Even though the Electronic Entertainment Expo hasn’t begun yet, that hasn’t stopped the Facebook-owned virtual reality company Oculus from getting the train out of the station early.
The company provided an early glimpse of what it’ll be bringing to the video game event this week with a live stream earlier this morning, providing a look at the consumer edition of the upcoming headset, which is due for release in early 2016. Although a price point still wasn’t given, Oculus did provide a clearer picture on what it intends to do in terms of games and control options.
Here’s a small recap of what took place during the live stream:
A Partnership With Microsoft
Part of today’s presentation brought out Microsoft’s head of Xbox Phil Spencer, who explained that the gaming juggernaut has teamed up with Oculus to provide not only hardware, but streaming capability. The Oculus headset will come packed in with an Xbox One wireless controller and adapter, and will have compatibility with Windows 10. Furthermore, users will be able to stream Xbox One games to the device, in a theater-like setting where it appears that the user is sitting in a game room. “There is going to be a lot more to come,” said Spencer, indicating that more details could be revealed this Monday during the company’s pre-show press conference.
So what does this mean With Sony launching its own virtual reality gear, Project Morpheus, next year, Microsoft clearly wants to get on board with VR in its own way â€“ but stopping just short of making its own headset. The Oculus Rift is an ideal partner, and, in turn, provides even more gaming opportunities for the device, in spite of the fact that it’s in a theater setting instead of full-on 3D experiences.
What this could also tie in, though, is compatibility with the Xbox One. Spencer mentioned nothing about the console, but the Rift seems like an ideal device to work with the system, although the Windows 10 operating system would need to be uploaded first, it seems. We’re likely to get a bigger picture from this partnership when Microsoft unveils its showcase next week.
Bring On the Games
Oculus explained just how serious it is when it comes to providing unique game experiences on its Rift device. It’s planning to invest $10 million in independent development, opening the door to teams eager to develop for the device; and many teams have stepped forward with new projects, including Ratchet & Clank developer Insomniac Games. It’s come through with a harrowing third-person survival adventure called Edge of Nowhere, with the trailer featured below.
Other games that were featured during the showcase include CCP’s space adventure Eve Valkyrie and Gunfire Games’ adventure Chronos. These games, along with others, should be on full display at the Oculus booth at E3 next week.
So what does this mean Even though it still has yet to sign on other partners, Oculus has a healthy slate of companies on board to bring unique experiences to the Rift. These include Harmonix (the developers of the forthcoming Rock Band 4) and Square Enix (publishers of Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider games). More announcements could be made by next week, to further entice users into snagging a Rift for themselves.
A New Way To Play
Â Along with the included Xbox One controller, the Oculus Rift will also have a secondary control option that will virtually put a user’s hands into an experience. Oculus’ Palmer Luckey presented the Touch controllers today, a pair of comfortable units that wrap around the hands and enable users to pick up objects and move around with ease, using analog sticks and buttons embedded into the circular pads.
These promise to be a fulfilling experience in conjunction with the Rift, while also providing comfort, since the Touch controllers are lightweight and easy to use. There’s no word yet on cost, but it sounds like consumers would be smart to pick them up to get the ultimate involvement from the Rift.
What does this mean It indicates that Oculus is very serious about making game experiences more involving with the Rift, and the Touch controllers are an excellent way to create such a feeling, even with their somewhat gimmicky design. Lucky attendees of next week’s E3 show will be able to try it out for themselves.
A Virtual Future, Laid Out
There are still many questions revolving around the Oculus Rift, mainly with the price point. The team is staying quite mum when it comes to announcing just what consumers will be paying to get their own Rift, Touch controllers and games. However, we should know more in the next few months.
There is a good possibility that Oculus may be waiting for Sony to make its next move with the Project Morpheus. The publisher already confirmed that it’s devoting a good chunk of time to talking about the device during its own E3 press conference on Monday night, although it’s not quite known if it’ll announce a price point just yet.
With that, Oculus is gearing up to make the device more accessible, with a number of exclusive games, a partnership with Microsoft that is likely to pay off in the long run (especially if it can pull off Xbox One compatibility), and a marketing angle that’s likely to catch consumers by surprise â€“ provided, again, that the price point is just right.
We’ll know more in a few months, but one thing’s clear â€“ virtual reality is ready to come back to retail. Now it’s just a matter of how it approaches.