Oculus VR, one of the largest virtual-reality (VR) companies in the world, bought by Facebook for $2 billion last year, has unveiled the final version of its flagship gadget – called Oculus Rift – set to hit the stores in early 2016.
During an event in San Francisco, California, this Thursday, June 11, CEO Brendan Iribe said the headset will come bundled with an Xbox One controller, turning the two devices into a joint gaming unit.
The consumer version of the Rift will have a movement-tracking camera, used to interpreted the user‘s actions and provide a more immersive experience. The deal with Microsoft also means that Oculus owners will be able to stream Xbox One games into their headset by connecting it to a PC running on Windows 10.
The company also announced it’s working on a pair of hand controllers, named Oculus Touch, designed to bring more realistic hand motions to virtual-reality game-worlds that will allow users to interact with the environment in a more natural way.
While there currently are no plans to make Xbox games specifically for the Rift, Microsoft has promised it will make the entire catalogue of the console, including the latest upcoming titles like Halo 5: Guardians, available for streaming.
The headset is rumoured to go for about $1.500 at retail and will only work with Windows – neither of the two companies gave any hints at plugging it directly into the console anytime soon.
As regards competition, Oculus will go head to head with at least two other virtual-reality headsets about to make an appearance on the scene at the end of the year or in early 2016 – Sony’s Morpheus and Valve’s Vive.
Each company will offer a different take on virtual-reality, with Sony focusing primarily on its PlayStation 4 and Valve betting on its specialized lasers and controllers to bring titles exclusive to the device.
Despite all the attention, most experts claim VR-enabled technology is unlikely to be purchased by regular consumers at its start, which is why all three contenders are currently focusing on gamers – a natural audience for novel virtual experiences.
“We consider virtual reality has the potential to be one of the most disruptive technologies for a decade,” said Ben Wood, an analyst at CCS Insight. “You only have to look at the huge investments being made by companies like Facebook, Google, HTC, Sony and many others to realise we are on the cusp of something huge.”
Video gaming is almost certain to be the main area of competition for the companies, and Oculus claims it will allocate around $10 million on spurring independent developers to create games for the platform.
“They’re all going to be competing hard for those developers to support their platforms – that’s where you’re going to see the real competition,” said Gartner analyst Brian Blau. “Games developers are going to have a lot of difficult choices to make.”