Oculus Rift Was Always Going to Launch Without Touch Controllers

The Touch controllers are coming in the second half of 2016.


It was never Oculus VR's plan to launch Oculus Rift with the device's Touch controllers, according to creator Palmer Luckey. He said during a roundtable discussion attended by Ars Technica that Oculus instead wanted to focus on more traditional, gamepad-based titles for Rift's launch later this month.

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"We never planned on launching Touch with Rift," the 23-year-old inventor said. "We're going to have a really great Touch lineup later in the year, but we really wanted to focus on the games people have been working on for years with gamepads right now."

Luckey went on to say that he did not want to "force people to buy [hand-tracking] controllers they might not even be interested in. that are only useful for certain genres especially when there's a very limited content library so far."

By comparison, the $800 HTC Vive will come with a pair of motion controllers when it launches in April, while Move controllers are already available ahead of PlayStation VR's launch in October.

Rift's Touch controllers are scheduled to launch in the second half of 2016, though a specific release date and price have not yet been announced. For more on the unique controllers, you can check out GameSpot's hands-on video above.

In explaining the Touch delay back in December, Oculus said is needed to push the release out to allow time to implement changes related to "significant advances in ergonomics, and we're implementing many changes that make Touch even more comfortable, reliable, and natural."

The strange-looking, circular Touch--announced during an Oculus event in June--is comprised of two controllers, one for each of your hands. Each has a traditional analog stick, two buttons, and an analog trigger, as well as haptic feedback and what Oculus calls the "hand trigger." Touch is also capable of tracking "a set of finger poses" that work to "recognize natural hand poses like pointing, waving, or giving a thumbs-up."

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Luckey describes Touch as "a pair of track controllers" that offer "hand presence, the sense of feeling as though your virtual hands are actually your real hands. This is critical to nailing the sense of overall presence. Once you have your hands involved, you really need tracking to be absolutely perfect, accurate, and low latency, or you're going to feel like your hands are dead."

Touch won't be the only way to control Rift games. Through a partnership with Microsoft, every Rift will come with an Xbox One controller.

Also in the interview, Luckey said that, even though Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR are coming out this year, you shouldn't expect the virtual reality market overall to take off too quickly.

"People talk a lot about 2016 being the year of virtual reality," he said. "To a degree that is going to be true. But it's not going to be all of a sudden everyone in the world is using virtual reality, or even that all gamers are using VR. There is going to be an adoption curve over time, starting with more early adopters and PC gamers that own or are willing to buy a high-end PC."

Luckey also explained that Oculus plans to update the Rift in the future at a rate of "somewhere between a phone and console." As advancements are made, "we're going to get our hardware better and cheaper and lighter, and the computing power required to drive the headsets are going to get much cheaper and lighter to reach a much larger audience," he said.

In other news about the Rift, Oculus has announced the device's 30 launch titles and detailed their prices and comfort levels.

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