"We understand that the fastest way to get VR to the masses is by taking leaps forward in the quality of content...I watched that happen over decades for the PC. We don’t want this to take decades, so somebody has to put in resources to get it to grow more quickly."
- Oculus VP of Content Jason Rubin, speaking to Shacknews about why Oculus is continuing to fund VR devs.
At its third annual Oculus Connect conference last year it was abundantly clear that Oculus VR now sees itself as a multifaceted platform holder, rather than just a headset company.
In a recent interview with Shacknews, Oculus VP of Content Jason Rubin made it equally clear that the company also doesn't consider itself a publisher, even though it's invested over $250 million in funding developers to make games for its hardware and plans to push that figure past $500 million in the near future.
"What we are is a source of funding, a source of information, and an ability to get games that are larger than what would otherwise may be made into the ecosystem at this time," said Rubin. "We do not look to be a publisher. We do not want to compete with an Electronic Arts or Activision in the long term. That is not our goal."
The company has come under fire from competitors for its practice of funding development of VR games that then go on to be exclusively available (on a timed or permanent basis) on Oculus hardware; HTC VP Joel Breton recently described such practices as "problematic" for devs' long-term success, while Valve chief Gabe Newell said earlier this year that VR exclusives were "bad for everybody, certainly in the medium- to long-term, and I'd probably argue in the short-term as well."
However, some devs (including Rocketwerkz' Dean Hall, who launched a VR game last year on Rift and Vive that wasn't built with any funding from Oculus) have said that exclusivity deals are the only way some devs could tackle VR game projects. Without that money, those games simply wouldn't exist.
In his conversation with Shacknews, Rubin takes pains to point out that Oculus is very "un-publisher" in how it operates (devs keep IP rights, for example) and even suggests that the company is handing out so much money that some games made with Oculus funding have wound up being sold on other hardware because they were "not appropriate for our store."
The full interview is brief (it's the first chunk of a planned three-parter) and worth reading for devs with an interest in the VR market, as it sheds fresh light on how Oculus presents itself to VR game devs and the game industry at large.