Virtuix's Omni Treadmill virtual reality appliance at CES 2015

Above: Virtuix’s Omni Treadmill virtual reality appliance at CES 2015

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: As you’re starting to see sales coming in for the Gear VR, and some of your competitors are starting to roll out, are you starting to get a sense of where things will be with price? Or is that something that you’ve known for a while?

Mitchell: We’ve known the price for a while. We’re still targeting that $300-$400 price point. DK2 was $350. We want to be in that same ballpark for the consumer Rift. I can say that it’s challenging, especially when you start to talk about — OK, what does input look like? How does that integrate into the system?

A good consumer VR system is going to cost — look at Gear VR. All up, it’s about $1,000 if you go for it without a phone carrier subsidy, and a $200 piece of hardware. With Rift, these are expensive units — DK2 is $350 — but for a high-end PC add $800, $900. You’re even higher than Gear VR. That’s the ballpark we’re going to be in for these first units, whether it’s mobile or PC. You’ll be above $1,000 all up for a great system, a great experience. The headset itself will be $300 or $400.

GamesBeat: Are you close to locking system specs down?


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Mitchell: In terms of the mid-spec machine, I was talking about that last night. We’re not close to locking them down. We’re close in the sense that we have a pretty good idea of what we think the system specs should be. But we haven’t gone out to developers and said, “Here are the min specs we’re targeting for CV1.” That’s a good benchmark, a good inflection point. When we’re telling developers, that’s when it’s locked down. We’re not quite there.

But with the Crescent Bay demos, these are running on high-end Nvidia 980s. You can expect it to be in that ballpark to start and we’ll see where it goes from there. It could be a bit lower or higher. But if you extrapolate out on the Nvidia line, we might be in that same range. We try to be up front about what systems we’re running on today. Pretty much every show we’ve shown up with the highest-end graphics card we can find, because we’re pushing so many frames through it. 90Hz at that resolution in stereo is hard.

GamesBeat: How is your content pipeline coming along at this point?

Mitchell: It’s coming along well. It’s one of the biggest challenges we have. You have this problem where the audience doesn’t have a good sense of the content and the content has no audience. It’s something we continue to invest in. Jason Rubin we brought around in the E3 timeframe to lead our studios effort. He’s doing a lot of internal studio development and external publishing deals.

Gear VR is a great litmus test. You buy Gear VR and drop into the Oculus store, you can see there’s a diverse array of content. We have some big names in there, some indies in there. We have different types of experiences. It’s not all just action and 360-degree experiences.

There’s a huge amount of content waiting for commerce, as I say. That’s one of the things missing from Innovator Edition at launch. All the content on Gear VR is free. On PC and on mobile, aligned with all that, developers need a way to distribute their content, make money, and be successful. We’re committed to that. We want Oculus to be the best VR platform around. As that stuff comes online, you’ll see more and more companies coming into the space. Gear VR has done well. It’s sold out. We’re moving units there. As CV1 comes online, you’ll see more and more developers jump in.

Samsung Gear VR

Above: Samsung Gear VR

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: Do you have hard numbers for Gear VR?

Mitchell: No. Samsung products are Samsung numbers. Samsung manufactures it, so it’s their product.

GamesBeat: Will you support Razer’s announcement of Open-Source Virtual Reality?

Mitchell: We are not supporting that. That’s not an official stance. The first I heard about it is yesterday morning. I think I’d seen OSVR previously, but I didn’t know anything about Razer announcing a hacker development kit. It was all news to me. I sent it to Palmer and said, “Hey, have you seen this?” “Nope.”

Overall, in terms of the specification, that’s the right way to go long term. In the short term, you need multiple VR headsets out there that are mature as far as feature set before that kind of thing is really warranted. To give an example that’s resonated in the past, we had different SDKs for mobile and PC internally. We don’t use the same specifications for our own systems internally. That’s because they’re so different. If you talk to Palmer, he’ll say that mobile is more like Vita, PC is more like PlayStation. We don’t have the same SDK for both. They’re different systems with different challenges and different features.

Rather than have anyone slow down and try to align inside of Oculus, we have to go. We have to innovate. We want to keep moving. Spending a bunch of time trying to align–That’s true across the entire industry. I don’t know how they’re going to build an open specification for so many different input devices either. It seems like a hornet’s nest to me.

In the long term, when the time is right for a specification, we’ll be there. But we’re still far away. We need a couple great headsets, a couple great input devices out there. You want to see Morpheus and the Rift and Gear VR come out. You want them to mature. As they all start to align over the next few years, that’s when a specification makes sense. In the meantime developers are targeting the lowest common denominator. They’re not leveraging all the features of the high-end headsets. It becomes a bad experience for everyone. It’ll end up poisoning the VR well for people. That’s not to say OSVR is all those things. But we want developers targeting our SDK — not to own the platform, but to leverage everything and do the integration right. That’s the only way you’ll be able to develop a great experience.