Just five days ago we told you about the Immersive Technology Alliance, a group of companies that are working on virtual reality coming together to support the burgeoning medium. At the time, we told you that Oculus VR -- the company behind the Oculus Rift -- was part of the group. That said, the announcement was notoriously missing any official statement from the Oculus folks. As it turns out, that's because Oculus VR isn't actually part of the group. Oculus offered Engadget this statement:
"There was confusion on March 13 about whether Oculus was a member of the Immersive Technology Alliance. We've spoken with the ITA's leadership and clarified that we are not, and have not been, a member of the group. We appreciate the ITA moving so quickly to correct their website and media to reflect this."
We've checked with the other members of the group, many of which responded to confirm their participation in the ITA, including EA and Technical Illusions. During the group's first meeting today at GDC 2014, ITA Executive Director Neil Schneider kicked things off with a lengthy response to Oculus dropping support, heavily tinged with passive-aggressive criticism.
Schneider emailed us a similar statement, which detailed his side of the history between Oculus VR and the ITA (formerly the Stereoscopic 3D Gaming Alliance):
"Before Oculus started their Kickstarter, Oculus and MTBS had an agreement. We would give them free self-promotion on mtbs3D.com which started as the hotbed for Oculus' launch and birthplace. All we asked of them was a basic level membership in the non-profit Stereoscopic 3D Gaming Alliance (S3DGA) valued at $5,000 US. This was conditional on their Kickstarter being successful, which it was. Oculus honored this.
During this formative period, Palmer Luckey has been in the loop on The ITA's development since the beginning of this new movement. We had advisory board discussions through email featuring other members including Oculus VR (Palmer Luckey) and others who don't need to be named. He was even invited to speak at the upcoming meeting, and couldn't make it because of a scheduling conflict, but he said time permitting he was going to try and drop by.
In all our interactions, we have not received a single request to discontinue alliance membership. The Oculus logo has been on the site since they made their first payment some time ago, and they have not communicated to do otherwise. As it stands, we have an alliance of 20+ members. We have every expectation that they will continue to be industry leaders and continue to be part of this alliance."
All that said, that is most certainly one side of the story. Though Oculus' statement on the record comes off as flatly pragmatic, it's clear here that Oculus VR -- the industry standard in VR, at least for now -- isn't interested in participating in the ITA.
Fortunately for the ITA, many other verified members are making really cool products. Technical Illusions' CastAR was the first device shown off at the meeting (after the somewhat awkward Oculus-related intro), and it's clear that many of the folks here aren't simply trying to cash in on VR while it's a hot commodity. The messaging cooled as well, with a YEI Technology rep pointing out that there's room in VR for lots of different ideas, and this first meeting is representative of that. We can't disagree with that.
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