Virtual reality is dependent on the concept of telepresence, which primarily consists of two sense elements: immersion and interaction. If these two are satisfied, you should be able to forget your immediate physical environment and focus on your existence within the virtual environment. Two years ago, Palmer Luckey came up with the technology to truly achieve this. And the Oculus Rift showed so much promise that Facebook purchased it about a year ago for $2 billion.
Only a few months into 2015 and the promise of a unique virtual reality experience is getting closer and closer to becoming a truth. The rapid progress in the evolution of VR headsets and other related hardware is also the latest rage in gaming culture, news and events, such as the Gamer Developers Conference (GDC) and South by Southwest (SXSW).
The Oculus Rift still only exists as a developer’s prototype. Its latest prototype – Crescent Bay – packs two displays instead of just one. The consumer version still lacks a release date. Luckey had previously said that unless something went terribly wrong, the Oculus would be available for consumer purchase by the end of this year. But at the South by Southwest 2015 panel a few days ago in Austin, Texas, Luckey said he could not commit to a particular date, attributing it to the changes in their ‘roadmap’ on being acquired by Facebook.
“I can’t comment on the date one way or another, in either direction, but I can say that nothing is going horribly wrong,” he said. “Everything is going horribly right.”
Since the advent of Luckey’s improved technology, several other rival headsets went into development and are set to be released soon. The main competitors of the Oculus are 1) the HTC Vive, which was developed in partnership with renowned video game developer and Steam maker, Valve, and is scheduled for consumer launch this year. 2) Sony’s Project Morpheus 2015 prototype is lined up for release some time in the first half of 2016.
Luckey went on to claim that the Oculus will be the best VR headset at any price point.
“We’ve expanded a lot of ambitions around the product and what we want it to do,” he said. “Us partnering with Facebook is allowing us to do things that we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”
While being the first to make it to the market may establish Valve’s victory, there are still other factors to consider besides the time of entry into the market before pronouncing a judgement, such as ease of use, price, whether it truly holds all the advantages that VR gaming has over traditional gaming and how effectively it achieves telepresence.