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After Selling to Facebook, Oculus Reassures Supporters That Headset is Focused on Gaming

CEO Brendan Iribe says, "We're focusing on gaming; that's our top priority."

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After Oculus VR--maker of the Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming headset--sold itself to social networking behemoth Facebook in March, some fans wondered if technology would be shifted away from games. Not so, according to Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe, who says in an interview with Bloomberg that gaming remains a "top priority" for the company going forward.

"We're really game developers at heart," Iribe said. He pointed out that the Oculus VR team is made up of numerous video game industry veterans like John Carmack (id Software), Michael Abrash (Valve), and Jason Rubin (Naughty Dog, THQ), among others.

"We're focusing on gaming; that's our top priority" -- Brendan Iribe

"We're really focused on the game market," Iribe said. "A lot of people think, 'Oh, [Oculus Rift is] going to go into communications and these other areas.' And, 'Now Oculus is part of Facebook and they're not going to be focusing on gaming so much.' And that's really not true."

He added, "We're focusing on gaming; that's our top priority. And the foundation of VR is built on a game engine. It's built on a 3D scene that you have to render in real time at an incredibly high frame rate, which is what game developers do best."

Iribe also pointed out that Oculus VR will develop its own games internally, through a team led by Rubin.

Though Oculus Rift may be a gaming-first platform right now, it may not stay that way forever. When Facebook acquired Oculus VR in March, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the virtual reality tech has an opportunity to impact markets beyond gaming, and Iribe seems to agree. He said virtual "face-to-face" communication is a "longer horizon driver" for how Oculus Rift can reach 1 billion people someday.

Sound familiar? That's because Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey said in April that at some point in the future, it could be considered irresponsible to send people on business trips because you'll be able to have a "meaningful" virtual meeting through technology like Oculus Rift.

Also in the interview, Iribe said he doesn't think of Sony's Project Morpheus headset as a competitor because that device caters only to PlayStation 4 owners while Oculus Rift serves a wider, platform-independent crowd. He also admitted that he has yet to try Project Morpheus.

Lastly, Iribe gave a status update on the consumer version of Oculus Rift. He said the company has created a consumer prototype that is superior to the the latest development kit. It is lighter (it weighs "almost nothing," Iribe says) and is apparently more comfortable than the current version. Plus, Iribe says about 500 people have tried this version and only a "handful" have experienced motion sickness.

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