2016 was touted by many as the “year of VR”, and with three major headsets launching in the span of a few months that moniker makes a lot of sense. While VR hasn’t completed it’s global video game takeover, the technology is starting to spread out beyond its early adopters. One of the big discussions among those early adopters, and among the game developers who are making the VR titles for them to play, is whether Oculus Rift or HTC Vive has the right idea about the future of VR. According to a new interview with Epic founder Tim Sweeney, he feels that Vive has the right idea.
In the interview between Sweeney and Glixel, Sweeney talks a lot about VR and the future that it can provide. In terms of today’s market, he explains that lots of companies are taking the same approach as Apple, creating a closed off walled garden. “There’s a lot going on that’s wrong. Apple has a monopoly on iOS hardware. That’s fine. But they shouldn’t be able to tie that market to a monopoly on distributing software, on collecting in-app revenue from software. I should be able to go to a web page and download a new Epic game to my phone without Apple’s approval. I should be able to use Confederate flags, if that was our design choice, in our product.”
Speaking about Oculus and how they are also taking this approach, Sweeney said “Yes. I think it’s the wrong model. When you install the Oculus drivers, by default you can only use the Oculus store. You have to rummage through the menu and turn that off if you want to run Steam. Which everybody does. It’s just alienating and sends the wrong message to developers. It’s telling developers: “You’re on notice here. We’re going to dominate this thing. And your freedom is going to expire at some point.” It’s a terrible precedent to set. I argued passionately against it.”
Thankfully, it seems that Sweeney and the market agree and the open platform of HTC’s Vive is doing better so far. “But ultimately, the open platforms will win. They’re going to have a much better selection of software. HTC Vive is a completely open platform. And other headsets are coming that will be completely open. HTC Vive is outselling Oculus 2-to-1 worldwide. I think that trend will continue.”
We don’t have official figures, but the Vive has seemed to sell better in most markets from what we’ve seen. Oculus Rift has the name recognition, but the controversies around it have been too great, causing backlash from buyers. With both headsets now caught up on the overwhelming demand at launch, it will be interesting to see if the trends continue and we end up with an open VR platform, or something closer to the iPhone.