A Conversation with Oculus VR Founder Palmer Luckey
September 3, 2013 Page 2 of 6
It does make sense in terms of what you're saying -- but you also said you really hope to encourage a lot of different types of experiences.
PL: First person shooters are the obvious choice, because everyone's made them, there are lots of people playing first person shooters. But even games that are first person but are not shooters, like EVE Valkyrie -- its gameplay is very distinctive compared to most first person shooters, and it's a really, really good experience. Or we're showing iRacing downstairs, and that's a racing simulation title, and that's fantastic in the Rift.
And then you have all these crazy things -- you have people making 2D side-scrollers that wrap around you, or third person games where you're controlling multiple characters by looking at them -- just all kinds of really crazy stuff.
Obviously you got a really good head start, and you've got really good technical chops. But in the end, this is probably going to be one of the first products in this sphere, but there are going to be people following you. What is going to keep you ahead of the curve as competition starts to catch up?
PL: Well, we have the first mover advantage. We've got a really good SDK that makes it really easy for game developers to port games over and make virtual reality games. I think we've got the best team in the industry so far. I think that we're going to continue to make the best hardware in the industry. As long as we can make the best hardware, have the best people, and make the best software for developers, I think that we'll be able to stay in front.
And there will be other people, I'm sure, and in a way that's good, because the more people get into the space the more that legitimizes it. We're not just one crazy company. It shows that there actually is a market and that there are plenty of people that are interested in doing it besides us, and I think that it might mean more content. The more players that there are in this industry, the easier that it will be to make virtual reality content if there are multiple platforms that it can be on.
Large consumer companies obviously have similar technologies, but probably not assembled. We don't know who, but you will probably have followers. Is it your internal tech development that differentiates you?
PL: I think the things that would differentiate ourselves -- if a larger player got involved and said, "Hey, we're going to make a really big push around, this" -- one, we really do have an awesome team for making a software development kit. I don't think they're going to have a very easy time making something something that's as good as what we've made so far.
And I think, hardware-wise, we have so much momentum and we have so many connections in that industry that unless this company is willing to take a huge push that's it's going to have a hard time making something better than what we're going to be pushing to the consumer market.
And like I said earlier, if one of these companies does decide that they're going to spend all of this money and make a really big push, then it only ends up being good for us. Because if there's more people in the market, then more developers can justify making content for VR. Because that's what's going to make our platform, is content that is made for virtual reality. And if there are 10 VR headsets that are out there that all work with the same games, then it's a lot easier for developers to justify making VR-only games.
You mentioned the fact that there is a market. But do you have any sense of how large or what the potential is for that?
PL: It's really hard to estimate. We can sort of guess that there are a lot of people, but we can't really put a number on it because there's never really been a VR headset that really had any kind of shot at consumer success or has gotten as much attention as we have.
I think that a given is probably at least a couple hundred thousand people globally, because that's just a small fraction of the hardcore PC gaming market. So even if that's the only market we tap into, hardcore PC gamers, then we end up with a sizable number of people.
The real question is, will we be able to get less hardcore gamers, work on lower-end hardware, or even work on mobile hardware? Will we be able to expand that to where there's a lot more people?
In the end, it's just going to be a USB device -- or at least that's what I think. So have you considered working with consoles?
PL: There's no technical reason we cannot work on consoles. It is not up to us. It's up to them.
You have to be certified.
PL: It's totally up to them. That's really the only issue. You can make a game for a next-generation console that looked up to a Rift and played it, but it's up to the console manufacturers to allow you to have a USB device that passes the data over.
Is that something you're pursuing, or are you more worried about focusing on your first hurdle?
PL: If we were talking to the console manufacturers, I wouldn't be able to tell you if we were, so I can't really comment on any of that. But right now we're pretty much focused on PC and mobile, because they're both open platforms that anyone can target.
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