Jason Rubin: 'The Oculus Quest Is A Console'

Jason Rubin: 'The Oculus Quest Is A Console'
June 26, 2019

Oculus Quest software sales have topped $5 million, with user resistance to VR dropping thanks to the Quest's standalone form-factor.


Oculus has come a long way since its booth full of chairs and televisions at E3 2014. The Facebook-owned VR company has fully embraced standing and movement in VR, an evolution from Rift’s “seated-only” beginnings.


Five years after a terrifying Alien: Isolation demo (that never materialized into a full VR experience), Superhot’s outstanding first showing, and Lucky’s Tale’s humble beginnings, the Oculus booth is a tribute to full-body, full-motion VR. Large plexiglass enclosures exposed to the show floor put players on stage for anyone walking by to observe.


The chairs are gone, as are the large televisions. Now, a small PC monitor operated by a demo guide is used to load up any number of previews on hardware. Players are given room to move around the space and interact with the immersive virtual worlds.


“We need more space now,” said Jason Rubin, Facebook vice president of special gaming strategies told GameDaily at E3 2019. “With these inside out tracked headsets, even with the corded Rift S, more space is necessary, because you can move more. Back in those days, we didn't have three external trackers, we had two. So, you had to face forward, and you could only go a couple meters by a couple meters.”


This year, Oculus was still showing off seated experiences --like Phantom, a game in which you row and shoot from a “tactical kayak.” It’s a strange pitch, especially if you see someone flailing wildly without understanding what they’re playing.


“It was one of the weirdest pitches I've gotten,” Rubin said. “And it turns out it's awesome, because.. your brain just goes, yeah, I'm there. This is one of those where even if you're not a kayaker, because I'm not a big kayaker, it just works. You just forget the fact that you're not on the water. The locomotion just works. And again, you're seated.”


I had the chance to preview two games designed for the Oculus Rift S, the company’s modest update to the original Oculus Rift. Unlike the original consumer headset released in March 2016, the Rift S does not require external tracking sensors. This means that players can move and turn. They are limited by the Rift S’ cable, as the new version is still tethered to a PC.


“It's evolutionary. It's not revolutionary,” Rubin explained. “Think about consoles. You can update the console, smaller form factor, lower costs, all of that. If it plays the same software, same ecosystem. It's a different device, but it's the same ecosystem. PlayStation 5 may play software that you can't play on 4. That's a new ecosystem. This is the same ecosystem.”


My first demo on the Rift S was an upcoming game from Sanzaru, Asgard’s Wrath. I immediately started getting God of War-meets-Skyrim vibes, as I walked into a tavern to meet the local color, including the trickster god Loki.


The demo picked up after the fledgeling god protagonist slays a kraken in battle. Loki has taken an interest in the new deity, offering to counsel him on the ways of godhood. While we’re certain this will go bad in the long-run, the charming and mischievous god was on our side (for now). He tasked me with helping a shieldmaiden seek revenge on Tyr, who killed her brother.

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