Oculus attempts to defend DRM, the lack of touch controllers and their developer strategy

Palmer Luckey's vision for the Rift is slowly and surely being ripped apart by Facebook, but what does the company have to say to defend itself?


It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that Palmer Luckey’s vision for the Oculus Rift was the virtual reality experience that we all wanted. He wanted a headset that was affordable, controllers that moved beyond the “sh**ty” console controllers and games that were cross-platform and DRM-free.

Since Oculus’ acquisition by Facebook however, things have gone in the exact opposite direction. Oculus still does have the better headset, there’s no doubt about that, but that headset is very expensive and ships with a console controller on top of that (the Xbox One controller in this case). To top off that list is the fact that now, Facebook has decided to force DRM on the platform.

Gamers are more than a little upset and that, coupled with the recent parts shortage means that the few gamers and developers who actually ordered the headset still have to wait weeks, if not months, for their sets to arrive.

At E3 2016, Gamespot got a chance to speak with Anna Sweet, Head of developer strategy at Oculus.

They touched on most of the aforementioned subjects and Sweet did her best to defend Facebook’s Oculus strategy and what it means for gamers.

The burning question of course, was DRM. Luckey had been very vocal on that point, assuring gamers that DRM wouldn’t infest the Oculus Rift platform. When asked about the issue, Sweet insisted that Luckey was focussed on individual consumers rather than developers as a whole. She said that “we’re focussed on shipping a really good platform and making sure that developers ship really great content to customers.”

Essentially, she insisted that Oculus was trying to build a platform that developers would be willing to invest in and where their content could be secure. Gamers would also benefit from this directly as focussed development would mean better games.

When Gamespot pointed out that the Rift started out as an open platform, that this was one of the expectations of the Kickstarter, Sweet completely avoided the question by insisting that it was her job to look after developers and content and that a question like this would be better answered by Nate Mitchell or Luckey himself. Nate Mitchell is Vice President of Oculus.

Gamespot did add that they had requested an interview with Luckey weeks before E3, but Luckey declined, saying he wouldn’t be available at E3.

Moving on, Gamespot pressed Sweet about the number of exclusive games being released for the Rift. They wondered why there were so many exclusives and if that would result in fragmentation.

Sweet pointed out that Oculus was deeply involved with the developers who were making those games, going so far as to provide those developers with resources, funding and a whole lot more. Developers like the ones behind SuperHot for example, wanted to build more, to scale-up their game, Oculus Studios was the one that helped them out.

She adds that these developers are free to develop on any platform they like and that only the games funded and supported by Oculus are exclusive to the platform.

Other points of contention including the lack of Touch controllers and the limitations of the Xbox One controller as a VR controller were lightly dismissed by Sweet. She pointed out that the Touch controllers were coming this year and claimed that the Xbox One controller wasn’t a bad option at all.

It's quite obvious from the interview that Palmer Luckey and Facebook are not seeing eye-to-eye on the matter. Regardless, VR is still in its infancy and available platforms and still too expensive and exclusive to be worth creating a fuss about. The VR wars are yet to begin.

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