The virtual reality-centric conference Oculus Connect 4 made an impact from the start, beginning when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg strode on to the stage. Announcements were made in hardware, software, partnerships and more — including for game developers and consumers — but the first announcement set the tone on broadening appeal:
Between “powered by Oculus” Gear VR Samsung for mobile and the full-powered, PC-dependent Oculus Rift experience, Facebook determined a middle ground might be possible. The social media giant’s CEO outlined a broad objective where he stated that he wanted to see one billion consumers in VR. Immediately after making outlining that an objective, Zuckerberg announced the Oculus Go VR headset, a standalone headset powered by its own mobile computer and updated set of optics. No phone or cable will be required, and is expected to be available in early 2018 and cost $199.
Oculus Rift, as a promotional offer, dropped the cost of its flagship Rift product over the summer from $499 to $399, but at the keynote, it was announced that the price drop would be permanent. This was not the next announcement made at the keynote, but it points to an intent to surmount the so-called “trough of disillusionment”, where some see virtual reality right now.
Project Santa Cruz
The biggest update to Oculus’ upcoming wireless and cables-free standalone VR headset is the inclusion of the 6DoF (six degrees of freedom) controllers, tracked by four sensors built into the headset itself (as opposed to externally positioned). Developers will see Santa Cruz dev kits first in 2018
On the VR social and content side, Venues will be a new experience launching in 2018 that lets users virtually watch music concerts and catch premieres of new movies and TV shows with thousands of people. No specific content was announced at the keynote, but it’s worth hoping that eSports tournaments and streaming might be part of the content line-up in Venues.
Oculus VR Games
Oculus’ VP of Content, Jason Rubin, who had publicly stated that 2017 would be the “year of content”, built upon that foundation with several new high-impact announcements in gaming content.
Marvel Powers United VR: A trailer for the Marvel comic book Nordic hero, Thor, was shown. Within the arena combat-style game, he joins a pantheon of more than twenty heroes. The game is slated for a 2018 launch.
Ready at Dawn and Insomniac Games, developers who have been working to build names for themselves in VR games (notably competitive/eSports style), with The Unspoken for the former and Lone Echo and Echo Arena for the latter. Ready at Dawn is creating a new zero-G game and Insomniac is adding a new single-player campaign mode to its magic duel-themed game.
To close the game content portion of the keynote, a teaser video of AAA game developer Respawn Entertainment working on a VR game for the Oculus platform for 2019 was shown. Bringing in a name-brand developer, responsible for pre-2010 versions of Call of Duty and the Titanfall franchise, is a coup for Rubin, who has professed an interest in attracting high-profile developers to Oculus.
OC4 By the Numbers:
Last but not least, Oculus Connect 4, as noted by Mark Zuckerberg, was the largest of their events so far, with over 2,900 attendees, 44 talks and 100 speakers
For all the announcements, including game development-related and otherwise, from the wide-reaching Oculus Connect 4 keynote, check out this official Oculus blog post for additional info.