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VR will be in "almost every household" - Oculus

The Big Event: E3 in association with
VR will be in "almost every household" - Oculus

Fri 20 Jun 2014 2:10pm GMT / 10:10am EDT / 7:10am PDT
HardwareTechnologyPublishingE3 2014

CEO Iribe sees VR following similar trajectory to smartphone adoption, says tech needs more than just ports to play before consumer debut

There's no stopping VR now. That's according to Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe, who spoke with GamesIndustry International at last week's E3. The technical and cultural hurdles are coming down, and the main challenge left standing between the Oculus Rift headset and a successful launch is a simple paucity of great experiences to play on the hardware.

"We're still building out the platform, we're still building out the core technology, that core hardware, and we also are building out the ecosystem and the content. So we're putting together this amazing dream team of engineers to focus on our side but the community also needs time to build out and teams need to come together to build great content and great experiences. And we need to get them the developer kits and equip them with the hardware that allows them to then go and build these great experiences. And once there's enough really polished, made-for-VR--not ports, but made-for-VR--experiences, then we'll be ready to go to the consumer market."

Iribe said that's going to happen soon, with Oculus ramping up investment in its own original titles. The company was using E3 to show off its original mascot platformer Lucky's Tale, the space dogfighting game EVE: Valkyrie, and Oculus-compatible versions of the bullet-dodging first-person shooter Superhot and Sega's survival horror Alien: Isolation, based on the classic sci-fi franchise.

"Once there's enough really polished, made-for-VR--not ports, but made-for-VR--experiences, then we'll be ready to go to the consumer market."

Once the early adopters have a few games and retail hardware in their hands, Iribe sees VR taking off in the mainstream in short order. While he acknowledged that VR presents a marketing challenge (its value can't really be communicated by simply watching other people enjoy it), he expects that much like the original PCs, word-of-mouth and trying out a friend's unit will help drive quick adoption. People will see VR as a technology worth investing in once they experience what he calls a "true sense of presence" in a virtual world.

"We haven't gotten it with our Oculus developer kits," Iribe said. "You can't get it with what Morpheus is showing now which is also a developer kit. But you will get it with the consumer quality product. When people get that, I think it's going to attract a huge amount of developers to make content very quickly. And then it'll be ready."

Iribe said Oculus is already working with hardware superior to its latest dev kit in a number of ways, most notably addressing what was previously thought to be a potentially unsolvable problem in motion sickness.

"In the last year we've made this incredible leap of progress on the core technology and understanding what causes disorientation, what we call simulator sickness, in VR," Iribe said. "I'm really super happy to say that I no longer think it's a big elephant in the room and a big issue. There's going to be other big issues that we'll face but it's no longer going to be simulator sickness."

Iribe said he is perhaps the most simulator sickness susceptible person at Oculus (with the possible exception of Michael Abrash), but has had no problems with an internal prototype the company has based on the work of former Valve employees like Abrash. Using "The Valve Room" setup, Iribe said he's never experienced motion sickness, and said only a handful of some 400 people he's demoed the technology to have had any such issues.

"You cannot hold back VR. You can't hold back cellphones. You can't hold back the PC. It's going to happen. It's either Oculus or it is somebody else."

"So I would never have expected that. I was hoping we would get to 70 percent, 80 percent, but to get to something like 97, 98, 99 percent of people being comfortable, including myself - for 45 minutes I spent in there - gives a lot of hope that it is actually a largely addressable issue."

Even if the simulator sickness issue is addressed, a different kind of optics could still be an issue for Oculus. Take-Two's Strauss Zelnick called the technology "anti-social" while Nintendo of America's Scott Moffitt called it "solitary," both while praising VR as an interesting technology. Although video game violence appears to be perennially a single tragedy away from the headlines, Iribe brushed aside concerns about how parents would view the idea of video games they can't monitor over their child's shoulder.

"I'm not worried about it, " Iribe said. "We'll put all kinds of parental management and security and privacy features in the system. We're very aware of that and we're going to try to build a platform that really caters to parents...This is a technology, it's one of those things where some people [say,] 'But yeah, aren't you worried that X, Y and Z could hold this back?' You cannot hold back VR. You can't hold back cellphones. You can't hold back the PC. It's going to happen. It's either Oculus or it is somebody else.

"There's no holding this back. This is going to take off like wildfire and it is going to be, within some number of years, almost every household out there will be enjoying VR. Everybody will have experienced VR just like they have experienced the computer or the mobile smartphones. It's going to be that powerful that fast and there'll be sensational topics that show up just like there are around computers or around console gaming or around the mobile phone. I mean, hey, we all walk around in a mobile phone zombie world, and we all look like we're staring at these phones all the time. Is Apple or Google concerned about us staring at our phones the whole time?"

21 Comments

Steve Wetz Reviewer/Assistant Editor, Gamer's Glance

213 529 2.5
Popular Comment
Another few weeks gone by, another bullish, optimistic statement from an Oculus VR executive. I feel like there is a selection wheel with all the top names at Oculus on it, and when it's time for a media statement, they spin the wheel, tell the executive to think happy thoughts, and then push him in front of a podium.

We get it, you guys think VR is AWESOME. We assumed that as you work at a VR company. Please just work on the product and stop telling us how it is going to change our lives.

Posted:5 months ago

#1

Matthew Hardy Studying Multimedia/Game Design, ITT Technical Institute

42 105 2.5
Steve, your attitude sucks.

Posted:5 months ago

#2
Part of me has to agree with Steve.

E3 passed and no statement on release of CV1 - no minimum spec's requirements to run DK2 - no official line on future business. But there seems lots of time for puff pieces like this?

If it is true and the rumored CV launch is Christmas 2015 - then we will have to sit through a lot more of this posturing. I am not sure the consumer base will accept that, before wanting to kick the podium away!

Posted:5 months ago

#3

Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design

83 223 2.7
ROFL, I have to agree with Steve as well. I love VR, and I am super excited for it. But it really does seem like they must have some spin wheel for what to say next for every few weeks.

A few weeks from now they will probably say something like "VR will replace almost every theater" or "VR will be the main platform for video games in a few years." Ya .. something like that lol.

Posted:5 months ago

#4

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,194 1,170 0.5
Popular Comment
Well, when you roll out the trick before it's done, interest wanes among those who've yet to try it out (but can't because they aren't in the media or want to invest in a dev kit) and are getting weary of waiting and hearing how cool it all is year after year.

Granted, the time it's taking is great for developers who can (and need to) iron out the kinks VR has. But I'd bet you a dime the average consumer doesn't care about VR and won't until they can walk into a store and try out the experience for themselves. People working on games and those dev kit early adopters leaped on this sight unseen and can trumpet it as innovative as they crack into it and see what it can and can't do. But the normal non-tech centric person who's hearing this is what they NEED are going to want to at least take it for a test drive before they drop a dime on it.

At least that's what nearly everyone I've been asking about their interest is saying...

Posted:5 months ago

#5

Justin Biddle Software Developer

163 492 3.0
They really had better deliver now. Because they've set themselves on a pedestal so high it's going to really hurt if they fall.

Posted:4 months ago

#6

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,157 1,219 1.1
"I'm not worried about it, " Iribe said. "We'll put all kinds of parental management and security and privacy features in the system. We're very aware of that and we're going to try to build a platform that really caters to parents.
Either this is just some BS statement that was copy and pasted from a PR person, or we have not been told a core thing about the Oculus Rift. From where I am standing, it is just a monitor of sorts. Why would a monitor have security, parental management and privacy? You just connect it to your PC, done, pictures happen and if you want to patrol them, you need control of the operating system feeding the pictures to the HDMI port.

As far as getting into every household, much depends not on gaming but on delivering video experiences. Why ride a virtual rollercoaster when there are cameras to be built and video formats to be designed allowing people to ride a real rollercoaster, or F! car, or space shuttle, or, or, or

Posted:4 months ago

#7

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,198 1,011 0.8
Maybe, but the question is when? I don't expect it will be any time soon.

Posted:4 months ago

#8

Gary LaRochelle Digital Artist/Game Designer, Flea Ranch Games

72 65 0.9
Didn't they say the same thing about 3D televisions?

Also, price point. What the units sell for will be a big factor in its popularity.

Posted:4 months ago

#9

Chris Payne Associate Lead Programmer, Traveller's Tales

55 176 3.2
Klaus - they're building their own platform, as noted in one of the other many Oculus-related articles on here :)
So they may create a walled garden through which they can ensure that sub-par VR experiences are kept out of consumers hands. They can build parental controls and so on into that. Of course, building a walled garden will attract controversy too, but only amongst devs, not consumers...

Posted:4 months ago

#10

Jim Burns Research Asisstant

48 85 1.8
VR is not the future.

Posted:4 months ago

#11

Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design

83 223 2.7
@Gary Larochelle

I don't know why so many people like to mention 3D televisions all the time, when it has really nothing to do with VR. People seem to think that since you have to wear glasses / goggles, then it must be similar. However, it really isn't -.-.

@Jim Burns

Oh really? Then what is? I personally could have sworn VR was essentially where gaming was headed since it began. I mean you can't get anymore immersed then ... well being in the game. If VR isn't the future, then the future sucks lol.

Posted:4 months ago

#12

Matthew Hardy Studying Multimedia/Game Design, ITT Technical Institute

42 105 2.5
Unless you've tried the Crystal Cove set personally, your opinions are meaningless and worthless. It only took a 10 minute long demo for me to see VR is without question the future of video games. All the hype surrounding it is not an exaggeration - in fact, I think they're being humble.

Posted:4 months ago

#13

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,194 1,170 0.5
The thing is, Matthew... as someone who's worked in retail electronics in the past, I can say that the attention span of the average consumer is a LOT less than ten minutes in some cases. If these folks can't see how to set up something and get playing in under five minutes out of the box, a good chunk of the lazier ones will see it as too much effort no matter what the payoff.

Opinions may be meaningless and worthless, but sadly, we're in the age where all VR (or any new tech) needs is some people who finally see it and think it's too much trouble to buy into because THEY can't plug and play a device in under a set amount of time (and yeah, that too lazy thing comes up again), but they CAN sure write up some ignorant social media or blog posts that don't help the cause any.

A proper roll-out needs to scoop up as many skeptics with soapboxes as possible and show them the best there is to offer. No crap shovelware, no half-done "Oh, this demo might have issues, so don't write about the odd stuff you see, please!" stuff. Just experiences that let even the most negative person walk away impressed. Finally, the one other thing VR doesn't need is the silly "ANY publicity is good publicity!" mantra trotted out, as it will clearly backfire because people who want it to fail will see that negativity as a reason to stay away (and tell others to do the same).

Posted:4 months ago

#14

Matthew Hardy Studying Multimedia/Game Design, ITT Technical Institute

42 105 2.5
Greg, I always enjoy reading your comments. I didn't mean that educated opinions are worthless or any opinion they have is, only that negative opinions on a product they have yet to try are. I love reading GII because most of us here are in the biz and we know our shit.

As far as troubles with operating Occulus, it took me less than 5 seconds to get it on and was instantly ingame. Hooking it up may be a problem for some today but I would assume the retail device will be plug and play.

Once consumers see for themselves what Occulus can do, they like I, will be blown away. VR is not anything like 3D TV. VR is all encompassing. You don't just watch, you become a part of it.

Posted:4 months ago

#15

David Spender Lead Programmer

129 54 0.4
It seems to me that the 'elephant in the room' they mention isn't necessarily motion sickness but the fact that you have this crazy giant plastic weight bolted to your face. VR tech is going to have to come a long way before it will be as pervasive as they suggest. VR in and of itself is a great concept which could be embraced by many but so could free energy or a working food replicator. A holodeck wouldn't go amiss in my house but not if there's wires and a clunky headset to go with it. This reminds me of early attempts at 3D adoption in the 80's (Sega Master System anyone - man those glasses pinched behind the ears!) It took 25 years to get that right - with the 3DS.

Posted:4 months ago

#16

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,194 1,170 0.5
The one "good" thing I see about Facebook being involved with Oculus that's good for the future (in one way) is they'll probably make SURE the experience is easy to use and hopefully inexpensive (through subsidizing? Having users sign rights away? Who knows?).

They do need to figure out how to make it successful, easy to use within a minute or two and yep, by default let people have privacy if they want it (and not as an option one needs to find buried in a few menu screens). I have the feeling a backlash will slap a few people here and there by surprise if you have a lot of people who DO want VR, but don't want what they watch or play known to the world or sold to advertisers left and right. Facebook has of late been pretty annoying on the tossing ads at users by the page and I don't see that stopping with VR.

Oh, and I wasn't knocking you at all with the part about what you said about opinions. I was just thinking of other spots on the internet where opinions FIRST and ONLY seem to rule any conversation. Heck, even if people here or elsewhere working on VR pop in to tell those folks the real deal,they'll get buried under idiot soapboxers looking for an unfair fight. I'd hate to be someone working for years on something tho has to face those folks with a product you know does what it says and have to deal with the usual "well, my friend says..." nonsense that's too common these days.

VR (and people working on games for it) will need a thick skin to deal with that crowd who are dying to see ANY flaw in it and pick it apart until it collapses. I think at this point and until a commercial unit ships, people who want to look for problems and find them in articles about the tech will be more than pleased to see it's no "perfect" yet (even though nothing truly ever is)...

Posted:4 months ago

#17

David Serrano Freelancer

300 272 0.9
I agree that VR will probably become the next big thing. But I seriously doubt the tech will significantly grow any segment of the games market. Or that the games industry will be responsible for creating a huge mass market demand for the headsets. Because the reality is, the potential non-game related applications of the tech already massively outnumber the potential game related applications.

So I suspect in the long term, VR will probably have a greater impact on the size and profitability of the game engine - development tech market than on the size and profitability of the games market.

Posted:4 months ago

#18
"I'd hate to be someone working for years on something tho has to face those folks with a product you know does what it says and have to deal with ... VR (and people working on games for it) will need a thick skin.."

Greg. You have no idea how right you are!

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Julian Williams on 24th June 2014 11:19pm

Posted:4 months ago

#19

Andreia Quinta Creative & People Photographer, Studio52 London

228 631 2.8
Greg's comment hits the nail right on, however with FB on the wheel I wouldn't worry to much about accessibility and whatnot. What I find interesting is how David Spender's comment was overlooked - Yes now I do believe VR might just be the future for the common mortal regarding media and social interactions, possibly games, albeit I don't think it to be in the next 5-10 years future, at least not in the widespread "wildfire" manner they seem to think it will.

VR right now is following the footsteps of when mobile phones started to become available in the 80's, taking 30 years to evolve into Galaxy Notes and iPhones. It's great that this tech finally seems to be happening past a 'fad' phase, but we're not quite there yet.

Posted:4 months ago

#20

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,194 1,170 0.5
@Julian: Oh, I have a tiny idea and I kind of hate being right on that front. I've been admittedly hot and cold about the tech myself, but have just decided to sit it out until a consumer model is out and I can check out different experiences as everyone else will see them. I do love demos (says the guy with hundreds of demo discs), but with this new stage of VR, everything's a work in progress until it's ready to ship as developers tweak everything to make sure it's running as it should.

Every bit of new tech is subject to the unfortunate fact that no matter how eagerly anticipated, there are more potential non-consumers with opinions good, bad and otherwise who will use their time to bash away without anyone telling them they're wrong or willingly under-informed just so they stay safe on their soapboxes. The loudest and most negative out there seem to be who people listen to because more of these commentators who know less about the tech seem to get themselves the most attention the more outrageous their anti-VR antics are.

With this latest attempt getting revealed so early, there's too much time for the army of naysayers to gather weapons and ammo and start in on anyone who makes even the least outlandish of claims about the tech being an advancement. As I noted elsewhere, the non-gaming applications will most likely be where the money lies. Gamers may have other distractions to keep them busy some years down the road and many may consider VR an option more than a necessity if something happens in that space that's actually innovative and interesting.

Of course, Google's stunt yesterday with those cardboard VR goggles seems to be getting some folks on other boards thinking VR can be done on the cheap and NOW (which is a bit of a backfiring of what they intended plus the usual Internet acting as it does)...

Posted:4 months ago

#21

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