs that also need a $1,000+ PC. To be blunt, there simply isn’t going to be an install base for the tech that’s attractive to many larger videogame studios in the near future. Tellingly, HTC itself was impressed to learn that it had received 15,000 pre-orders for the HTC Vive within the first 10 minutes of the campaign going live. There’s no way of telling how that number’s grown in the past week, but you can be sure that it isn’t large enough to justify any bigger studios jumping onto the platform independently.

Let’s get one thing straight from the start, then; Chronos would almost certainly not even exist if Oculus VR was not funding it. In fact, it’s doubtful that Gunfire Games, a fresh studio born out of the closure of Darksiders developer Vigil Games, would even be working on VR, regardless of platform. The same can no doubt be said for the vast majority of titles in development under the ‘Oculus Studios’ banner.

EdgeofNowhere_2

Insomniac Games, Harmonix, Crytek; there are big names that are currently working on Oculus Rift exclusives years before we would have thought they would. Do you really think that Insomniac Games – a developer known for exclusive partnerships with both Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) and Microsoft – would be working on Edge of Nowhere off of its own back? The initial install base for PC VR simply isn’t going to make the year of time and resources spent justifiable. Not to mention that, as the team’s Brian Allgeier told VRFocus at E3, it was Oculus VR that first approached the studio with developing in VR.

But there are alternative ways of obtaining funding, you say. Perhaps that’s true; perhaps Insomniac Games could have posted a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign, although it’s appeal would again be limited to those that intend to buy a VR HMD. Perhaps it could have turned to a publisher, though the handful that are brave enough to be working on the tech right now aren’t producing anything near the narrative-driven scale of Edge of Nowhere. The simple fact is Oculus VR has made it far easier for these teams to get involved, so much so that Insomniac Games, as with every other Oculus Studios partner, has either pitched or is already working on a second VR title. It’s a relationship that’s working and that means more VR content.

So the fault lies with Palmer Luckey and Co, then? Why can’t they take the admirable exclusive-free stance of Valve? Couldn’t the company have found it in its heart to do away with exclusivity and offer all of the titles it’s working on over on the HTC Vive too? No, because this is still a company that needs to compete with its rivals and, frankly, needs every reason it can get to convince people to buy its box over the more advanced HTC Vive, even at $200 cheaper. SCE  is lining up exclusives for PlayStation VR and, from a technical point of view, there are plenty of titles that can only come to the HTC Vive, at least until Oculus Touch is released. Expecting charity from Oculus VR on this side is unreasonable, especially considering that it’s looking to software sales to make up for losses made on hardware.

In Oculus Studios, Oculus VR has cast a safety net for many large developers, getting them into the VR scene much faster than many would have anticipated. It’s a move the company should be applauded for, not condemned. You may not like it but Oculus Rift exclusives are here to stay, and any new developer that gets involved with VR because of them needs to be welcomed, not attacked. If you disagree with that then maybe it’s time to ask yourself: who’s really hurting the VR industry? Because it certainly isn’t the company that made the Oculus Rift.

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  1. “If you disagree with that then maybe it’s time to ask yourself: who’s really hurting the VR industry? Because it certainly isn’t the company that made the Oculus Rift.”

    Great conclusion ! Forgive me please, i wich the VR will come without any war and any division.
    Thank to us, thank to you, now i know that Oculus is the God of the VR.

  2. While I respect your opinion, Oculus’ push for exclusivity is a big reason I chose the Vive over the Rift. I simply won’t support that kind of marketing strategy (like I don’t support SpyBook). Choosing a Rift over a Vive now seems like a short-term gain, long-term loss kind of proposition. If wide adoption of VR is Luckey’s ultimate goal, as he is always stating, then why create such a divide in the market? I have a feeling that the decision may be out of his hands.

    1. I agree that exclusives are bad for consumers, and should be kept away from the PC. However it’s completely ridiculous and naive to expect Oculus to change their plans before launch.

      Oculus invested millions so that there would be VR games to play when the Rift launched. This was before Vive, PSVR, OSVR were ever announced. Should they now stop what they are doing and support their competitors? (Lets not forget their main competitor holds a monopoly on the PC games market.). Without their Store, Oculus wouldn’t have any method to make money.

      If by this time next year, Valve and Oculus haven’t agreed on a way to add Vive support to their first-party titles in the Oculus Store. Then be angry, AT BOTH OF THEM. This is a two way street, Oculus would love more customers to their store. They are likely negotiating over the details such as SDK access, who provides technical support and who pays for the development time.

    2. Don’t get me wrong there both amazing headsets, but if you go to the steam store vive has exclusives as well that the rift cant have. so thats not really a reason to choose the vive. Their both great so it seems like its the old xbox vs playstation wars at the moment but solely for pc users. When did the pc platform get so divided? not saying its you but if you see comments these days on other sites its all out war, the rift and vive are output devices, really great ones but still output devices, at this rate people are going to start fighting over their monitors, my lg is better than your asus monitor 🙂

  3. Agree with Eden here. One of the reasons why I chose the Vive was because I wanted to vote for openness with my wallet. Now is not the time to create barriers and frustration for VR users… it’s time to convince all users to get aboard and invest in this exiting future.

    But in fareness, would have gone Vive anyway as it’s a complete VR system.

    1. It is also the reason I went with the Vive. I have no problem with Oculus touch users being able to play all the games that we will beable to enjoy on the Vive at launch in fact I welcome it. Sure I might miss out on a few gems , but i would prefer to support openness and inclusiveness than turn this into another exclusives war like it is with consoles, thats just not in the spirit of PC based gaming. Its too bad Oculus doesnt see it that way, i get what they are trying to do but if VR fails to gain mainstream adoption because its too fragmented and all the best developers are developing on a system where only 30-40% of the player base is (its going to be substantially more than that at first) its just as much Oculus’s fault.

      Also the point you make about Palmer wanting to make up for losses in hardware with software sales makes no sense, if that where the case he would open it up to everybody and make even more, maybe have an exclusivity period on the rift, but if he plans to make the bulk of the money off of software sales anyways, then he would be better off to open up the Oculus store.

  4. I don’t understand why people think there are ANY barriers created by this.
    These games wouldn’t exist without Oculus funding them, and it would take a little extra effort to add Vive support right now.
    None of these games are required to stay exclusives!! So there is no barrier for anyone. They’re simply being exclusively sold through the Oculus Store.. But this means that those games can also choose to support Vive, if their developer wants. Many of these games will become multi-platform down the line.
    Part of me wishes Oculus would have never used the word “exclusive”.. Because it really doesn’t apply, in the way that the anti-Oculus people online seem to think it does. It’s not an exclusive to the Rift, that will never be on anything else… It’s just exclusively sold on their store, and only has Rift support built-in at first.
    I think it’s literally IMPOSSIBLE to expect anything else. These games COULD NOT be made multi-platform at launch, without extra work. People are being foolish. If Oculus hadn’t used the word “exclusive” to describe it, they never would have freaked out over the Oculus Store situation, to begin with.

  5. Honestly, I would rather the exclusive content not exist then set a precedent that exclusive are sought after and good for the PC/VR industry.

  6. I dislike when Media outlets express firm personal opinions through their articles. Your job is one to communicate and inform the public, the general masses and the community about ongoing events within this sphere.

    Taking a clear and hardline stance on one side of the debate or another only leaves you exposed to being found wrong in the future. How then will readers have a trust in you abd faith in your publication to communicate information freely and without bias?

    short-sighted.

    1. This wasn’t a news piece. Let’s get that right first. Writers and journalists have leave to express opinions about the way things are, that’s why all sites have opinion pieces and features. Having thoughts on how the industry is shaping up is not bias. What if we’re doing a review? We’re showing personal thoughts through an article there. Is liking or disliking the game ‘showing bias’? You’re essentially saying here, person not brave enough to put their details down, “you’re not paid to think!”

      We’re all allowed to think and whilst we report the news we are also allowed to think on what the news means – and so should you.

      1. I understand that. But it’s a divisive issue. You made a choice to publish an article falling firmly on one side of the debate against the other. I see no discussion of the pro’s against the con’s here, no effort at all to balance the argument.

        “Vitriolic”, “Ignorant” and “Immature” was the only mention of the counter-point.

        I accept that this is a private publication and you have the freedom and right to publish anything you want, but when you court public attention and broadcast to a wide number of readers, you also have a responsibility to ensure opinons are given in a measured way.

        If general opinion swings against this article and willfully rejects exclusivity attempts, will you be defending it to the last or printing retractions instead?

        1. No doubt the topic will come up again in the future and any writer then writing on it will then give their opinion on the state of things with both the benefit of hindsight and the knowledge of what is transpiring at that exact time. Opinions aren’t futureproof. As for writing a retraction ‘If general opinion swing against the article’ why would the writer have to write a retraction for their own personal opinion? You’re welcome to disagree and that’s your own opinion. However, if I like a film and I come out and say such and people disagree I then don’t have to apologise for thinking the way I do.

          It’s an opinion piece. Most every site does them. We’re sorry if it doesn’t tally with your personal opinion but no writer will make apologies for having thoughts about a topic.

          As for the balance I’ll let the author respond on that one.

          1. As Kevin reasons, yes, this is an opinion piece. I can understand the frustrations of the anti-exclusive crowd, but they’re having their opinions voiced loudly through other communities right now while, as is usual on the web, people that are of a different mind keep quiet. Moreover, this was a direct response to the frankly disgusting comments that were being left on our interview with Gunfire Games because of their decision to take an opportunity that Oculus was offering them, an opportunity they had no reason not to take full advantage of. An argument can be made against exclusives – I noted Valve’s stance on the situation was ‘admirable’, but journalists are allowed to publish articles in against or in defence of some situations. This was the latter.

  7. “…this is still a company that needs to compete with its rivals and, frankly, needs every reason it can get to convince people to buy its box over the more advanced HTC Vive, even at $200 cheaper.”

    If you have to resort to console-like exclusives to compensate for the fact that your competitor is more advanced, you have failed on a fundamental level and you’re only doing a disservice to potential paying customers, and to general VR adoption.

  8. I don’t know if Eden or jentoft have been keeping up, but Gabe from Valve and Palmer has made it clear that this isn’t a war on exclusivity. This is a war on store fronts. Oculus and Valve both want to sell their software on their store fronts. But valve hasn’t given oculus an open sdk sand drivers to put the vive in their store. Everybody wants their 30% digital sales cut. Valve are the “saints” in this war. Both of these companies are just like any other company. Buying a vive to set some standard about openness makes you just as much a sheep as the people buying for exclusivity.

    1. Oculus haven’t given Valve an SDK yet Valve are still adding support to OpenVR. The Oculus SDK can be used only with approved hardware, OpenVR can used on any hardware without permission.

  9. I don’t get why this is a hard concept for people to understand. Oculus is paying for these games. It is unreasonable to expect them to release them on all platforms. I would also note that while one could say “Vive doesn’t have a bunch of exclusives”, Vive doesn’t really have a lineup of games to speak of. Tilt Brush and Jobs Simulator? Compared to Eve: Valkyrie, Luckey’s Tale, Chronos, etc, the Vive lineup is pretty sad. HTC hasn’t put the money into development like Oculus has.

  10. Buying the Vive isn’t a vote for openness–it’s a vote for sustaining Steam’s very closed monopoly. Conversely purchasing Rift and using the Oculus Store actually promotes a healthier open market by supporting the first true competition to Steam in the PC game digital distribution space, something that has been sorely lacking and is crucially needed.

    Even if the SteamVR SDK eventually catches up to the Oculus SDK in terms of performance (right now it’s not even close), I plan to buy everything through the Oculus Store and not through Steam *on principle* for this very reason.

  11. Games that support the Oculus SDK and are exclusive to the Oculus store will not work on the Vive unless Valve/HTC allow the Vive to be supported within the Oculus SDK (Which they have no incentive to do…) I think that once people realize that the Vive won’t be supporting many of the best games available (at least within the first 6 months of launch), they’ll wish they got the Rift instead.

    If you want to get the headset that supports the most games on release, you’ll want to go with the RIft, as it will support all of the Rift games on the Oculus store, as well as the VR games games that will be released on Steam. You will need to wait for touch (or some equivalent) to be released to play the room scale games, but most of those aren’t going to be released until around the time Touch is out anyways.

    1. I agree that the Rift game lineup for launch is much more robust than for the Vive. But ultimately I don’t think people will be convinced to choose the less technologically robust Rift over the Vive* just because of the titles available at launch. That would be like buying a 2×4 pickup truck over a 4×4 model just because it gets more radio stations at first. I guess I’m saying that my bet is for the Vive to prevail in the long run when some really AAA games come to market for it.

      *This is a whole different can of worms for another discussion 🙂

  12. This seems like needless fragmentation of a market that is going to be small for quite a while yet. PC VR Titles should be able to run on both and be ported to PSVR as well.

  13. The things some of you are saying are so stupid it actually hurts my brain. I don’t think you understand that Oculus is paying for these games themselves. they’re not paying for them to be exclusive: they’re literally saying, “Hey, here’s money. I’d like you to make a game for me.”

    For those of you who think this is somehow like a “shady marketing tactic” you’re just idiots who shouldn’t have opinions on this in the first place.

  14. From a guy who has been using VR since the Oculus DK1 arrived in August 2013 and long before Facebook’s acquisition, I can say I’ve tried nearly every available experience out there for DK1 and DK2. There is currently a limited amount of VR content. The amount of VR content that is ready to work on CV1 and Vive at launch is even more limited.

    My heart sank when I heard of the Facebook acquisition, mostly because of the perceived meddling that would surely take place (thinking Facebook ads in our VR spaces).

    In reality, Oculus had something, and if it wasn’t FB, it would have been Amazon, or Samsung, or Google who would have done the same. The massive infusion of money allowed Oculus to get several really high end VR games out there, and for that we will all be very thankful when we are ready to try other things with our awesome new VR battlestations.

    The acquisition allowed far better technology and manufacturing for the product, and more content from developers.

  15. For crying out loud – I can’t believe how many times I’ve seen the same discussion plagued by the same uninformed misconception. Rift Exclusive doesn’t mean exclusive to the product Oculus Rift.
    It means exclusive to the Oculus Store!

    A store that Vive-users could/can access if HTC/Valve implement support for it. Why are people so freaking salty over the Oculus Store?
    Would you be as salty if the Vive had an online store tied to it……oh, wait.

  16. Excellent article. VR will succeed DESPITE the loud minority who have no clue about business, and also don’t appreciate all that Oculus has done.

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