A hurricane hit GDC last week and her name was Vive. No one knows how to pronounce the name yet and while everyone has heard of Valve, few know the Taiwanese company HTC whose name is actually on the product. The news sent the VR community into a frenzy. Some have called for a mass exodus from the Oculus subreddit. Some have declared Oculus dead. Some poor souls have been convinced VR will once again slink back into the shadows. Where did this negative energy come from?
The frustration has been building. The Facebook acquisition soured the palates of many gamers. Some called Palmer a sellout at the time and the complaints run long and deep. I suspect it has something to do with a combination of Farmville, hatred of the Man and the constant reminder that other peoples’ [photoshopped] lives are more exciting than yours. Then there’s the constant tease of development kits. Everyone is afraid of DK3 dropping, thereby delaying the coming of Christ for another year or two. There are other gripes and many are valid. I myself still wonder why Apple hasn’t swooped in and made everything 18k gold.
In all seriousness, there is a simple reason why there’s a rift in the space-time continuum: there are two visions for the future of VR. One where it’s a next-generation gaming system with melt-your-face-off Presence™ and another where it’s truly the last medium. One where gamers get to reap the benefits of supporting a kickstarter that will finally morph into a big present come December 25th and another where we’re introducing humanity to a transformational technology (bigger than Mobile and maybe bigger than the Internet) so it’s a virtue to be patient. One primarily focuses on games and another which puts games on equal footing with apps and experiences.
Both visions are great for VR. Valve seems to share one and Oculus the other. And by the looks of it, it won’t be long before some solid products hit the mass market. There’s no need for fanboy battle royales and it’s vital that we continue to build a strong positive community. After all, we’re the ones building the Metaverse.