The Codex

Oculus Quest in a phrase - Game Changer

Oculus has created a major buzz in the past couple of days along with it's announcement of the new Oculus Quest headset at the Oculus Connect 5 event. Featured in the video is a re-imagined game called Dead & Buried Arena. A shoot'em up that was originally a game about being a cowboy in a ghost town taking out the local's. Well zombies. It's a fun and immersive game but Oculus has taken it to the next level with the Oculus Quest. Now you can play in a free-roam arena style format in true multiplayer fashion only seen in VR Arcades. The device is positioned to cause a major disruption to the VR industry. Not because of the "shiny new-ness" but what it represents.

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In short, the headset will feature a host of features mostly only available on high-end headsets (i.e. Rift & Vive) but at a price point more affordable to the average consumer. As of now, to gain entry in the bustling VR world of experiences, unless you travel to the low end of VR, and it is pretty low, you have to pay in excess of hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars. To dabble in any high-end games and experiences, going the console gaming route with PlaystationVR, you of course have the buy the console itself ($299.99) then the PSVR bundle with controllers, headset, and sensor/camera bar ($399.99). Playstation VR isn't the best out there but it's fun and very re-playable since the console has tons of games and developers making more all the time. It has its faults and it's mostly for seated play but works well. 

If you are looking for more of a higher quality and more immersive experience, you have to look to the PC which, to get something VR capable, you're looking at paying at minimum $800-$1000+ for just the tower. Then add an additional $299-$400 if you go with the Oculus Rift or a Microsoft Mixed Reality headset bundle with controllers and sensors ($499.00 for the HTC Vive). Now this configuration gives you way more freedom to move around in your games (termed room-scale) but at those price points, it a bit more restrictive in who will actually purchase it. That factor alone is a huge reason why the home consumer VR market has slowed tremendously but yet the location-based entertainment (LBE) market has exploded. VR Arcades have become the new rage and are here to stay (for a good while at least) since now you can experience high-end VR for only $20-$30 a pop for a 15-30 min experience depending on the game.

For others who don't want to pay that kind of money for a console or PC to get into VR have gone the mobile route. Going with the Samsung Gear VR, adjust the price point back up to a whopping $600-$800 (for the Samsung S8 or S9 but will work on the S6 & S7 for cheaper $$) since you have to purchase the Android based phone then puroculus-go.jpegchase the headset bundle ($129.99) that contains the headset and controller. Going the Google Daydream route gives a bit more versatility due to it working with a myriad of Android based phones but the quality is less than stellar. Often putting off consumers from playing it more than a few times due to producing motion sickness because of low hardware requirements in the phone and bad refresh rates.

Oculus just within the past year had release its jump into the mobile gaming world with the Oculus GO. The GO has taken quite of bit of market share due to it being a standalone headset. This means for the price of the headset alone, you get everything. The controller and headset is all you need for Gear VR quality content and uses the same content store but you don't need to buy or use a separate phone now. It's all built into the unit. There are a few other options at this level as well with relative costs such as the Pico & Lenovo Mirage Solo. But these headset limit you back to only 3 degrees of freedom. So you can look up and down. Left to right. But you can't move forward and back, ducking and leaning. Fun but not very immersive.

Which brings us to why the Oculus Quest could very well become the current top selling headset of all time when it's released in spring of 2019. The headset boast of 6Dof (thats 6 degrees of freedom). So you can move around just like in the higher-end headsets. It's also contains 4 camera sensors for inside-out tracking. Now , just like the Windows Mixed Reality Headsets (WMRs) you don't have to have sensors all over the place to track your body movement. The headset does it for you. The controllers are also 6DoF, so they work just like the Rift's and are just as natural to use and since the headset does the tracking, you can see your hands which almost everyone that has ever tried VR looks for first. Finally couple this with the fact that you can scan multiple rooms and the headset will keep track of them, has multiplayer capability, and an augmented reality element so the cameras can overlay objects in the real world and doesn't require a high cost PC or console to play. All I can say is you are going to hear the term "Game-Changer" often in the next several months.

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Now for the cherry on top. Cost of entry, $399. The headset is positioning to shift the paradigm back to the home consumer market as this will entice even the most reserved of players into a world of immersive and interactive VR. There definitely will be a change in how people look at getting into VR and I really believe this will be a catalyst.


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