Last year, Oculus VR — the tech firm behind the potentially game-changing Oculus Rift — was bought by Facebook in a turn of events that shocked many in the industry. It wasn’t long before concerns about what the move would herald for the future of virtual reality for video games, and comments made last week by Oculus VP for products Nate Mitchell won’t do much to assuage any fears.
Speaking with the LA Times at CES last week, Mitchell reiterated that the team at Oculus are ‘big gamers’, and that they started the company with the goal of bringing VR to the video game industry clear in their minds. However, he went on to admit that ‘it may well end up being that VR is more about film than games.’
Back in the early days of Oculus, part of the appeal that led the company to one of the most successful gaming Kickstarter campaigns ever was the fact that it seemed like a passion project. Company founder Palmer Luckey came across as a passionate, energetic fan of the medium of video games in press materials for the campaign, far from the norm of musty tech company press representatives.
That’s something that seemed destined to fall by the wayside as Facebook took over ownership of Oculus VR. Now, with the admission that virtual reality in video games — the very thing that the company set out to do — might be dropped in favor of movie-based VR, it could well be the case that the golden boy of video game VR is about to leave the party.
Of course, it’s true that interactivity is a huge point of contention with VR; pressing buttons on a joypad can really break the immersion that hardware like the Oculus Rift offers when what you see doesn’t match up with your physical actions. Making a compelling experience that’s a little less interactive — i.e. a movie — would be much easier to accomplish; but for many, it’s simply not the fully-fledged VR experience that was offered up by the Oculus Kickstarter back in 2012.
Thankfully, there are other parties interested in bringing VR to video games; Sony’s long-rumored Project Morpheus remains in development, and just last month From Software became the latest studio to hint at future titles having VR capabilities. It may well be that Oculus redouble their efforts towards gaming, even if their recent comments suggest otherwise. After all, Oculus VR did acquire two tech firms recently that can potentially help make Oculus Rift more interactive.
We’ve known for some time that a real push for VR to hit the gaming mainstream isn’t far off, but we’re yet to see any solid evidence of when it’ll be here or what form it’ll take. It’s easy to see how this new technology could reinvigorate the industry as a whole — but, it could also turn out that VR is the latest case of ‘vaporware’ that never truly hits as broad an audience as it deserves to.
Source: LA Times