Epic’s Tim Sweeney Discusses The Launch of Modern VR and Oculus Exclusives

by David Jagneaux • July 14th, 2016

Tim Sweeney is one of the most outspoken and intelligent voices in the game industry. He’s been around for decades, co-founded and helped build Epic Games and the Unreal Engine, and continues to contribute to the evolution of video games and VR.

Back during GDC, we spoke with Sweeney about the current state of the VR industry and how he thinks his own Unreal Engine stacks up to its chief competition, the easier and more accessible Unity. Ultimately, he’s fine with being in second place in terms of volume of users since Unreal garners the attention and respect from many of the industry’s biggest names.

Gear of War 3

Sweeney has always been passionate about VR, going as far as to say it’s “going to change the world” in a previous interview and the Unreal Engine, along with its inventive VR editor, is a big part of that.

Now, more recently, Tim Sweeney spoke with GameSpot about the ongoing debate about the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) including its closed nature and vision for a walled future, as well as what he thought about the controversy surrounding the concept of Oculus exclusives. Surprisingly, his stances on the two matters don’t seem all too compatible.

Speaking first about the VR specialist’s own decision to ask users to opt-in to playing third-party content not bought through Oculus Home, Sweeney remained consistent with his previous criticism. He noted that the move was bound to annoy customers as “PC gamers aren’t idiots”, calling Valve’s Gabe Newell the “smartest person in the PC industry” for recognizing as much. “Everybody wants to have control over the computer,” Sweeney said. “They want to have complete freedom to install anything from any source. They don’t want any company’s product forcing them to do things against their will.”

The legendary developer later said that he believed it would be “really valuable” if Oculus re-positioned Home to become a much more open platform.

Turning to the ever-controversial topic of Oculus exclusives, Sweeney actually stuck up for the company. He called the move a “perfectly valid business model”, citing the success of both the PlayStation and Xbox consoles as a good case study. He boldly stated: “I think we’re better off with them than with the alternative of not having those games and having a completely non-exclusive set of ecosystems.”

Epic Games itself is no stranger to exclusive content, having previously created the first four Gears of War games for Microsoft. As Sweeney says, PC gamers certainly aren’t idiots, but he doesn’t agree with many of them on this topic.

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