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After Facebook successfully released Oculus Quest as a standalone VR entertainment and gaming platform, selling out over the 2019 holiday season, the days appeared to be numbered for its less capable entry-level alternative Oculus Go. Today, following a post-holiday price drop to $149, the company officially pulled the plug on Go, leaving Oculus with only two current VR devices: Quest, which now also supports PC tethering, and the fully PC-dependent Rift S.
Facebook is positioning Go’s discontinuation as going “all-in” on headsets with 6DOF (six degree of freedom) tracking, capable of sensing a player’s movements through physical space rather than the simpler position- and angle-limited 3DOF system used by Go. “We won’t be shipping any more 3DOF products,” the company says, noting that sales of Go will end this year “as we double down on improving our offerings for Quest and Rift.”
Although Facebook has committed to providing some level of support for the Go platform, there were hints last year that it didn’t have much of a future. Last July, then-Oculus CTO John Carmack said that the company would add a Go emulation mode to the newer Quest headset, while noting that developers would be able to convert “older apps” to run on the more advanced platform. Soon thereafter, Facebook’s development partner Xiaomi reportedly disbanded the team behind the Mi VR headset, which was Oculus Go-branded elsewhere, though Facebook said in August that it was still producing and selling Go units.
Go headsets will continue to work once sales end this year, and there will be bug fixes and security patches for Go’s system software through 2022. But there will be no new Go features, and developer app submissions will be stopped after December 4, 2020; the final Go apps will hit the Oculus Store on or before December 18, 2020.
To placate Go developers who were accustomed to enjoying greater publishing freedom on the entry-level platform than Quest, Facebook also notes that it will alter Quest’s controversial curation mandates in early 2021. At that point, it will provide an official way for developers to distribute Quest apps without sideloading or using the Oculus Store, enabling Go apps (and others) to be offered for Quest without participating in Facebook’s formal approval process. There will also be a dedicated business channel for the Oculus for Business program, enabling enterprises to distribute apps across multiple headsets. Additional details on the programs are scarce, but available to developers here.
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