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Oculus Quest will "end up competing with the Nintendo Switch as a device"

CTO John Carmack says the hardware is not powerful enough to compete with Xbox One or PS4

Oculus VR CTO John Carmack has pointed to the Nintendo Switch as the main competition for the new Oculus Quest wireless headset.

Oculus Quest was announced at the Oculus Connect conference this week, and it promises to fill up the gap between Oculus Go and Oculus Rift in terms of price and technology.

In his keynote address, Carmack elaborated on the technical side of the new device, which is wireless and offers "six degrees of freedom" tracking. However, in terms of "raw processing power" it is more in line with the last generation of consoles than the high-end PCs required to run Oculus Rift.

"Quest is in the neighbourhood of the power of a previous gen [console], like Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, just in terms of CPU and GPU and what you can expect to do on it," Carmack said.

Most games of that generation, he said, rendered graphics at 1280 x 720 at 30fps. With VR, the same image would be rendered at 1280 x 1280, twice, and at 72fps. That is, Carmack pointed out, 8.5 times as many pixels as an Xbox 360 game.

"It is not possible to take a game that was done at a high quality level - like a AAA title - for that generation and expect it to look like that in VR," he added. "It's too many more pixels to wind up rendering."

In terms of market position, then, Quest will be sold as a secondary, mobile device for gamers who already own a current generation console.

"Realistically, we're going to end up competing with the Nintendo Switch as a device," Carmack said. "I don't think there's going to be that many people who say, 'I'm not going to buy a PS4, I'm going to buy a Quest instead.'

"I do stand by my statement that the core magic of any Rift experience can be bought to this, but you can't ignore the difference in processing power... There's almost a factor of 100 difference in the total power [between a high-end PC and a Quest]."

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Matthew Handrahan


Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.