The Game Developer’s Conference is right around the corner. For video game creators, both old and new, this means a lot of sleepless nights excitedly reading over the session list and carefully planning your trip. For journalists like us it means the PR wheel has begun turning, trying its best to crush us with emails, meeting requests, and potential demos.
Among the deluge this morning was a missive from GDC itself. Inside were several short interviews with some of the big companies attending the show this year. Included were chats with Steve Arnold, the head of studios at Oculus. Arnold’s job is to work with game developers to create top-quality content for the Oculus Rift VR headset. Most of what Arnold said in this piece is boilerplate “we’re excited for this chance to work with developers” GDC-talk. However, a few lines stood out as being particularly interesting.
When asked what Oculus’ “big goals” for 2017 are, Arnold responded:
“We want to show the world a glimpse of the future of gaming and entertainment. Now that hardware is out there, the real interesting part is to see what developers will make. At this point, dev kits have been in the wild for a couple years now. Some studios have started shipping their second or even third game.
With that sort of time investment and knowledge base behind them, we’re confident that the 2017 game line-up is going to start showing the depth and engaging narratives that people have come to expect from existing games. Some of these will be reinventions of traditional genres in VR, while others will be explorations of new genres.
I’m personally most excited about the games get us even closer to what most perceive as AAA quality, especially those from top tier studios like Epic, Twisted Pixel, 4A, and Ready at Dawn. We can’t wait to help launch those games and see what people think.”
This coincides with the promise of “months of high profile rollouts” the company has talked about previously. What Arnold seems to be driving at here is that the Rift’s content library this year will bear a stronger resemblance to traditional, AAA console and PC titles. These are games like Fallout 4, The Witcher 3, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Call of Duty, etc. None of these properties are mentioned of course, but that’s the level of quality and production values that they appear to be shooting for.
Oculus has made it clear that they are committed to the creation of top-tier VR content. At last year’s Oculus Connect 3 conference, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that his company had spent $250 million on the development of VR experiences and that it would spend at least that much again in the years to come. That amount of capital is certainly enough to create many unforgettable titles for 2017 and beyond.
We already know many of the games Oculus is touting this year including those being worked on by the studios Arnold mentions above. There is: Epic (Robo Recall), Twisted Pixel (Wilson’s Heart), 4A (Arktika 1), and Ready at Dawn (Lone Echo). All of these are promising games that we’ve tried at various shows. But, as Oculus’ head of content Jason Rubin is so fond of reminding everyone: this is just the beginning.
We know Oculus has had teams working in long-tail development cycles on bigger games that we’ve yet to see or hear anything about. GDC may be a time for Oculus to showcase it’s previously revealed heavy-hitters more thoroughly, but it could also be where we start to see just how much “depth” this young company is willing to provide.
Either way it should be quite a ride. We’ll be bringing you full coverage on the show floor and beyond at GDC beginning on February 27.