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SAN FRANCISCO — The wait for a consumer product from Oculus VR will end this year, according to the company’s chief technology officer.
Oculus VR CTO John Carmack took the stage at the Game Developers Conference to talk about the virtues of his pet project, the Gear VR headset, and he revealed that Oculus and Samsung will release a consumer version of the mobile virtual-reality device before the end of this year. It will hit alongside the next line of Galaxy products from Samsung, and he said this should give developers some time to prepare software for the launch. He also revealed that this consumer product will come with a major media campaign from Samsung that will include commercials and other kinds of promotions.
The Gear VR headset is a phone-holding device that enables people to experience virtual reality without wires or a PC. But it also doesn’t have all of the features of the full Oculus Rift headset, which has extra sensors and cameras that track movement. Carmack said that — because of these shortcomings — Oculus expected people to dislike the Gear VR experience, but he explained that the feedback is exactly the opposite. Carmack said that this version of the device has actually convinced Oculus VR that it doesn’t have to get everything right to build something that consumers will love.
“Although we still want to get everything right,” he said.
Anyone can buy a Gear VR headset right now from stores around the country, but it currently carries the weird “Innovator Edition” label. This was a concession made between Samsung and Oculus after the phone company wanted to “productize” the hardware while Oculus said it wasn’t ready. Since Samsung doesn’t do developer editions, the two companies settled on the Innovator Edition. This is also why Samsung hasn’t done a big marketing push for the Gear VR.
Carmack went on to say that while he knows that “before the end of year” isn’t a lot of time to produce a triple-A game, he knows that most mobile developers are used to working with a short timeframe like that. He also said that anyone who is thinking about making a Gear VR game should also try to build it for PC.
The CTO finally refused to give any details on the consumer launch of the Oculus Rift headset, which is a PC peripheral.