The Oculus Rift was one of our favorite things about last year's E3, so we were even more excited to see it at E3 2014. While both Evan and Wes got to try the new Rift DK2 unit and a trio of demos, they also spoke with Oculus vice president Nate Mitchell about the company's big hires—such as Naughty Dog co-founder Jason Rubin—and big plans for first-party content.
Elite: Dangerous continues to impress. From its intricate trade routes to its unbelievably sexy hyperspace jumps, the future of interstellar freight delivery—or theft—looks bright. A new trailer released especially for E3 shows off system navigation, illegal salvage operations, and an improbable amount of whoosh-whoosh sound effects for a game set in space.
Oculus VR is slowly but surely turning into a sort of videogame industry all-star team. Former Steam boss Jason Holtman signed up last week, and before him the Oculus Rift maker gobbled up John Carmack, Michael Abrash, David MeMartini and a slew of others from some pretty big-name studios. And now that list has grown again with the addition of Naughty Dog co-founder and former THQ President Jason Rubin.
The Electronic Three is nigh. Next week, the entire gaming industry will descend on E3 2014, eager for big announcements at flashy press conferences and as many video games as can fit in LA's massive convention center. There will be new PC games and new PC hardware. That's all expected. But what about the unexpected? What E3 announcements will blow our minds? Is this the year Gabe Newell finally walks onto a stage and says "Half-Life 3 is done, and you can play it right now," and we all leave E3 early?
Probably not. As we psyche ourselves up for E3, the PC Gamer staff have made some wild and not-so-wild predictions about Oculus and Steam Machines and the biggest surprises we'll see at this year's show.
You probably couldn't pick Jason Holtman out of crowd, but he's been a significant player in the PC gaming milieu over the past decade. From mid-2005 until early 2013 he was the director of business development at Valve, and following that he had a brief tenure heading up Microsoft's PC gaming and entertainment strategy. He left that post in January, and now he's landed where everybody seems to be going these days: Oculus VR.
The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is an exciting piece of hardware, and valuable too, judging by the recent $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR by Facebook. Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe referenced that acquisition last month, when he said he envisions reaching "a billion users" with the device by broadening its functionality beyond just gaming. But the top dog at Take-Two Interactive has a different view of things, describing it as "anti-social technology" that will only appeal to core gamers.
Earlier this month, ZeniMax, owner of id Software and John Carmack’s former employer, sent formal notice to Oculus claiming key technology its virtual reality headset relies on were developed by John Carmack while he was still employed by ZeniMax. ZeniMax claimed that only with its help, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey “was able to transform his garage-based pipe dream into a working reality," and it wanted compensation. Today, the company officially filed suit.
What do you get when you mix copious amounts of pizza with in-development virtual reality tech which can trigger motion sickness with prolonged use? A lot of vomit, probably, but also a Chuck E. Cheese Oculus Rift game.
Oculus VR has been hiring some serious talent for the last few months. It nabbed id Software’s John Carmack last year, then Valve’s virtual reality wizards Michael Abrash and Atman Binstock, then it hired a founding member of Halo 4 developer 343 Industries, Kenneth Scott, to be its art director on future first-party titles. Now it can add one more name to what must be a huge orientation meeting: former Google Glass engineer Adrian Wong.
Oculus VR has been on a high-profile hiring spree for the last few months. It nabbed id Software’s John Carmack last year, then Valve’s virtual reality experts Michael Abrash and Atman Binstock, and former Electronic Arts executive David De Martini is helping the company partner with developers of all sizes. We just learned of another high-profile Oculus hire, but this one is a little different than the rest.
When news surfaced that Facebook had agreed to buy up Oculus VR, it became clear the headset maker had big plans for its virtual reality technology. Now we have an idea of just how big. Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe says the Rift headset could potentially serve as the platform for an MMO with "a billion" people, according to a report at The Verge.
Apologies for once again using that one photo of John Carmack wearing his Oculus goggles, but it's pretty much the perfect illustration for this story - if only he was frowning rather than flashing a cheeky grin. So yes: Oculus have responded in a statement to Zenimax's claims that John Carmack took "technology and know-how" belonging to them when he left id Software/Zenimax for Oculus VR - and, blimey, they're not holding back. "We are disappointed but not surprised by Zenimax’s actions and we will prove that all of its claims are false", the statement begins, before providing a full point-by-point rebuttal of Zenimax's assertions. You'll find it below.
ZeniMax Media, which owns id Software and Bethesda Game Studios, sent formal notice to Oculus claiming key technology the virtual reality headset relies on were developed by John Carmack while he was still employed by at ZeniMax. ZeniMax claims that only with its help, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey “was able to transform his garage-based pipe dream into a working reality," and now it wants compensation.
The second major permutation of the virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift DK2, has reportedly sold 25,000 units since its pre-order page went live on March 19. After only a month, that number is almost half of what the first development kit, the DK1, sold in its lifetime. Aside from a few tweets and forum comments, this is the first hard news from inside Oculus VR since the company was infamously purchased by Facebook last month.
World of Tanks is a game about tanks. As such, it seems safe to assume that its players like tanks. Maybe they even like tanks enough to want to be a tank; or at least experience the virtual reality approximation of being a tank. According to Wargaming.net CEO Victor Kislyi, that could happen, but only if the numbers add up. In an interview with CVG, the World of Tanks boss said that, while he's interested in the tech, the Oculus Rift would need to sell around 5-10 million units to justify native support. It's worth watching the interview, embedded inside, not just for the Oculus discussion, but also to hear Kislyi use the phrase "magicians of experience".
Every Tuesday Andy straps on the Oculus Rift and dives headfirst into the world of virtual reality. Is it really the future of PC gaming? Let’s find out.
Now that the Facebook buyout story is yesterday’s chip paper, everyone has stopped talking about Oculus Rift. Not me, though. The headset is a permanent fixture on my desk, and I’m always keeping my eye on sites like RiftEnabled and Oculus VR Share for new demos to try. It’s a minefield, though. The open nature of the hardware means there’s a lot of crap out there in Rift land, but it’s amazing that most of the good ones I feature in The Rift Report are made by one person in their spare. Imagine what a team of 100 developers with a blockbuster budget could do.
Virtual reality, SteamOS, fiber broadband, 4K displays, holodecks (you know, maybe)—the next five years of PC gaming will radically transform our immortal hobby. What new experiences will the PC games of the near future provide? How will technology surprise us? This April at PAX East 2014, we'll look into that glowing future with the innovators and PC gaming stakeholders shaping it.
The fury over Oculus VR’s acquisition by social media giant Facebook seems to have fallen to a low simmer as the raw emotion has a chance to cool. Another factor: we don’t really have any more information now than we did the day after the news broke. Aside from Oculus founder Palmer Luckey’s increasingly futile defense on reddit, no one inside the deal has spoken up. Now, development legend John Carmack, who famously left his position at Id software to work as Oculus’s chief technology officer, has spoken up for the first time.