It Could Be 5+ Years Before VR Becomes Mainstream, Oculus Rift Creator Says

But that's OK, because selling to Facebook allows Oculus to play the long game, Palmer Luckey says.

Oculus VR's ambition to have a virtual reality headset in every home is a bold claim, and one that might not come to fruition anytime soon, according to Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey. In an interview with GamesIndustry International, Luckey said this is OK because having the backing of Facebook gives the company enough immediate stability to think about what's best for VR in the long-term.

"It might be next year, it might be five years from now," Luckey said about when VR might become mainstream. "Maybe VR doesn't really take off for consumers for some time. But the good news at having such a big backer behind us is that we can now afford to play that long game. Rather than having to make money now or we stop existing and someone else takes over, we can think about the best thing to do for the long-term of virtual reality."

The consumer version of Oculus Rift is likely to be released by the end of 2015. In terms of pricing, we know it will be "affordable" (the latest developer model sells for $350), but Oculus VR has not announced further details. Similarly, Sony's PlayStation 4 VR headset--Project Morpheus--is unlikely to be released publicly anytime soon, and pricing details are also a mystery.

"With publishing, it's not just about what shows off the tech; it's about what is actually going to make people go out and buy a Rift" -- Nate Mitchell

Another issue facing Oculus Rift is that of content. People won't buy an Oculus Rift if the platform is lacking compelling software, according to vice president of product, Nate Mitchell.

"For this platform to be as great as it can be, it's all about content," he said. "With publishing, it's not just about what shows off the tech; it's about what is actually going to make people go out and buy a Rift. And that's been one of the gating factors to the consumer version, in the sense that a lot of people would buy the [latest Oculus Rift development kit] right now. But if you did that you would have no games to play. We need to help seed the ecosystem and remove that risk for developers. [That's] super important."

In April, Luckey said Oculus VR's partnership with Facebook allows the company to sign deals with independent studios to make VR games. Words with Friends creator Paul Bettner is one such developer; he's bringing a third-person game, Lucky's Tale, exclusively to Oculus Rift.

Also in the interview, Luckey said the fact that most VR game demos today require a controller is a less-than-ideal situation. A better solution would be some type of full-body control system, he said (Oculus VR is rumored to be working on its own special controller). However, designing games in such a way is no easy task, as it would require game developers to essentially re-learn their craft.

"Controllers are a necessary abstraction right now, but a controller is not the ideal VR input," Luckey said. "You want something that's able to track your body movements, by haptic feedback and all these different things. But it's very challenging to do that, because people have been designing games for traditional controllers for a long time. So it's something that we're actively researching and developing, but I don't think a controller is going to be the answer for VR--at least, not the kind that people are traditionally using. It just makes sense for right now, because it's something that everybody has."

Of course, Oculus Rift is not just for games. The company contends that the technology has the potential to be a major player for industries like film and education. Luckey even maintains that one day it might be considered financially irresponsible to attend a business meeting in person when you could just simulate that sit-down in VR.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch

For all of GameSpot's news coverage, check out our hub. Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com


Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

178 comments
m48a5lfcss
m48a5lfcss

But its not VR.


VR is like in real life being able to see , hear , taste , smell , touch in a game and this gaudy welder helm is like virtual boy , you can only see.

When I can actually live in a game with all my senses and all of my actions(moving etc) have impact  only in the game then thats VR , it could only happen if we could intercept the signals the brain emits and send them to a virtual avatar and thats far away because people think this thing is VR , a virtual boy on 2014 and it will hold advancement of actual VR back.

I hope Sony and morpheus are trying to achieve actual virtual reality but thats just wishful thinking.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

It'll be longer than 5 years, more like 20+. There's no way to streamline the tech and price of these welders helmets these idlots are wearing.

DuaneDog
DuaneDog

Five years or more... I have the developer kit. It is way cool, but I actually think Nvidia's stereoscopic active 3d is far more engaging, you can play it a long time, very adjustable and works with hundreds of PC games already. Yet look at how difficult it is to gain mass acceptance. Everyone I know who tries it has their jaws drop. 10 times better than in the movies with cheap $1 glasses. Active shutter glasses (~$150) cover alternate each eye so you get full 1080p and extremely crisp 3d compared to the other 3d tech. It's way awesome and far less cumbersome and isolating than the VR technology.


Having used the developer kit the biggest problem is that you won't be gaming with it more than about 20-30 minutes. Less if you are turning around a lot. Even after many hours my cognitive stamina for it was an hour or two at most. With the 3d active shutters my stamina would get to 3-4 hours after continued use. 


When VR really happens I don't think it will resemble the technology we see now in the Occulus Rift. They know that too as I expect it will take 5 years to get it light enough and the redraw fast and smooth enough to come close. Even within 5 years I'm not sure they will solve lag issues between the instant you move your head, the computer to recognize that turn and update the image. Currently the Rift uses a trick in which it cuts off the image entirely and shows black when you move your head instead of trying to update the image in real time. To have a smooth transition in which the image is constantly updated they must achieve 2ms to 3ms lag or less. Even with very expensive tech the best they can do is about 20ms lag which would make you sick as a dog if not for showing black during your movements. I expect the successful device will build a lot of the processing in the headgear itself. 


Will never work as needed as long as you have to communicate in real time between the computer itself and the display.

KimCheeWarriorX
KimCheeWarriorX

thats like saying we're actually getting hoverboards next year

Remco187
Remco187

 Hmm how does one take a drink or a cookie with that thing in front of your eyes?

I can only see an inc headache when thinking about playing a game with that on my face.

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

Vr will happen eventually even if it seems like a pipe dream right now the world technology advances at a crazy speed who knows what the future may hold.

vylasni
vylasni

Moving along, nothing to see here...

shahdeewasahoe
shahdeewasahoe

- VR is crap.

- But have you tried it? (numerous likes)


This comment section and every other VR article in a nutshell.

chris72sax
chris72sax

Won't this have to be 4k or 8k to give us the illusion of a massive movie screen. I would love to be able to read a virtual book while laying on a virtual beach. Integration with tactile inputs could allow you to sculpt, paint, type, and even work on equations while laying in bed. You could build virtual prototypes, or connect to robots to handle radioactive materials. The surgical possibilities. This will be big.

simsumre
simsumre

Am I the only one that simply doesn't care about this stupid thing? It seems to me the only people excited about VR are the people constantly pushing it as the next best thing since sliced bread. We've tried this already in the 90s, it didn't work. Now all of a sudden it's new and exciting, just like 3d movies (which were available in the 50s!).

daikkenaurora12
daikkenaurora12

It wont be mainstream in 5 years.  Lucky cant wait to get more money thats all.

Triton
Triton

I recall when Sega was going to have VR back in the 90's.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

I hope Facebook is willing to ferry your asses along for the next ten years because that is how long it is going to take for regular content to get to it let alone it become mainstream. That is if it lasts that long before getting put aside with its buddy, 3D.

Phooey442
Phooey442

It will never be mainstream in its current form. Maybe a few decades from now.

player1711
player1711


It's not VR, it's a monitor mounted on your head. 


Also, it won't become mainstream. Where do these people think mobile technology is going to be in 5 years? What developers are going to invest the same amount as they do for consoles & mobile games into it? The film industry won't invest millions so someone can look at the floor rather than the subject. Not only that, you're basically suggesting they will drop cinemas to make content for the Oculus Rift. With such a limited use, it won't be invested into in education. I doubt they'd have each, individual student wear one to watch content that could be played on a tv. 


All of this doesn't even come close to how ugly it is. If you want something to be mainstream, if you want the popular culture to adopt it, it has to look good. 

oldtobie
oldtobie

They need to concoct a really solid, standard way to play FPS games that utilizes headtracking.  If I remember right, TF2 has like 10 different setups that you can use with the Rift and they all make the system treat the headset differently.  Mainstream audiences won't want a whole bunch of settings to fiddle with.  

I don't think the Rift can replace mouse control/right thumbstick control (left is you use southpaw, weirdos), simply because it only has roughly 200 degrees of motion potential (necks).  In addition, a player's view will always have a center of some designated "forward" position at which he will return while in an idle mode.  This means the perspective would need a way to either move independently of direct motion (e.g. holding a thumbstick at a point other than at the center) or a way to move the input device (the player's neck) without sending the control to the system (e.g. lifting the mouse off of the table/pad).

The most practical control method I can think of for a first-person or locked over-the-shoulder perspective that utilizes the headtracker is keeping the thumbsticks and mice exactly as they are, changing the position of the player's central view or reticle, but allowing free movement away from this position by means of the headset.  This would allow movements such as peeking around corners or cover, quickly viewing areas to the left/right/above/below, etc.  However, this method introduces another issue.  

Would the mouse and head be completely independent of one another, would the mouse control be parented to the head control, or would the head control be parented to the mouse control?  The first option would be the most intuitive, but it would need some kind of edge-locking system that would be difficult to implement as a standard and most likely would not be pleasant to use.  The second option would not work, as the same 200 degree issue would be present.  The third option I see as the best.  It would be difficult to adjust to, but I think it would work far better than the other options.  A player would basically have the same control that he always had in a game, but could look in all directions local to the central crosshair.  The only issue I can think of is the result of looking straight up or down with both head and mouse/thumbstick, but this could easily be remedied with a script that locked the total angular pitch to something like -90 and 90.  

lovely_dime
lovely_dime

Think it's a race against time for Morpheus or Oculus to hit and Sony seem far more ahead of Oculus in terms of a finished product. Also Sony have seasoned studios and a much more power friendly headset with it's single screen system. Have a feeling Morpheus will take off first and gain distance ahead of other VR headsets

EdAl2112
EdAl2112

Could be 5 years before someone says, "whatever happened to that oculus thing 3 years ago? Remember they wanted you to wear that silly thing on your head? It's like they didn't take the hint about people not liking wearing 3D glasses. I heard all they use it now is for virtual p orn... Hey, remember 3D?...." 

NikoKun
NikoKun

@m48a5lfcss that is not the definition of VR.. And the Virtual Boy was not a VR device, it was basically a tabletop stereoscope gameboy.

If you try the Rift for yourself, specifically DK2 or better, it creates a feeling of presence in the virtual world. Even tho it's just visual, you're brain is tricked enough that you feel like it's a real place, like you're present in a physical reality, you just can't touch. Try it yourself, it is real VR.

They gotta start somewhere, and this stuff proves VR is finally good enough for most people, and that will drive it to get even better.

NexusP
NexusP

@DuaneDog Barrier of entry is too expensive and exotic for 3D Vision.  You need a computer to use it and a compatible screen.  At the time, it was too expensive and incompatible with other hardware until 3D Play came out.  3D itself suffered because of exclusivity in content when it first arrived and multiple sets of glasses can get steep.  Not to mention, it's so easy to break those things.  I do love 3D vision for games in a more relaxing situation but it is incomparable to something like Oculus in terms of immersion.  With the technology being released with Samsung GearVR.  Things are looking really promising.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

I like how you keep dropping "I have the developer kit" like you're some industry big-wig. You probably stood next to a guy who used one.

NexusP
NexusP

@chris72sax They say that that is the ultimate goal but it will look great in 2k.  Many games work well to give presence with 1080p on my Geforce 660.  Newer cards are coming later this month or October which will run things even better.  Oculus is currently working on a input method, but there are other companies offering options too and the selections are getting cheaper.  DK2 is truly amazing.  

NexusP
NexusP

@simsumre Why is it stupid?  Does it not do what it says it can do?  3D movies are far better today then they were in the 50s and i own many.  They are still being released in theaters and we never had a good home option before.  The screens are getting cheaper.  If the movies don't do it for you, gaming in 3D especially with 3D vision should convince you.  VR is another beast all together and you really should experience it as a consumer product before dismiss it entirely.  Even the dev kit could make you a believer.  In the 90's they didn't have a fraction of the tech that they have now and VR was limited to blocks rather then replications of true life.

blackothh
blackothh

@simsumre I dont care either, im not going to play games with a helmet on, let me know when holodeck is figured out.

roganth
roganth

@simsumre  I don't care about it either.  I see it as a gimmick, like you said how 3D was supposed to be the next big thing despite coming out in the 50s and several times since.  3D never caught on, but it has been a temporary gimmick many times.  All these companies are chasing the casual dollar and trying to recapture the original wii's success with motion control.  Kinnect, move, wii-u, VR whatever they are all gimmicks and fails.

NikoKun
NikoKun

@Triton Except back then the hardware technology was simply not ready. The devices they were creating back then were either too crap to create "VR", or so expensive no one could ever afford them beyond the military..

Now we have affordable VR, and it functions better than the highest-end VR before it ever could.

DuaneDog
DuaneDog

@player1711 I agree... Until 3D TV & 3D gaming is the normal method and people are choosing it over regular TV and games then VR will never get there. We see the struggle 3D has to be the most common way to play or watch movies and VR has a far bigger hurdle to get over. I expect 5 years until 3D is everywhere and another 10 or more before VR is commonplace. Both will remain niches for the foreseeable future.

NexusP
NexusP

@player1711 It is VR and it is produced by having a Monitor strapped to your head.  I guess you have one valid point.

PS2fweak
PS2fweak

@player1711 You're completely ignoring the other half of the business. What about consumers? You keep saying content creators won't do this or they won't do that. Of course they will if the business makes sense. If people buy into VR, content creators will do the same. 


You talk about the film industry as if it's one thing. Who in the film industry are you talking about? What about VFX studios? What about people like James Cameron? The floor is part of the subject when it comes to environments. What do you think James Cameron's Avatar: The Exhibition is, or any film based exhibit for that matter? You already know people go to places to feel like they're inside of a film. These places still can't come close to what VR currently produces from a visual standpoint. 


You're acting like VR isn't a seperate revenue stream. It doesn't replace anything. It only adds another artistic medium for those who want to create for it. 

lovely_dime
lovely_dime

@oldtobie I believe Oculus will have made a 360 dergee turn system before release. More than likely working on it right now.

NexusP
NexusP

@lovely_dime Sony hasn't shown a any capable games and the PS4 doesn't have the horsepower for proper VR.  They had the chance to get it right for years with all of the non VR head displays that they created which did nothing to actually produce a VR experience.  Maybe they have some secret tech that no one knows about.  There are full games already supporting Oculus Rift and many major upcoming games that are playable in beta such as Elite Dangerous. 

ipitydafool
ipitydafool

@lovely_dime Erm, the Oculus DK2 has a single OLED screen and is USB powered.

oldtobie
oldtobie

@lovely_dime They'll crank it out and it will have some Little Big Planet-esque PS+ games, but will have little to no integration into genres that people actually want to play.

lovely_dime
lovely_dime

@EdAl2112 3D TV's and VR are very far apart. Watching TV with glasses on and wearing a VR headset are 2 totally different things

m48a5lfcss
m48a5lfcss

@NikoKun @m48a5lfcss Not really , If your brain was really tricked to actual being there you would not get a headache within an hour of gameplay or nausea for some people.

This is just a screen up your face and the symptoms say it all.

DuaneDog
DuaneDog

@NexusP @simsumre I agree with this... though the fact 3d, particularly active 3D by Nvidia is the bomb. It looks amazing and you can play virtually any mainstream game already with virtually no sacrifice at all.  Yet it struggles in the gaming space to gain mass acceptance. VR has a lot of hype right now but seeing how poorly Nvidia's 3d is accepted given just how amazing it is tells me VR will likely fall on its face compared to the hype it is receiving right now. 3D must make it all the way to mass acceptance before VR has a chance.

NexusP
NexusP

@roganth They are creating their own eco system and much more mature games are already being created.  I actually used the Kinect 360 on my PC for FPS games for hand gestures and it worked well.  It's all in how you implement it.  Motion control is only a component for interaction.  This is a different product and motion control devices have only gotten more advanced because of it if you take a look at all the supplemental interface projects that had successful kickstarters 

DuaneDog
DuaneDog

@NikoKun @Triton First though 3D will have to make it fully mainstream before people will be ready for VR. VR is more isolating and makes you even more motion sick so until people feel they want to be in front of 3D tv and 3D games they are not going to be ready to jump into VR. 

player1711
player1711

@PS2fweak @player1711 For starters mate, the consumers won't want it unless content creators are already investing into it. It's not a case of, everybody buy this so people can create content for it. The content is crucial for selling the product. 


Avatar made over a thousand million at box office. Do you think for one second that James Cameron if given the opportunity would have made the film for the Oculus Rift instead? Considering he made a deal to earn a percentage of its gross profit, I doubt it. People within the film industry want to make money. Now they can either make conventional films that can be played at the cinema, at home, on your smartphone, on your tablet, on streaming services, on television channels & so on, or make films for the Oculus Rift. You won't get the same return on the Rift so you won't get the same investment. That is a fact mate. No-one will throw £300 million at a film production for the Rift. Scene changes would be a pain too.


I haven't ignored the consumer. You tell me why popular culture is going to want this product. 


VR is a separate revenue stream. 

lovely_dime
lovely_dime

@oldtobie @lovely_dime I don't want VR to take over all gaming. I'm looking forwarde to trying out some VR made games and I'm sure Sony are making them as we speak

DuaneDog
DuaneDog

@lovely_dime @EdAl2112 I have the developer kit. The 3d technology from Nvidia is far superior to even the best case Oculus VR consumer product. Until 3d is the standard for gaming and for TV don't expect VR with more motion sickness, more lag, and more isolation from those around them to become the standard.  They are two different things and one of them (VR) is more cumbersome and makes people far more motion sick and has far less content.


VR is cool but it just can't be used for very long and nearly everyone gets motion sick if they play for more than an hour or so. 3D is cool, less cumbersome, and has tons of games.


Owning the VR stuff myself I'm the first to say it has far more gimmick than even 3D at this point. It would be a real challenge to ask someone to spend 8 hours playing a game on the Occulus Rift. I personally would have a better chance of running a marathon. But with the 3D tech I could do 3-4 hours without even getting mildly sick. 

oldtobie
oldtobie

@lovely_dime @EdAl2112 Technologically yes, but as a cultural icon, no.  Both new and potentially innovative forms of viewing media that have/do/will encounter(ed) problems with widespread distribution, implementation, and conceptual solidity.

NikoKun
NikoKun

@m48a5lfcss what you just said, makes no sense at all. -_-


Most people don't get nausea or headaches with VR headsets as good as DK2 or better. And even those who do after a while, still have a great time up until that point. It doesn't cancel out the awesomeness, just because the hardware needs to keep advancing, we're finally at the point where the problems are disappearing! In a year or 2, there wont be any "symptoms" at all, other than questioning whether reality is real. :P

lovely_dime
lovely_dime

@oldtobie 

Never seen anyone amazed at 3d tv like VR before. Imagine them to be two different experiences

m48a5lfcss
m48a5lfcss

@NikoKun @m48a5lfcss No sense ? i guess you haven't watched tv for an hour up close , its the same thing and most people haven't played it more than 15 mins , the rest that got it for promotion(pewdiepie and some other youtube channels) report these issues.

Its a step forward but by calling it real VR is an overstatement , still a virtual boy for pc and consoles.

lovely_dime
lovely_dime

@ipitydafool @lovely_dime Ever way the Morphues takes a lot of weight off the PS4 to get over the power problems. PS4 can run a game on Morpheus like it was running a game on a TV.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@lovely_dime @oldtobie That is because 3D is old. They did say the same thing about 3D about 40 years ago. That everyone in the future will view everything in 3D and we just don't. It makes some people ill, annoys people who already have to wear glasses and there isn't enough widespread media coverage for it. Those things seem to remind me of something else.

Everyone says we will use headsets now and I just don't know how it will become mainstream in the slightest. For it to become mainstream it will literally have to improve the experience of everything that flat screens can currently do. If I can sit here and type this comment to you with a headset on and it somehow be a massive improvement then I'll get a headset but that day won't come soon. Flat screens are here now, they work and they work well for 99% of everything they do. I've never had problems being immersed in games and movies on a flat screen. I've never felt that flat screens were somehow limiting my viewing potential. THAT is the exact thing that Oculus needs to convince the mainstream of. Otherwise why will anyone use a headset at all?

This will be used in niche game types, simulations, the odd first person games like adventure games but the reason those are niche is because THEY ARE NICHE, not that many people play those game types. Meaning how will VR ever become mainstream using them?

NikoKun
NikoKun

@m48a5lfcss No.. It's NOTHING like sitting too close to a TV. That's not how the optics/lenses work. -_- It's shocking how little people know about how this stuff works..


I bought both the DK1 Rift and DK2, and I've played games in both, for hours at a time. I played through all the HL2 games in DK1, and I'm playing them again in DK2. It works great. :P Yes, dk1 had some issues, but DK2 does not have those same problems anymore.


I don't think pewdiepie has a DK2 yet, but most people I've seen demoing the DK2, do NOT report those issues, unless the game itself has things in it that are too intense.


Again, it IS real VR. You seriously need to try it yourself. Once you do, you'll completely change your mind.