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Jason Rubin was skeptical about the new Oculus virtual reality head-mounted display before he even threw on a pair for the first time nearly two years ago. But now he’s sure the gadget is here to stay.
The new head of Oculus VR’s worldwide studios — the group that spearheads content creation for the company’s Oculus Rift VR headset — spoke with MTV Network’s Geoff Keighley during a chat session at GamesBeat 2015 about the future of VR and what it took to convince video game developers that this is the next big thing.
Rubin, the former THQ president and co-founder of Naughty Dog (the game studio behind hits such as platforming game Crash Bandicoot and the Indiana Jones-like Uncharted franchise), said he was given a list of challenges the company would face before going into VR but overlooked it with a “bring it on” attitude.
He said he convinced developers to make games for the company by reminding them of how most of the gaming industry ignored touchscreen mobile games six years ago. The few developers who didn’t, including Rovio Entertainment, had to fail a few times before they found success.
“There was a lot of trial and error at Rovio, a lot of bad games before they made Angry Birds. What they learned gave them the ability to get there,” Rubin said. “If you believe (VR) is inevitable… getting in early and failing a few times is the best way to give it a shot at the gold rush in the industry.”
Another way Rubin was able to convince developers to lean toward VR was to let them actually try it.
“The minute you do that, they want to do it, and the most important indication of the success of VR today is the fact that every single developer that I’ve signed at Oculus has asked me to do a second title,” Rubin said.
At Oculus, Rubin said they have a production group working on what he called “lighthouse titles that Oculus is funding and working on.” Rubin said it’s allowed Oculus to share practices with community developers and explore all the possibilities VR brings to the table.
Rubin confirmed Oculus has worked on a pair of sports games (football and hockey) as well as tabletop games, real-time strategy, first-person adventures like Chronos and third-person games such as Insomniac’s Edge of Nowhere.
“When you’re playing a game and looking down as a giant on a tabletop, you really feel like it’s your little universe you’re in,” Rubin said.
He’s also excited about the possibilities of the Oculus Touch Controller, the Nintendo Wii Remote-like devices that gives users the ability to reach out into open space and see their hands right in front of them. Oculus users will be able to point and give a thumbs up.
And since Facebook owns Oculus, Rubin said he believed that social will be a big part of VR’s future. He confirmed there are test versions of a tabletop tennis game using 3D visuals and sounds, which are good to go.
“We have demos right now where I can point over there and they’ll turn around and look at what I’m pointing at even though we could be on different continents or it could be different directions,” Rubin said.
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