Oculus co-founder on the future of VR: “it’s kind of looking like it’s mobile”

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The future of virtual reality is mobile. Not a typical view, as far as I know, but even more surprising considering the source: Jack McCauley, one of the co-founders of Oculus Rift, a leading - and definitely not mobile - VR headset maker.

Enjoy the not-future with the best VR games on PC.

McCauley was speaking with TechRadar at CES 2017 last weekend. 

Asked about what Oculus needs to do to improve, McCauley says: “It's heavy and it’s costly. They need to reduce the cost of it, and if that means sacrificing a few features which are incremental improvements, then that’s what they need to do.”

McCauley has different priorities than many when it comes to VR systems, having previously said “high refresh rates and high render rates do not relieve motion sickness, they only add unnecessary cost to VR systems.” 

McCauley went on to discuss Samsung's recent success with its mobile VR system. "The thing that's sold, they announced their sales figures on Wednesday, and they sold 5,000,000 Gear VR [units]. That’s very impressive. That’s a smash hit in the game world, that's knocking it out of the park... So it’s kind of looking like it’s mobile. It's selling. The PC side is too expensive.” 

McCauley designed the guitars and drums for the Guitar Hero games. He was one of the original founders of Oculus VR in July 2012, and served as its chief engineer until shortly after its $2 billion acquisition by Facebook in March 2014. 

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QDP2 avatarg.poubelle avatarAnakhoresis avatarDustyGerkin avatarAever avatar
g.poubelle Avatar
22
4 Months ago

Well CV1 was hinted at ~350$, but ended up at 600$, +200$ hand controllers, + ~300$ GPU upgrade for most users...

You haven't had your first real VR experience until you've tried out first hand a game like "Dead and Buried" (and incoming "Robot Recall"), but for samsung smartphone owners the Gear VR is a 99$ upgrade, while for PC owners the CV1 is more like a 999$ upgrade !

The active body tracking PC VR experience is easily ten times more overwhelming then what even the best head tracking only gamepad experience the Gear VR can hope to provide, but unfortunately at ten times the cost, high end home VR is currently out of reach of casual users, and perhaps best left to Arcade Rooms for now (and that's where it's heading in some countries).

At best you can settle for the front facing only PS4VR home experience instead : It's only half the PC experience (in both quality and features), but it's also half the price :)

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Aever Avatar
588
4 Months ago

Hmm, first of all, I don't think it's fair to include a GPU (or any other PC upgrade) in the cost of the "VR kit". PC users naturally need to upgrade their machines, so in time a VR ready card will be present on most people's machines anyway. Secondly, Samsung's VR is cheap is you own a rather expensive phone. If you don't, if you have like an old Android phone, you need to add a lot to the cost of the Samsung alternative. Thirdly, they're not the same thing, not by a country mile.

I think PC VR and mobile VR, just like PC and mobile games, cater to different audiences. PC games, what is called "core" gamers, will pick a PC VR experience, because it's so much better. In time, the cost will get lower, the problem is having games that are worth playing. Which currently, there aren't many ... if any.

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QDP2 Avatar
678
4 Months ago

I agree that chasing a high bar for VR won't lead it to the mass market, but if VR headset producers slow down the improvements and new features and improvements, I fear people may see the headsets as reaching there pinnacle of there lifetime. Who would want to invest the small fortune into a technology that isn't showing signs of progression any time in the near future?

I may be over-analyzing this, but I still fear if Sony's PSVR doesn't grow then we may see major game developers step away from the VR market and back to traditional mediums, leading to a slow death of such a great way to play games.

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Anakhoresis Avatar
505
4 Months ago

Technically speaking, mobile VR really isn't that much cheaper. G.poubelle said that it's a $99 upgrade for samsung smartphone owners... IF you own a Galaxy S7. I have a Galaxy S5 and if I wanted Gear VR then I would be looking at a $700ish investment! True you can do more varied things with the smartphone than buying an Oculus Rift or Vive, but it's still not cheap. I was totally on board with a day 1 purchase when it was supposed to be $350ish.

Also, I've tried the Gear VR and it was neat, but can anyone tell me if the Vive or Oculus still have a FOV that includes a black space at the edge of your vision? If they don't man that would be so much better. Tunnel vision isn't the greatest.

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g.poubelle Avatar
22
4 Months ago

I was saying that Gear VR is a ~99$ upgrade "IF" you already own the Samsung smartphone.

And that the CV1 (including headset, Touch, and a ~GTX 970 level GPU upgrade) is closer to being a ~999$ upgrade "IF" you already own the PC.

That's a small step for smarphone users, but a huge leap for PC users.

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Anakhoresis Avatar
505
4 Months ago

I was just being more specific, and pointing out that the phone itself is pretty expensive anyway.

I'm not really sure why you would add a GPU and controllers to the price for a VR headset when comparing it to GearVR though... If you're talking about upgrading hardware then in my opinion the cost of the phone in comparison is justified.

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g.poubelle Avatar
22
4 Months ago

Well for ~600$ you can get a Gear VR compatible smartphone.

And for the same ~600$ you can get a casual PC with a good enough quad core CPU, but not one with the kind of high end GPU that Oculus VR recommends, so you do have to add the cost of that GPU upgrade somewhere.

But the general idea is that the 100$ cost of Gear VR only represents a small 1/6th of the smartphone's 600$ price, while the 600$ CV1 headset will double the cost of that initial 600$ PC, and the CV1's options (200$ Touch, the optional 80$ camera, the compatible Inateck USB hub, the recommended GPU upgrade) will almost finish tripling it.

Oculus VR needs to halve their asking price (using single screen DK2 and Razor Hydra magnetic level technology if needed), before they can assume ~99% of Steam users didn't buy a VR headset for their PC because they didn't want one.

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DustyGerkin Avatar
165
4 Months ago

Oh where has Palmer gone?

1