Facebook-owned gaming firm Oculus finally revealed its finished Oculus Rift virtual reality system today at a press conference in San Francisco. The sleek headset will ship in early 2016 and is being marketed toward a core audience of gaming aficionados. Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe assuaged fears that strapping on the headset would be a cumbersome, uncomfortable experience. In fact, he said, “It feels like you can just put on a pair of glasses.”
A wireless Xbox One controller and adapter will be included with every Oculus Rift as part of a new alliance between Facebook and Microsoft. Gamers will be able to stream popular titles such as Halo and Forza from their Xbox to Oculus Rift as well. As might be expected, Rift will also be compatible with the forthcoming Windows 10.
The Xbox One controller appears to be a stopgap controller; Oculus founder Palmer Luckey unveiled new, handheld half-moon controllers called “Oculus Touch” that include tracking technology and small micro-joysticks. Fast Company‘s Daniel Terdiman, who is on-site in San Francisco, compared the controllers to “kind of a modern Wii remote.” Oculus Touch, which will ship after the product’s initial launch, will also include haptic technology that will allow it to vibrate and shake. A small cottage industry of third-party companies are also working on sensor-laden alternative controllers for Oculus which include everything from gloves to full-body virtual reality integration systems.
A telling hint of Oculus Rift’s initial focus is the first gamemaker to appear onstage: Hilmar Veigar Petursson, the CEO of Iceland-based CCP Games. CCP are the creators of Eve Online, a spaceship combat game popular with hardcore gamers. Petursson demoed their (impressive) new game, Eve Valkyrie, which he called “the closest you’ll ever get to being a fighter pilot.” Oculus is also committing $10,000,000 towards underwriting indie game development for the platform.
The one piece of important information not announced by Iribe or Luckey? How much Oculus Rift will actually cost to purchase. So stay tuned.
Oculus Rift’s reveal is one of the most eagerly anticipated pieces of tech news in 2015, and comes just ahead of E3–the massive video game industry conference taking place in Los Angeles next week. Oculus and Facebook will aggressively demo the system at the three-day-long event.