Oculus Inc., the company behind the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, recently held a conference called “Connect 2” in which the company brought the public up to date with everything it has been up to.
You can watch the full conference below, but if you just want to know the key points, we’ve summarised them just past the jump.
Price and release date
Unfortunately, no concrete price or release date were confirmed for the consumer version of the Oculus Rift. The closest we have is an estimated price of (very roughly) $500 (R6 918) and a release date sometime in the first quarter (January – March) of 2016.
But we did hear about the Gear VR, which is a headset made by Oculus Inc. that uses Samsung phones as a screen. The new version of the Gear VR will cost $99 (R1 370) and will launch this November in the US with the rest of the world to follow shortly after. The headset will be compatible with the following devices: Samsung Galaxy Note 5, S6 edge+, S6, and S6 edge.
A YouTube video has been released showing off more games coming to the Gear VR in 2016:
Oculus Arcade is also coming to Gear VR, which is said to bring “more than 20 classic games from Sega, Warner Bros., Midway, and Bandai Namco into your own virtual arcade”.
The service is said to launch later this year, with classic games Sonic the Hedgehog, Gauntlet, Spy Hunter, and Pac-Man available.
Part of Oculus Video, a service that aims to bring all manner of entertainment to VR, is a partnership with Twitch to get streaming on the Gear VR.
Minecraft, which is almost on every gaming platform you can name, will also be coming to both the Oculus Rift and Gear VR headsets.
Movies and TV
Although gaming has always been the poster boy of VR, there were new developments for the big and small screens as well. For instance, Hollywood studios Fox and Lionsgate are bringing more than 100 movies to a virtual cinema in Oculus Video.
If smaller screens are more your thing, content services Vimeo, Tivo, and Hulu are also coming to Oculus Video, while Netflix’s VR app (that brings the Netflix library to Gear VR) is already available.
Since Connect 2 is actually intended to be a conference for people working on VR products, there was a great deal of news for them specifically.
While the recommended PC specs to properly run the Oculus Rift were announced back in May, at the conference Oculus also stated that it is working with NVIDIA, Intel, and AMD, presumably to make their hardware work better on PC, regardless of what is inside of it.
To make getting a PC that can work with the Rift easier, there will be the Oculus Ready PC programme. From next year, PCs from Asus, Dell, and Alienware will be offered that will cost under $1 000 (R13 732) and will be able to run the Rift. We don’t expect that low price to be translated to retail over here in South Africa, though; if anything, they’ll cost a lot more.
A software development kit (called Rift SDK 1.0) for the Oculus Rift will be available this December, with games made in it playable on the same day the Rift itself launches.
Speaking of SDKs, one for the Oculus Touch will also be created, as well as “Oculus Medium”, an “art tool” for the motion-sensing peripheral. The Oculus Touch development hardware, as well as the SDK and Oculus Medium will be released in the second quarter (April – June) of 2016.
Eight games will be coming to Touch, including the extremely popular Surgeon Simulator.
Here’s everything else, in brief:
- Facebook launched 360-degree videos in its News Feed and in November you will be able to access the 360-degree content from Oculus Video.
- Oculus accounts will be getting more options to customise their profiles.
- The list of games coming to Oculus Touch:
Some of us here at the htxt.africa offices are really, really excited about VR; do you share the sentiment or do you feel it is going to be just another “meh”, and fail as spectacularly as VR attempts have failed in the past?