Last week, Facebook marked the one-year anniversary of the Oculus Quest, the company’s second (and more powerful) standalone VR headset. It’s been an absolutely packed first-year for the device, so here’s our year in review roundup of everything that happened, just in case you forgot.
This time last year, the Oculus Quest had just launched. The device was Facebook’s first standalone VR headset that could provide full room-scale tracking and controllers, featuring a few pared down ports of PC VR games and some exclusive new content developed for the platform. Since launch, the Quest has received a plethora of updates, new features and improvements — so many, in fact, that we’ve had to update our review twice already!
A lot happened for the Oculus Quest in the last year, so here’s a breakdown of the biggest stories as they happened, month-by-month.
Launching the impossible headset
This was the month it all started! While we might take it for granted now, building the Oculus Quest was no easy task. We wrote about how Facebook managed to build the headset, a product that they once thought might be ‘impossible’. John Carmack also indicated a 3DoF mode, dual controller input and 60Hz mode for videos would be three features that the Quest would receive in future post-launch updates.
A Strong Start, Virtual Desktop and SideQuest
In the first month after the Quest launch, Vader Immortal passed 1000 ratings on the Oculus Store after just two weeks and Facebook stated that the Quest made $5 million in content sales in two weeks. Talking about the Quest’s strict curation policy, Oculus’ Jason Rubin stated that the team “will not categorically say no to anything” submitted to the store.
Virtual Desktop also added support to stream PC VR games wirelessly to the Oculus Quest this month, but Facebook asked for the feature to be removed less than a week later.
However, an alternate version of Virtual Desktop with the streaming feature intact was later made available via sideloading and it continues to be an option for those looking to stream PC VR games wirelessly to the Quest. This version can be installed via SideQuest, an application that streamlines the process of installing non-Oculus approved content on your Quest. The application launched soon after the Quest in May, but it first caught our attention in June.
Venues and Tracking Improvements
In July, Facebook launched Oculus Venues for the Quest and pushed out a new software version that made some dramatic improvements to the Quest’s controller tracking algorithms.
Surpassing Sales and Court-Sized Play
In August, Vertical Robot, the developers of Red Matter, noted that the sales on the Oculus Quest had already surpassed the game’s lifetime sales on the Rift in just one week. The developers of Space Pirate Trainer also shared footage of a new multiplayer Quest game, Space Pirate Arena, that requires court-sized play areas and supports multiple Quest users playing in the same space.
Oculus Link, Hand Tracking and Much, Much More…
September was a huge month for the Oculus Quest, mainly due to announcements made at Oculus Connect 6. Perhaps the one with the biggest implications for the Quest’s future was Oculus Link, a new service that would allow you to use a USB cable tethered to your VR-ready PC to stream and play PC VR games on the Quest. The Quest would act just like an Oculus Rift when using Link, and so it even supports non-Oculus content like SteamVR. While Oculus Link still requires a cable, John Carmack noted that he ‘would eventually like’ Link to work wirelessly.
Facebook also announced at OC6 that the Quest would receive controller-free hand tracking in early 2020, and that it would be bringing more than 50 popular Go apps to the Quest. Additionally, Facebook also indicated that Passthrough+ and the ability to display passthrough on demand would come to the headset in a future update. Facebook Horizon was also announced as the company’s big push into social VR with customizable worlds, expressive avatars and user-created experiences, which would launch on the Quest and the Rift in 2020.
Also at OC6, Stress Level Zero also announced that the team were working on a new Quest game ‘in the Boneworks universe’ for 2020, while John Carmack noted that the Quest was the company’s ‘most retentive hardware‘ by far.
Outside of OC6, we spoke to a number of developers who told us that they were seeing strong sales on the Quest platform so far.
Some Quality of Life Improvements
In October, Facebook pushed an update for the Quest that vastly improved the latency, quality and stability of TV casting, as well as adding further casting support for even more devices. The aforementioned Passthrough+ announcement from OC6 also launched this month, along with the 3DoF mode and support for select Oculus Go apps.
Beta Begins and New Home Environments
November saw the start of the Oculus Link beta. At launch, Link only supported a few specific USB 3.0 cords — the included cord from the Quest was only USB 2.0 and the official Oculus Link cable had yet to launch. However, provided you had a compatible cord, the Oculus Link beta gave you an official method to play PC VR games on your Oculus Quest.
Facebook also began rolling out support for additional Oculus Home environments for the Oculus Quest this month.
Some Hand-y Christmas Presents
Facebook surprise launched controller-free hand tracking for the Quest as an experimental feature — ahead of the early 2020 date announced at OC6.
The Quest also added a dynamic fixed foveated rendering feature for developers, which they could use to automate the process instead of setting the FFR level manually.
Revenue, VRigade and Cables
The new year kicked off with a Facebook Q4 2019 earnings call, where CFO David Wehner revealed that Facebook’s non-advertising revenue growth was driven by the Oculus Quest. Meanwhile, a game called Crisis VRigade, which Facebook had rejected from the Quest store, became the most downloaded app on SideQuest.
Plus, the official 5m Oculus Link cord from Facebook became available to purchase worldwide, after a soft launch in December for select countries.
Custom Homes, Automatic Hands and Linked Mics
This month saw a smattering of new features for the Quest, including an update to the experimental hand tracking that saw it enable automatically when controllers aren’t detected. Users also discovered a way to install their own custom environments on the Quest this month, allowing for some cool new environments like the Simpsons house or the Game of Thrones throne room.
An important Oculus Link update also rolled out, with Facebook adding support for the Quest’s in-built microphone while using Link.
Meanwhile over on SideQuest, the developers of To The Top launched a paid Quest version of their game on the platform after being rejected from Facebook. The developers stated that the positive reception to the SideQuest release made them feel encouraged to continue work on the game’s sequel.
An app package present in the Quest’s v10 firmware also indicated that a voice-controlled ‘Oculus Assistant‘ would be coming in to the headset in the future.
A Fresh New UI with a Hint of Del Mar
In March, Facebook announced that more than 20 Quest titles had passed the $1 million mark in revenue. A new UI overhaul was also announced and rolled out for the Quest, while researchers figured out a way to use machine learning to essentially give an Oculus Quest 67% more GPU power to work with.
Facebook also leaked a codename for a ‘Del Mar’ headset that could be a Quest successor, along with mentions of new ‘Jedi Controllers’. We also got our hands on the finished version of the VR Power accessory for Quest which both balances out the headset and dramatically extends play time.
AR Environments, Controller Updates and Stats
Last month, developers found code in the Quest Unity SDK that references a shared-space ‘colocation’ API, which would enable multiple Quests to share the same playspace.
The Quest also received an update allowing for a new AR home environment, using the Quest’s passthrough cameras to overlay the menu UI onto an image of your real world environment. As part of the bigger UI overhaul, support was added for developers to show the system menu from within their own VR apps, as a more immersive display option.
The dynamic fixed foveated rendering feature from December also became available in Unity this month.
In terms of content, the headset reached over 170 apps and games available in the Oculus Quest store this month and we broke the numbers down into some interesting stats.
We also got wind of even more leaks from Facebook, indicating that a new Touch controller could feature improvements to tracking, haptics and finger-sensing. Plus, we covered how to make FrankenQuest, the best comfort mod for the Quest which has gained a lot of traction in the last few months.
And here we are in May, a full year on from the initial Quest launch. Still, there’s been a bunch of news and features for the Quest this month, not least of which is the full release of hand tracking for the system, after months in testing as an experimental feature. Waltz of the Wizard, Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets and a new free demo game called Elixir are the first official Oculus Quest store apps to support hand tracking as an input method.
Another huge update to Oculus Link saw support for 2.0 USB cables, including the one that comes in the Oculus Quest box. This new feature essentially means that any Quest now supports PC VR games via Link if the owner has a VR-ready PC.
The v17 Quest system update also brought some more changes to the guardian system – it will now alert you if objects are sitting in your play area during setup and users are also now able to customize the color of their guardian.
Meanwhile, SideQuest is also celebrating its one-year anniversary this month, having reached over 1 million downloads of the app and 500 approved titles on the platform.
Plus, the leaks keep coming – a new report from Bloomberg indicated that an Oculus Quest refresh, feature improved comfort and a higher refresh rate, is on the horizon for a late 2020 or 2021 launch.
When you lay it all out, it’s clear that the Quest had a massive debut year. What were the highlights for you? Let us know in the comments.