THEN HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS?
The gauge of success is about did people who bought it like it and did they not return 100 percent of them. It's as simple as that. If someone bought it and liked it and told their friends about it and thought it was cool? Awesome! If we get it back and everyone's like, "This doesn't work well; I don't like it; it's horrible." Then we know we've got a lot more room to improve than we thought. We think that we've hit the formula, but the idea is that we're able to move VR forward -- "existence-proof," to steal a word from John Carmack. VR exists! Thank goodness it finally exists! We think people are gonna really, really like it, but we know that there's a lot of room to continue to make it better and we will do that.
In terms of some of the product strategy things that you asked about, if I made VR perfectly free today, I had a million-app library and the goggles were free and we gave you a phone, it wouldn't necessarily make the market bigger.
Most people don't really know what VR is; they're not really interested in it. Part of this process is more that 40 years of technology evolution has now allowed for VR to exist, so now we have the hard work of culture. Is VR something I'm interested in? Is this something I want to buy? One of the things we've talked about a lot internally is, you've got a daily TV-viewing habit I assume, and a daily email-checking and Twitter-checking habit, but you don't necessarily have a daily VR habit, right? So part of what the cultural barrier to VR is, [is] how are you going to fit it into your life? Even if you're a "hardcore gamer," what minutes are you going to not use your Xbox or your PS4 or your PC to use this?
AS LONG AS YOU HAVE MORE COMPELLING EXPERIENCES, RIGHT?
Right, but it's got to compete in the 24 hours that everybody is limited by. So, building those behaviors -- even among the enthusiast community -- is really where this is starting. And so is the solution to make VR more mainstream making it cheaper? Or is it making it better? Is it making it better and easier? These are all nuances we'll have to explore as we go forward.
THE WHOLE 'PUTTING A HEADSET ON' THING IS A PRETTY BIG BARRIER
I'm certainly not smart enough to make the headset disappear -- is that more expensive or less expensive? 'Cause I don't even know what that looks like.
WHAT DOES 'INNOVATOR EDITION' MEAN?
A [product] review isn't sort of the target of this outcome, really. It's more about contextualizing that VR really exists for regular people today. Not for 300 million regular people, but regular people. That's the needle we're trying to thread coming out of the gate with this product.
Hopefully it's going to get better really fast. That's part of what we've been trying to get across and hopefully the kind of coverage we're able to get reflects that.
It continues going forward. Really, the partnership starts today.
We have to jointly prioritize what our next immersion technologies are. If you think about they've got head tracking on PC, because your PC has to be fixed somewhere in space. It's easier to have a camera that has head tracking. So head tracking, something that they've been pretty vocal [about], is necessary, but there's a whole bunch of other ones, right? Whether it's spatial audio, whether it's giving you hands like Leap or Nimble, body motion -- no matter what it is, whatever we choose to do, it needs software; it needs hardware; it needs developer engagement; and it needs to be the next thing that the audience of VR feels is missing. Not what any person's random opinion is. It needs to be what unlocks the next level of VR excitement. It really has to be a joint and community decision about what everybody is thinking. We added technology and whether a game developer or some other developer can't figure out how to use that technology in their application, then we probably shouldn't have put it in. So I really think of it being this community-level decision.
Launch apps/games as of December 8th, 2014:
- OOBE/Intro to VR Oculus – Felix and Paul
- Oculus Cinema – Oculus
- 360 Videos – Oculus
- 360 Photos – Oculus
- Herobound – Oculus
- Esper – Coatsink Software
- Bomb Squad – Eric Froemling
- Darknet – E McNeill
- Viral – Fierce Kaiju
- theBlu – Wemo Media, Inc.
- Anshar Wars – OZWE
- Proton Pulse – Zero Transform LLC
- Titans of Space – Drash VR LLC
- Romans From Mars – Sidekick LTD
- Dreadhalls – Sergio Hidalgo
- Ikarus – Uber Entertainment
- Minotaur Rescue VR – Llamasoft, LTD
[This interview was edited for clarity.]