Oculus has big plans for its new Quest headset and, if realized, they could have a huge impact on virtual reality gaming moving forward.
In an effusively optimistic piece on The Verge, Oculus describes its new standalone Quest VR headset as a game changer when it comes to delivering blockbuster VR gaming experiences.
Revealed at the annual Connect developer conference held by the company, the Quest took the company about five years of research and development is part of the company’s overall goal of bringing in more people to the VR space. As a division of parent company Facebook, we’re sure they will have a lot of help in that area.
But the statement that really captured audiences’ attention came from none other than legendary game developer John Carmack, one of the people behind DOOM, Quake, and Wolfenstein who was unequivocal in his statement calling the Oculus Quest a games console in its own right.
He is quoted by The Verge as saying: “Realistically, we are going to wind up competing with the Nintendo Switch,” as opposed to the current Oculus Go which he described as a medium for content delivery such as media and the like but not really as a gaming device. Towards that end, Carmack’s promises hint at the kind of walled-garden system found on home consoles and bragged that this was one of the advantages offered to consumers who purchase the new Quest.
Continuing with the comparison to the Nintendo Switch, Carmack said that the Quest isn’t meant to challenge the top-of-the-line headsets out there on the market but rather will act as a vehicle for broadening consumer perception about virtual reality gaming. The idea that you could play a VR game anywhere is a powerful one but we don’t know that video games were radically popularized by the advent of the Game Boy but the general thrust of bringing in more people certainly sounds like a sensible plan.
That said, the Oculus Quest still promises to deliver experiences that are unlike any other on a traditional console game and should field enough support to bolster the claims of being a VR console.
Head of development for the Oculus Rift, Nate Mitchell, had this to say about the new Quest: “I think for Quest, the question is, ‘Do you have a PC?’ The reality is a lot of my friends don’t,” Mitchell says. In the past, that’s meant that many people who may have been interested in VR not for the novelty of the experience, but for the actual content — games like Epic’s Robo Recall and Crytek’s The Climb — haven’t been able to try any of it due to the barrier to entry. As a result, they tend to write off VR as a whole as something that’s not for them, at least not until it’s less expensive and more accessible….They want that experience, but they haven’t been able to get there in terms of taking the leap into buying a PC.”
Certainly bringing more players into the fold is a great idea but one nagging issue remains with the comparison to the Nintendo Switch. Unlike Oculus, Nintendo isn’t fielding multiple efforts with overlapping markets and, instead, consolidated their profitable portable division with their home consoles in order to realize the increased synergies that marriage would bring.