This morning, Oculus held a press conference in San Francisco, broadcast over the Internet. During this two-hour event, the company made several important announcements and outlined its vision for virtual reality both this year and in the future.

If you’ve been following VR for as long as I have, this was an important moment. I walked into the presentation wondering how Oculus would fare against its main competitor, Valve and the HTC Vive. Unfortunately, I left the presentation with more questions than I started.

Here’s what Oculus revealed:


The headset itself is similar in design to the Crescent Bay prototype I tried at CES. the beginning of this year. However, Oculus has spent some time refining the industrial design to make it more comfortable and easier to use. The device was noticeably light in the hands of CEO Brendan Iribe, and confirmed that the new straps don’t «tighten» your face, eliminating the distinct red marks of long-term Rift wear. Structurally, the outer casing of the Rift is made of fabric, presumably to reduce heat generation and weight.

Iribe also confirmed that the «face interface» of the foam will be removable. This is important, especially if you are planning to show the Rift to your friends. With DK2, hygiene issues quickly became serious. We also learned that the Rift won’t ship with an adjustable focus slider for visually impaired users (like GearVR does). Instead, the device’s ergonomics have been designed to work better when wearing glasses. Plus, for those with unusually wide-set or narrow-set eyes, a small switch will allow them to adjust the distance between the lenses to suit their heads. The headset will also be wired. though it’s not clear what the tracking range/cord length will be.

Finally, the Rift also comes with a security camera like the DK2 with an adjustable mount. It looks like it’s meant to be placed on a table and then forgotten about. Iribe confirmed that the camera won’t need an external power source and just needs a USB cable to work.


Iribe also confirmed that the Rift will come with fully specialized audio — the sounds will come from the right points in space, adding immersion. The Rift will ship with custom headphones that we’re sure are very good. However, if you want to use your own, these earphones will be removable.

VR input

The question of VR’s contribution is a serious one and was a major point of uncertainty prior to the presentation. Vive VR headset comes with two motion controllers, each equipped with multiple buttons and a Steam controller touchpad. They are tracked using Valve’s Lighthouse system, which uses two laser base stations to cover the entire room and eliminate occlusion issues. Can Oculus compete?

Well… it’s complicated. Oculus today announced that the input method that will ship with the Rift is the Xbox One controller. It’s obviously disappointing, but Oculus made a pretty convincing argument that since their developers were primarily focused on creating content for gamepads, it makes sense to provide a gamepad — a generic legacy interface.


Oculus also announced that it will be launching a second device in the first half of 2016, a VR motion controller called the «Oculus Touch», which will be available as an add-on for the Rift. This controller takes the form of two rings, one for each hand. Your fingers rest on a small nunchaku in the middle.

Each ring comes with a joystick, a grip sensor, a trigger and two buttons. Each one has an integrated tactile tactic. Most interestingly, each of them comes with an internal set of sensors that can detect hand postures (such as pointing or waving), which opens up some interesting possibilities for social virtual reality.

Oculus founder Palmer Lucky told the audience that the Oculus Touch is designed to provide “hands presence” — the feeling that your hands are physically present in a space. It’s also designed to be usable without requiring conscious thought.

Obviously, this is really cool, although there are several serious problems.

First of all: what about occlusion? It appears that Oculus is still using a single camera for positional tracking, and this raises serious questions about what happens when you move the camera to the side and try to interact with something. I certainly hope that Oculus doesn’t expect us to sit still while we use motion controllers.

Vive showed us how great it is to be able to walk freely using our hands in a virtual world. If the Rift restricts you from standing still or sitting facing one direction when using a motion controller, that’s a big disadvantage.

Secondly, why isn’t it shipping with the Rift? It seems like the Oculus Touch controllers are more than capable of emulating a gamepad, so why include them? And why create additional anguish for developers about whether or not to build games around motion control?

If only a small fraction of Oculus’ already small user base buys them initially, the lack of momentum could kill them before they get a foothold. It’s like a half-hearted commitment to a technology that is undoubtedly the future. game design. Microsoft had this issue with Kinect — input space breaking for your platform is a very bad thing.


There have also been several important announcements about the Rift software. The Rift was announced to work natively with Windows 10, meaning Oculus won’t have to rely on the hacks it’s used so far to keep the operating system from communicating with the headset. Hopefully this means less hassle and less lag in Windows 10 compared to other operating systems.

As another component of our partnership with Microsoft, you’ll also be able to stream Xbox One games to a virtual theater screen.

Secondly, Oculus announced «Oculus Home», a virtual reality interface that allows you to search, browse, buy and launch virtual games and experiences entirely from virtual reality. This is important because it reduces the number of times you have to remove and replace your headset during a typical session.

Screenshot 2015-06-11 at 1.10.05.

Finally, Oculus announced that it is investing $10 million to accelerate VR content creation, presumably by subsidizing development for indie studios.


Oculus also took the opportunity to reveal some of the launch titles that will be available for the Rift. Some highlights:

Eve Valkyrie by CCP Games is a virtual dog fighting game created in the EVE: Online Universe.

Chronos from GunFire Games, a frankly gorgeous stylized dungeon where the protagonist gets a year older with every attempt to complete the game.

Edge of Nowhere from Insomniac Games, a third-person adventure game in the style of Uncharted . The game takes the player to Antarctica in search of a lost expedition.

Damaged core from High Voltage, first-person shooter.

Luckey’s Tale by Playful, a colorful 3D style platformer Super Mario 64 .

We also learned that a number of high-profile developers are working on unannounced games, including Square Enix ( Deus Ex: Human Revolution , final fantasy ) and 4A Games ( Metro 2033 ).


This press conference is, on the whole, a really mixed bag. While it’s nice to know that Oculus is working on a motion controller, the fact that it doesn’t ship with the Rift is a huge disappointment. And while the upcoming games look promising, they don’t look like they really should be in VR. Nearly all of them are simply existing genres viewed in a new way. Sure, it’s great, but it’s not the future.

None of this looks half as cool as the scale of the room being developed for the HTC Vive. As a game developer, I’m excited about what’s possible when you have access to a room-scale controller and a motion controller. I’m not thrilled with VR which has all the drawbacks (speed and movement limits) without any new gameplay features.

Of course, it’s hard to predict the future, but right now it’s hard to see an argument why consumers should choose the Rift over the HTC Vive, except perhaps for the availability of exclusive games. I’d rather see VR not turn into a console war of exclusives and limited compatibility, but that looks more and more likely as the situation evolves.

What do you think? Will you pre-order Oculus Rift? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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