The State of the Game: VR in 2017

Oculus Blog
Posted by Jason Rubin
March 1, 2017

Today we took a major step in bringing PC VR to a broader audience. We’ve brought the all-in price of Rift and Touch to $598—driving down the price by $200—and announced a bunch of new content for 2017. We’ve always been aggressive in driving VR forward, and today VR and the development community have hit another huge milestone.

After launching VR into a hype cycle generated outside of the industry, we’ve recently seen some of those same voices shift to predictions of VR doom and gloom. We believe these stories are as overblown as the initial hype, and we still believe in VR’s unlimited long-term potential. Today we’re taking a material leap forward thanks to two things: price and timing.

Let’s start with price. We’ve read all the stories and looked at the analyst reports. VR is going through the normal adoption cycle for new pieces of technology. We saw hype into launch, facing impossible expectations, and we will eventually break out with the “hockey stick” of mass adoption.

Oculus believes, as do the thousands of original Kickstarter backers and millions of current users, that VR is the next computing platform. We also know that if there aren’t major investments made to the ecosystem, it’s going to take a really long time to reach that eventuality. So today, Oculus is aggressively making the high end of VR more attainable.

Price matters.

We know this from responses to hundreds of thousands of surveys taken at our retail demo locations, as well as from empirical evidence before us: Console VR is less expensive and currently outselling PC VR, and even less expensive Mobile VR headsets, like our Gear VR device, are outselling Console VR. Bringing the higher quality of PC VR toward these lower price points is an obvious win for both consumers and PC VR. This price drop was as inevitable as it is beneficial. This is how the technology business works.

Today’s new, lower price of Rift and Touch doubles down on a year of dropping PC and graphics card prices. It’s costs 30% less for someone to walk into a store and outfit a complete high end PC VR experience, including desktop PC, Rift, and Touch, than it did just a year ago when we launched Rift.

We believe this lower entry price will attract consumers to PC VR at a faster pace. This is universally good for the entire community, but especially for developers. A larger userbase means higher potential sales, easier player matching, better communities, and results in the ability to invest more in titles. This increased investment means better software which in turn brings more consumers. This virtuous cycle is the fuel that can launch PC VR.

Content matters too.

High-end VR has been out in the wild for over a year now, and the number one question I’ve received since Rift launch is, “What’s the killer app going to be and when does it arrive?” I always give the same answer: No one could have predicted that Mario or Halo would be the definitive games in their era. Nobody could predict how loved they would become or how big an impact they would have in pushing their respective hardware platforms forward. They were the right games, at the right time.

I can’t say for sure that this year’s line-up is going to have VR’s World of Warcraft or GTA, but with every new release, and with every new discovery, VR gets closer to finding its killer app. For that reason, Oculus has been the single largest investor in the VR ecosystem from the start. On both PC and Mobile, we’ve used investment in software development to push the market forward. Many titles that benefited from that investment sit in other stores and on other platforms today. Everyone benefits.

The quality and depth of VR games will continue improving and at a faster pace. What we’ve seen so far has come from developers working on brand-new tech, under time and budget constraints, without an established language for gameplay, or even de facto ways of doing UI.

In traditional game development, a mid-size title can take anywhere from one to two years to create, and the typical AAA game today takes a minimum of two years to make and averages three years or more.

We have to remember that as of this GDC, our developer community has had dev kits in their hands for less than two years and has only been able to get feedback from consumers about what they’re doing for a year. With that frontier style development behind us, and with second-generation development and informed design taking place, the sweet spot for developers to create breakout hits opens. Some of these titles will become perpetually loved VR series that are with us for generations.

We’ve definitely been impressed with VR’s first wave of content, there’s no doubt about that. From The Climb and The Unspoken to Chronos, SUPERHOT VR, and so many more. These titles now exist in our store library and a new player has instant access to this large catalog of great entertainment. But in 2017, we’re going to see things take off as titles get closer and closer to to the AAA games everyone desires.

Game developers exist in an ecosystem of shared ideas. They learn, borrow, and grow from each other to bring the most boundary-pushing content to market. Every time a studio launches something groundbreaking, that’s fantastic news for the community. It means there’s something even better coming right behind it. That’s where VR is right now.

This year, we’re excited to be able to launch an Oculus Studios title almost once a month on PC alone. Add to those releases the dozens of organically funded titles coming to the ecosystem and it’s just a great time for consumers to get into PC VR. We don’t know what the killer game or app will be, but everyone will have a great time in the vetting process!

And as of today, you can join the revolution at a much more compelling price.

I’m really inspired by what’s happening in VR right now. I think that now even more people will get the chance to experience all the great content coming to the medium.

Strap in—it’s gonna be one hell of a ride.