At Oculus Connect I spoke with CTO John Carmack some and reminded him of comments he made about Minecraft being the best title for Gear VR.
He explained the call was made not to bundle a gamepad with Gear VR, as they had for all the developer attendees at Oculus Connect one year. This means the game he’d worked so hard with Microsoft to bring to the fledgling Oculus mobile platform didn’t have an audience with the right controller. So it’s unsurprising the game — even with Touch controls on Rift – hasn’t become an anchor or major draw for their platform or VR in general, despite Carmack’s initial enthusiasm.
With the massive $1.25 billion investment in Epic Games today, the company is likely to undertake a period of rapid change under CEO Tim Sweeney. Epic builds both the Unreal Engine toolset — used by game designers globally to build virtual worlds — as well as its own games, like the cross-platform battle royale leader Fortnite. Balancing both those endeavors with $1.25 billion to spend is going to be an interesting process to watch. For VR, then, I don’t think we can discount Epic’s support (or lack thereof) in a particular platform as being related to the success of the platform itself. Sure, developers can use Unreal tools to make games for Oculus Quest in 2019 and Facebook helped fund the creation of Epic’s Robo Recall, so we know that game is coming to the headset in some fashion. But that’s not the same as Epic supporting VR with its most important title.
Does Oculus Quest Need Fortnite Or Minecraft To Succeed?
The list isn’t very long of cross-platform virtual worlds that let players play together from almost any device — Minecraft, Rec Room and Altspace are available in VR headsets and on other devices, but Fortnite is on practically everything else. The game even came to Android bypassing the Google Play Store because that’s 30 percent more revenue per player for Epic Games.
If you buy Oculus Quest in 2019 and don’t know anybody else with the headset, what games are you going to play with friends and family? Quest’s $400 price tag will surely be tempting to buy in pairs for local multiplayer action, but it is unlikely too many people are going to do that in the first year. There are likely lots of multiplayer gems in the 40 or so Oculus Quest launch titles that have yet to be officially confirmed, but without a significant install base of passionate players those multiplayer lobbies could turn into ghost towns, just as they have for so many games on other headsets.
So does Oculus Quest need a popular — and universally available — social gaming experience like Fortnite or Minecraft to succeed? Let us know in the comments what you think.