E3 celebrations might be going on in LA this week, but online there’s a heated debate over VR exclusivity, and Oculus is right at the heart of it.
Yesterday Mario Kotlar, a member of Serious Sam VR developer Croteam, popped up online claiming that Oculus VR had offered a “shitton of money” to make the upcoming VR FPS exclusive to the Oculus Rift, thus preventing it from coming to other platforms like the HTC Vive. This was following the reveal that Giant Cop, a VR game by Other Ocean, was seemingly now to be at least a timed exclusive to the Oculus Rift, having first been announced for the HTC Vive. Oculus has now issued us a statement, however, in which it denies asking Croteam to drop support for other systems.
The statement reads:
We regularly offer developers financial grants to help fund early development of new titles to accelerate development or expand the scope of the game. In some cases, we exchange funding in return for launching on the Oculus Store first, with the expectation that the game will go on to launch on other platforms. In the case of Croteam, at no time did we request that they stop development for other platforms, and we look forward to seeing Serious Sam be successful across the entire VR ecosystem.
It’s important to read both parts of this statement carefully here. The first half specifically mentions an expectation that developers under timed exclusivity deals will bring their content to other HMDs later on. The second half notes that Oculus never asked Croteam to stop working on other platforms. In other words, yes, Oculus did offer the studio timed-exclusivity, but never asked it to stop working on the Vive version, thus making it a full exclusive.
Croteam CTO Alen Ladavac has also confirmed this in another statement. It reads:
Ok, Mario, you’ve had fun here, now let’s get serious.
I want to clarify some of the inaccuracies about our relationship with Oculus. Oculus did approach us with an offer to help fund the completion of Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope in exchange for launching first on the Oculus Store and keeping it time-limited exclusive. Their offer was to help us accelerate development of our game, with the expectation that it would eventually support all PC VR platforms. We looked at the offer and decided it wasn’t right for our team. At no time did Oculus ask for, or did we discuss total exclusivity or buyout of support from Vive. We look forward to supporting Rift and Vive.
It sounds like Kotlar’s original statements could have been made a little clearer, then, but nothing the developer wrote was strictly false. Oculus offered a funding grant to Croteam in exchanged for Serious Sam VR debuting on the Oculus Store with the freedom to head elsewhere afterwards. Croteam ultimately denied both that deal and the funding.
Serious Sam VR will be releasing in Early Access this summer. You’ll see it on both Rift and Vive. We’ve also just heard from Valve’s Gabe Newell about Oculus VR’s approach to exclusives.