There was no shortage of noteworthy announcements at an Oculus Connect conference without new hardware. The beginning of the week was marked by Facebook's acquisition of Central Labs to work on neural interfaces for the Oculus platform. This means that one day you may be able to navigate VR only with the power of your mind.
If that's too sci-fi for you, we've also received word that Oculus will be making changes in the near future: the Oculus Quest hand tracking feature and the ability to play Rift VR games on the Quest headset with a new cable peripheral, the Oculus link.
However, it's hard to talk about VR or games at home without mentioning Sony and Microsoft, both of which are about to release the latest iterations of their home consoles. We expect Microsoft to release the next Xbox by the end of 2020 Sony will do the same for the next PlayStation.
Both the Xbox Scarlett and the PS5 are likely to be priced like the Oculus Quest for $ 399, 399, 732, and there are many households who have to choose between the familiar strengths of a traditional console experience and the growing potential of VR headsets , We asked some of Facebook's top executives working in VR and AR what they think about the upcoming competition.
Mike Boz Bosworth is Facebook's vice president of AR / VR and has been with the firm for 14 years, having started as one of the first engineers. When asked if next-generation gaming consoles pose a threat, he insists the experience is too different to compare:
"One of the great things about working in virtual reality is that we work on something that is truly unique, and what we build is hard to come by in other ways."
Bosworth cites both the unconnected VR game of the Oculus Rift with six degrees of freedom in the virtual world as well as the more powerful experiences available with the PC-bound Oculus Rift. This differs significantly from what others do, not just in terms of what we want to support, but also in terms of how people use the product. "
This is confirmed by Mike Verdu, the head of VR / AR content on Facebook, who emphasizes the "immersive VR experience" as something different from what traditional consoles offer. Verdu adds that developers are only now "discovering what those experiences can be," citing "new types of games, new types of mechanics, and all learning how to make a beautiful full-length game."
One of the features that makes VR stand out is the choice of possible inputs, controllers, and processors that come with a headset, and how different the experience is between portable models like the Oculus Go or the PC-bound Rift S – so yes, You can not compare to directly with the Xbox or PlayStation as platforms.
But it is competition. There are more devices for our time than ever before, and VR headsets are closer to home consoles than anything else – given the spatial and visual limitations of VR headsets, even an unconnected model like the Quest is not as portable as the Quest a Switch Lite or a mobile phone. It's much harder to get out of the way of an Oculus headset on the way to work or walk down the street with the headset you're using.
Since Oculus feels comfortable with his Rift S and Quest headsets in the price of $ 399/399 GBP / 732 AUD – and the older Rift does not feel much cheaper – the question arises in which ecosystem you should look for the next hardware release. Cycle prefer to shop. The question is not only Rift S vs Quest or PS5 vs Xbox Two. Consumers will increasingly have the choice between established home game consoles or the possibilities of a new medium in VR.
Change is coming
Since launching the quest in May, Facebook has been the latest model of the first generation of its VR hardware. While Facebook is still improving the functionality of this model, it is clear that the next chapter has not yet been written. There are many potential features that include hand-tracking, haptic feedback, or even neural interfaces that pave the way for the next generation of products.
Speaking about the amount that could change, Bosworth says "we're working on headsets with better looks, better computing, better displays … Sure, there are things that are fundamental and that can continue to improve." He adds that Oculus is this. I'm still wondering if the headsets can "become more comfortable or balance the weight more effectively," and even cite the work on "straps suitable for people with more hairstyles." Not quite conscious control in VR, but a sign of the small iterative changes that come in a still young medium.
The future for Xbox and PlayStation is much clearer: players know roughly what to expect, even as the next-generation consoles expand the scope of games they can perform. Increasing resolutions, even on TVs, will bring more 4K games – and even 8K games – to gamers, even as sharper VR displays with higher frame rates offset headache and motion sickness issues.
We know that the next generation of PSVR will also be available for the PS5, which means that the competitive feeling is likely to increase. If Sony is able to iterate on its own VR hardware in the same way as Oculus, you may see a PlayStation console that can be successful on all fronts.
According to Jason Rubin, VP of Special Gaming Initiatives of Facebook, VR is still "maybe centuries – but certainly decades and decades – away from the end of what it's trying to do. "Although there are VR games and experiences that are worth trying out now, Oculus still competes with console manufacturers who know their medium well. I get.
The price written on this page is true as the time it is written. It may change at any moment.