The consumer version of the Oculus Rift has been announced, leading the coming wave of E3 2015 announcements, reveals, and press conferences. I’m very bulling on the future potential of VR, so I was excited to see how Oculus would finally reveal the final consumer product.
The start of the conference was disappointing: rather than describing the potential of this device and the amazing experiences that can be created with VR, Brand Iribe, their CEO, basically just showed the physical product and then described the physical details of it.
There has been a lot of talk about both audio and control, and what would ship by with the Oculus when it is released. No real time was spent talking about audio, and the control scheme is… an XBOX One controller that will work automatically with Windows 10. Phil Spencer (head of XBOX at Microsoft) came on stage to talk about this, and talked briefly about how this will work with Windows 10, and showed a video of a game being played within a virtual theater – an odd choice to demo VR.
Things got better when the games started rolling out, specially with Eve Valkyrie, an offshoot of Eve Online that’s a great fit for VR. The gameplay they showed has already been out though, so it wan’t really new:
The next section of the conference talked about developer tools and support, a nod to the indie game developers, and the experience of the software that runs the rift.
The end of the conference was run by Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus. This was by far the best part – he brought energy and passion, and introduced Oculus Touch – a new control method for Oculus games. It’s a bit like a controller split in two, that tracks your hands and gestures. Hand presence is a big thing in VR, and a powerful thing to experience. No word on when this would be out, or if it will ship as part of the Oculus release package.
This wasn’t a great press conference – they definitely checked some of the boxes, but it does feel that the pressure from Valve, Sony, Google, and everyone else racing into VR has forced them to move quickly. The release date is a vague “Q1”, no pricing was announced, and nothing more about the PC or hardware required to run the VR experiences.
Ultimately, the games will be the thing that makes or breaks this, and I’m still excited for the future of Oculus and VR.
We’ve worked with VR and Oculus, and created a virtual ride experience for Polaris / Victory Motorcycles, and you check out a long form look at the details of the project.
Post E3 Update (June 25, 2015): It sounds like the hands-on demos that Oculus presented were very impressive, and that work on the Oculus Touch has paid off. Beyond Oculus VR, Sony had a great show with Morpheus, and the Microsoft AR Hololens product demo showed well also.