The Oculus Connect 5 (OC5) keynote, to lead off Facebook’s Oculus ecosystem virtual reality conference, has been expected to highlight the accomplishments and near-future of their market-priced all-in-one Oculus Go. Undoubtedly what will snag the attention of attendees even more is more hard info about upcoming hardware. So, with the keynote now in the books, what are the highlights gamers and VR enthusiasts have to look forward to?
After Facebook (and owner of Oculus) CEO Mark Zuckerberg lead off the keynote by ruefully admitting that, while one billion VR users is the goal, the company has so far seen about 1% of the objective reached. To reach that, Zuckerberg continued, would require three things: offering standalone hardware, hand presence and six degrees of freedom (6DoF). At that point, Zuckerberg announced the Oculus Quest VR headset, which was formerly Project Santa Cruz.
The Oculus Quest hardware is described as the company’s “First All-in-One VR Gaming System”. Priced at $399 and with a spring rollout in 2019 scheduled, the Quest offers 6DoF, Toch controllers, self-contained computing and therefore wireless, with no requirement for additional sensors for device or user positioning.
A few of the specs that have been offered for the Quest are that it’s going to include 64GB in storage, but it’s not clear how much will be for compute operation versus storage. Also a spec to wait for is the battery life, but according to a Gizmodo story today, “Oculus told Gizmodo the Quest will have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. That’s more powerful than the 821 found in the Go and the same processor found in Lenovo and Google’s Daydream headset, as well as smartphones like the Samsung S8. ” Optically, the Quest will feature adjustable 1600×1440 lenses per eye, which should put the Quest on par, in terms of resolution, with the HTC Vive Pro and Focus.
On the software side, over 50 titles will be available at launch. Only a few were called out, though, including ports of better-known VR game properties, such as Robo Recall, the Climb, and Moss.
The Oculus Go launched at Facebook’s 2018 F8 conference earlier this year, positioned as an accessibly priced, high-quality experience for VR. It was announced during the OC5 keynote that 80% of Oculus Go owners are new to the ecosystem, suggesting attention from new audiences, albeit with no specifics how large that audience itself might be.
Among the announcements focused on the Go is new ways to watch Go content and new content to watch. Namely, YouTube VR is coming to the Go, which basically means Vr-ready content will be viewable as intended on the Go. Oculus is also scheduling a slate of events for the autumn, including NBA games, for the Oculus Venues app.
Of special interest to gamers is likely to be the TV-casting feature, which allows the content watched in a headset to be streamed to a smartphone or a television. Imagine being able to play an intense game of Lone Echo arena and be able to show off the action to friends — instead of going it alone in virtual reality and being awkward around your friends.
Lastly, the granddaddy of all the Oculus, Oculuses (or is that Oculi?), the Rift, was also gifted plenty of announcements at the OC5 keynote too. the Rift will see a potent bump on the software side with a update top Core 2.0, which will enable more developer tools, avatars and connectivity for greater social engagement in, and through, VR. Furthermore, the Rift Platform, which features hybrid apps for switchable 2D to VR experiences, should give developers, especially in productivity and enterprise spaces new tools to work with.
The Rift will also see Lone Echo II, Echo Combat, Ready at Dawn, Vox Machinae, and Space Bullet, for the autumn and toward the all-important holiday sales season.
Keep an eye out for more news from OC5, as Events for Gamer explores the latest from Facebook and Oculus in virtual reality!