Oculus Start aims to lessen the burden on aspiring VR developers

The company's first developer program offers free hardware and plenty of support.
Nathan Ingraham
N. Ingraham|01.18.18

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Steve Marcus / Reuters
Steve Marcus / Reuters

Virtual reality is still a relatively new format, so there's a huge need for compelling content to drive adoption. As such, today Oculus is announcing its new developer-focused program called Start. This is a free program that's meant to make it easier and more cost-efficient to get VR apps built and distributed to customers. For starters, the company is highlighting three different facets of Start: access, support and savings.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the program is "access," which provides registered developers with development kits for "new and existing hardware," as well as early beta access to new tools and services. Specifically, developers can request for an Oculus Rift or Oculus Go when they apply, and they'll be able to pick the wireless Santa Cruz kit when it is ready to go.

Oculus did a survey of its developers and found that 50 percent are self-funded, so any access to hardware development kits for those will certainly be appreciated. It sounds like members of the Oculus Start program will also gain access to the company's industry events like Oculus Connect.

Oculus is also offering developers more support -- they'll get five support instances from the company every year, and Oculus says it'll also let members meet with VR staffers one-on-one at various local events. Finally, the "savings" part of the program gives registered members a free one-year Unity Plus license or a royalty-free Unreal license, whichever platform they prefer.

Developers will have to meet a few guidelines to get into the program. They'll need to have published something that shows a commitment and intent to build for the platform, be it a full app or something like a quick demo on Steam. Aside from that, companies can only have two developers from the same team applying, and they can't have raised more than $10,000 in funding or crowdsourcing -- it's truly for new players to the scene.

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