We had the outstanding Time cover shot of Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey floating sans footwear over a badly faked beach scene, but thanks to the Mobile World Conference, we now have Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg striding confidently into a future full of VR enthusiasts. The moment caught in the image was when Samsung was sneaking Zuckerberg onto the stage for his surprise entrance, walking right past an audience of tech journalists. It’s a nice reminder of how VR can connect and disconnect users at the same time.
Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have a lot of investment in VR technology, being the owners of Oculus. His presence at the show was used to announce his company’s partnership with Samsung and their Gear VR project. Samsung then revealed that they would include a free Gear VR unit for anyone that pre-ordered the Galaxy S7 phone.
HTC finally published the price for their Vive VR system. It’s $799 for the consumer kit that includes the headset, two wireless controllers, a pair of base stations, a Vive Link Box, and a pair of ear buds. That’s $200 more than the previous sticker-shock reveal for the Oculus Rift, but HTC asserted that the expense was due to all the extra hardware. The HTC Vive will come with Job Simulator and Fantastic Contraption VR games. Job Simulator sounds like a real escape from the humdrum daily grind of life. Valve in partnership with HTC, has made a VR Performance Test application available for free on Steam to see if your PC is up to VR’s hardware demands.
“$599 US dollars!” The infamous exclamation of Sony’s Kaz Hirai during the price announcement for the PlayStation 3. Gamers and techies can now bask in the glory of those words again thanks to Oculus. The Oculus Rift consumer model is now available for pre-order and far from most analysts’ prediction of being in the $300 range, the unit costs $599. Lucky buyers get an Xbox One controller, EVE: Valkyrie, and Lucky’s Tale to go with their flashy VR headset and positional sensor. The first units will roll out on March 28th.
Keep in mind that you’ll need a bit of extra kit for your Oculus Rift to work. The company recommends a beefy computer that can handle the demanding needs of VR software. (Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD R9 290 minimum graphics processor.) “Oculus Ready PCs” will be offered in February to take all the guesswork out of that end of the setup.
Oculus has formerly responded to the lawsuit ZeniMax media filed against the Facebook-owned VR company last month. In the response, Oculus contends that the accusations ZeniMax leveled at them regarding John Carmack’s theft of technology and sharing of proprietary code during his tenure is without merit. According to the original ZeniMax lawsuit, Oculus co-founder and inventor Luckey Palmer appropriated ZeniMax code and work from John Carmack while he was consulting on the VR Rift device. The lawyers from Oculus say that ZeniMax neglected to finalize a non-disclosure agreement that was given to Palmer to sign, and that they have evidence that shows they did not use ZeniMax technology while developing the Rift headset.
“By its conduct, express statements, and silence, ZeniMax understood that the Oculus Rift and the technology powering it belonged solely to Oculus VR and that Oculus VR had not infringed any of ZeniMax’s intellectual property rights or otherwise misappropriated any proprietary information of ZeniMax.”
The response goes on to accuse ZeniMax of trying to take advantage of the new Oculus owner Facebook, and their deep pockets. Now that the initial suit and formal response have been filed, the real battling can begin! Choose your side and fight!
E3 has come and gone. Attendees squint around in its wake, cobbling together a means of remembrance from the show. What were the themes? Was this the year of early access? When Battlecry is dated for “Beta 2015” it’s hard to think not. Maybe it was finally the unveiling of next-gen games? Maybe there were #trends to talk about. Sure, let’s do that. I feel like I’ve learned something. I daresay, even a few things.
After the jump, we hardly knew ye. Continue reading →