Rival headset will drive interest in virtual reality, claims co-founder Nate Mitchell

Oculus: We welcome Sony’s Project Morpheus

Virtual reality pioneer Oculus VR believes competition from Sony and other companies will improve the chances of success for its own product, the Oculus Rift.

Sony announced Project Morpheus, a virtual reality headset for PlayStation 4, earlier this week during a session at GDC. Speaking to Develop in San Francisco, Oculus co-founder and VP of product Nate Mitchell said he welcomed the new rival.

“We’re super excited to have more companies in this space,” he said. “More developers and more companies investing in virtual reality means more resources put towards games. I think the audience is going to get into VR faster, which means more people to sell to.

“Because that’s really been the ‘Catch 22’ for developers. There are developers who want to make games in VR, but it’s hard to get sign off from their executives because it’s impossible to get the ROI right now. Who are you going to sell to: 50,000 Oculus developers? So with Sony getting in the mix, it really does mean there’s going to be a bigger audience, there’s going to be more people that can buy games.

“Sony, I’m sure – I hope – is going to start funding development, and hopefully some of that comes to the PC side. Even if they stick to PlayStation and we stay on PC, there is no doubt we’ll have more people using VR than ever before in the history of virtual reality, so we’re pretty excited about the whole thing.”

Oculus has been in development for two years after a successful Kickstarter campaign, but so far it is only available as an software development kit and prototype. Earlier this week, Oculus announced a second version of the SDK, although there’s still no word on a commercial release.

Assassin’s Creed publisher Ubisoft declared it would not back Oculus Rift or Sony’s Project Morpheus until hardware sales exceed one million units. But Mitchell is confident that Ubisoft will actually be one of the first major publishers to support the tech.

“Ubisoft has actually been one of the most innovative companies out there,” he said. “They had a big focus on the Wii, and they’ve done a lot of really neat stuff on new hardware platforms.

“Now is not necessarily the time to bet on a company like Ubisoft bringing titles such as Assassin’s Creed to VR, because there’s still only an audience of 50,000 people. But if Sony sells four million VR headsets, and Oculus sells another four million, that’s eight million people you can sell to and all of those people will be enthusiastic about VR – then it’s something companies will know they definitely need to be working on.

“I think Ubisoft will be one of the first people to be working on it, given their track record. I really hope they come over and build something for the Rift, that would be amazing.”

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