The 9 Biggest VR Stories Of GDC 2017
Whew, what a week. Can we sleep now? With each passing year the Game Developers Conference (GDC) becomes more and more important to the VR industry, and 2017’s iteration was no different. There have been a frankly ridiculous amount of announcements over the past six days and we wouldn’t blame you if you’d missed a few of them.
So we’ve gathered what we’d consider to be the nine biggest stories of the show, representing the need-to-know information. If you’ve been living under a rock (or in a VR headset) for the past week then look no further! You can start by listening in on our hour-long post-GDC live videocast analysis from yesterday right here:
After that, keep scrolling for the nine most essential headlines of the week.
1080 Ti Supercharges VR
VR requires meaty graphics processing power to run well, and Nvidia continues to push the boundaries with its latest GeForce GTX GPU release, the 1080 Ti. This is said to be around 35% faster than last year’s 1080, in many ways coming close to or surpassing the company’s top of the range Titan X Pascal GPU too. It’s shipping this month for $699 for all VR enthusiasts that want to push their VR experiences that bit further.
Rift’s 2017 Line-Up
Last year at GDC Oculus revealed much of its line-up for the imminent launch of the Rift. One year on and it’s ready to debut its bigger, better 2017 line-up, fueled by the recently-released Touch controllers. We’d seen games like Arktika.1 before, but new titles like From Other Suns and The Mage’s Tale are truly looking like the next generation of VR content.
Vive’s Peripheral Prices Are $99.99
HTC introduced its new add-on Trackers and an integrated audio strap for the Vive at CES in January, and it kicked off GDC with the announcement that both will be available for $99.99 each in the coming months. The Tracker will roll out to developers first and we saw plenty of great examples of what they’ll do with it at the show. This is something to be excited about.
Khronos’ OpenXR Sets VR/AR Standards
If we’re not careful, fragmentation could become a major issue for the VR industry, with so many devices already out there drastically different in features, power, and more. Khronos wants to combat that with OpenXR, a standard framework for VR software that will help you develop across multiple headsets and input devices. This could be crucial for social VR and bringing apps to as many platforms as possible.
New Gear VR, New Controller
With Google Daydream launching with motion controls last year, Samsung and Oculus’ Gear VR needs to play a bit of catch up. Fortunately the pair are doing just that; a new Gear VR was announced at Samsung’s MWC press conference last weekend, and will likely be fully unveiled when the company reveals its new S8 smartphone later this year. It’s got a controller very similar to a Daydream remote, which we can’t wait to get hands-on with.
Hands-On With the Microsoft Windows Holographic VR Headset
One of the biggest question marks heading into GDC was Microsoft. We knew it was going to announce when its dev kits for its VR headsets for Windows Holographic would start shipping at the show, we just didn’t know what that kit would look like. Well we got hands-on with it and it has potential. With consumer devices set to launch this year and Project Scorpio on the horizon, there’s a lot more to learn yet.
LG Looks Good With SteamVR Headset
We always knew there would be other SteamVR headsets beyond the HTC Vive, we just didn’t know what they’d be and when we’d see them. Turns out LG is the next company to partner up with Valve and it was at GDC with an early prototype of its headset, which doesn’t have a release date yet. We went hands-on with the device and were quite fond of it. We look forward to more details as the year progresses.
Robo Recall Ready
Epic Games’ Rift-exclusive Oculus Touch showcase, Robo Recall, was always pegged for an early 2017 release, but people were starting to get a little anxious it might not make that window. Well Epic had a perfect surprise for everyone on Wednesday when it actually released the shooter for free. If you’ve got Touch then be sure to go and grab it, it’s not one you should miss.
VR’s First Major Price Cut
Price cuts are a major part of driving adoption of any product, and a tactic we see used often in the console business. It looks like VR will be no different; Oculus this week announced that its Rift was dropping from $599 to $499, and Touch was dropping from $199 to $99. That’s both Rift and Touch for slightly less than the original price of just the headset itself. Game on.