The Oculus Rift is seeing some major competition from other companies releasing their own virtual reality headsets.
We met with Oculus before Sony announced its own virtual reality headset, but Oculus' Nate Mitchell wasn't worried about the existence of the hardware as much as he was concerned about the quality. In fact, it's in the best interests of Oculus that the rival headsets offer the best experience possible, especially if they're coming from large companies.
"I think there's space for multiple VR headsets, definitely," Mitchell said.
"We're excited to see what announces later this week," he continued. "My biggest fear is that someone delivers a VR headset that's bad. What we can't have happen is that people get excited about VR, and they're excited about the Rift, and they buy into it because they don't have a powerful PC but they have a PS4, and you buy it and it's bad."
"If it's bad, they're going to think VR doesn't work. We're going to prove that VR works, and we would hate for anyone to turn people of the world off of VR in a big consumer way."
Sony has announced its own virtual reality headset, Project Morpheus, in the time since this interview, and Mitchell was speaking before the details of the hardware were known. Companies the size of Sony getting into virtual reality is a good thing for Oculus, Mitchell claimed. But only if the hardware is good.
"If they went into VR, they would be awesome competition to have."
"The challenge right now that we have is if you're a major studio, an EA or a triple A developer, you want users to buy your game. If there aren't users to buy your game it's impossible to get return on investment," he said. "If that's impossible, it's hard to justify buying games and experiences. As soon as the audience is there, developers and engineers, designers, they want to work on VR. There is an incredible amount of enthusiasm in the industry. It's hard to get sign off at the executive level, because who do they sell it to?"
So having a working virtual reality headset for the PlayStation will help Oculus, if only in that it will help attract more developers for virtual reality as a platform. The low-persistence OLED display of the development kit 2 was helped along by Valve, and Mitchell gave them high marks for their work in virtual reality. Oculus itself recently hired Atman Binstock as the its new chief architect.
"Atman was one of the lead engineers and driving forces behind Valve's VR project, creating the 'VR Room' demo that garnered so much excitement at Steam Dev Days," the announcement stated. I asked if Mitchell was relieved that Valve wasn't releasing its own retail VR hardware.
"I kind of wish Valve would. A part of me wishes they would," he said. "If they went into VR, they would be awesome competition to have. But really, all the work they've done has really pushed virtual reality forward. If they invested more heavily it would help developers get on board to deliver games."
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