Oculus Drift


As excited as I am about VR stuff, I am certainly less excited to the point of being the exact opposite in the case of Facebook. In the past couple weeks or so, I’ve noticed several VR game announcements turn out to be exclusive to the Oculus platform, which at this point seems to only be for the Quest systems since they’ve discontinued everything else. Taking what I’ve said before about exclusive games to platforms and wanting to treat VR headsets equally as displays, I’d prefer if developers, or more likely publishers, weren’t so eager to fully hand over the keys to the future of VR over to Facebook.

Multiplatform is an important thing. It works for people because they might not have to go out of their way to get a specific machine to run something, and it works for sellers because it increases overall sales. Long story short, if it can run on the Quest, it can certainly run on a PC that can handle a Vive, at least from a technical requirement standpoint. Running specifically Quest packages on a PC probably takes some level of emulation or conversion, given that it seems to be based around an Android core, but there are Android emulators, and then there would be the possibility of attaching one of those to OpenVR to interface with more headsets, but if a PC can manage to run higher-end VR things, I’d hope it’d be up to the task of emulation. Not that I’m trying to advocate piracy here, though, it’s more just speculation as to how it could be done without any work on the side of the original developers.

The trend in general technical things though seems to be obsessing over exclusives, where it’s spread from consoles to PC game stores, streaming services, and now reaching VR where it’s pretty much become PC versus Quest, because that’s the hardware dividing line. Given how early it is in this current iteration of VR, trying to enforce something like that runs a higher risk of wrecking that part of the tech industry. While it would be great to have the entry cost to get into VR to go down overall, and the cartels are making that practically impossible as far as the PC side of things, and the idea of a standalone headset that doesn’t need any wires except to charge every few hours or so is great, it would be much better if it didn’t come with the cost of needing to attach one’s VR privileges to a social media account. Particularly one on a platform known to make hair-trigger decisions on banning someone for any random reason they feel like that moment, which is to say nearly any social media platform.

There are the arguments about some PC VR headsets being functionally connected to a Steam or Vive account, though those can be run outside of that simple setup with the right configuration, and that the Quest has the possibility nearing requirement on being jailbroken, but the main takeaway here is that companies so eager to sign projects over Facebook-run projects are mainly doing so for a payout up front. It’s just like with that whole Epic store thing, just that Facebook has a larger potential userbase proportionally as well as knowledge of marketing, so they may be able to take a larger hit. However, if it doesn’t profit well enough soon enough, and if the VR landscape shifts significantly in their favor in that meantime to being a supermajority, that means they could be making the mainstream decision to end that era of VR, and it could be a decade or two before the public picks back up on it if that were the case. I could still stay as an enthusiast and play with whatever was out by then that I was able to play, but more things seem to happen when more people are involved, for better or worse. Maybe there’s a happy medium where it’s not super mainstream and homogenized as anything else, like with the battle royale genre, but there’s at least a good community to play with.

There is also the case of the PS5. While it’s currently using the PS4 configuration for VR, there is a PS5-specific kit in the works, and it will be apparently using an Oculus-like setup from the controller style to featuring inside-out tracking, keeping it fairly self-contained aside from likely a connecting wire to the headset. It probably won’t need a Facebook account, though, unless they somehow got the weird idea that VR has to be licensed out in that fashion. Still, it is its own platform, and there are some instances of third-party VR features being tied to it, even with the current limitations on the PS4 iteration, namely not having joysticks unless using the regular controller. As far as VR-only exclusive games, though, not much seems to come to mind aside from Sony’s own things made for it. At this point, PSVR is the mid-level option, which a whole setup could be gotten for under $1000 USD, in the future depending on how expensive the PS5 iteration is as well as if any PS5 consoles are available at MSRP by that point.

Again, it’s about multiplatform things. Like with my thoughts on the Epic store, it being another thing to put games on doesn’t mean it should be the only thing to put games on. The only parties enthusiastic about having games be exclusive are the ones behind the platforms paying for that in the first place. They do it so they can sell more of that platform. I just feel like I have enough platforms right now, particularly physical consoles which occupy a fair bit of shelf space. Even when it comes to the PC storefront space, while I probably have plenty of space to install a bunch more launchers and a game from each, my decision to not deal with a launcher is based in the business of the parent company. Even if I was only getting the free games, like I did with whatever EA and Ubisoft are calling their things now, and I installed those on the big gaming PC.

It’s also something to do with the apparent integrity of the company. While there’s the usual consideration of money being the root of the typical modern evil, a company that’s willing to take some monetary risks with consideration for user experience being a more positive one without resorting to back alley deals and briefcases filled with cash tends to stand out more to me. It is also terrible that a company being more open to doing nice things for its users more comes from being behind in competition than out of good will, but the main thing is that the consumer is the one who should be taking advantage of the situation in those cases. And if that company turns back into a miserable monolith purely focused on profit, the consumer just goes and does something else. That’s a big reason why I don’t really look to buy games now that went fully exclusive for a company-sponsored payout rather than it being a result of some other limitation, even following any later release on other platforms. My research can only extend so far, though, so if I happen to miss a case, I’ll figure it out later. And Nintendo is a different bag, mainly holding their IPs so tightly that they only appear on their own consoles aside from phones. There’s other issues there, but they seem to largely be staying out of VR since the Virtual Boy and their take on Google Cardboard.

Long story short, exclusives are a bad idea, Facebook is still Facebook, I’d like more people looking into VR, I’m totally not grasping at straws to justify somewhat recent expensive purchases because I have better justification already, and I also maybe talk too much in text. But it’s my site, and it’s better to go off on tangents here than annoy everyone already annoyed on social media from others making long rants that are several hundred tweets long. I also don’t have a problem with people in general who use Facebook and Oculus devices, it’s another one of those situations where my issues lie with the company/government than the people under it. My issues with people are either larger societal issues or individuals that are total jerkasses. That’s a different thing for another subject that I’ve probably ranted about many times already.