Oculus’ Jason Rubin on Rift and Touch Games “We’re Not Launching a Dev Kit”


The Oculus Rift will land in people’s homes from March 28th and there’ll soon be 1000s of people hunting for new content to play in virtual reality. Oculus is of course keenly aware of this, and Jason Rubin, Head of Oculus Studios, is leading the company’s assault on content. At Oculus’ pre GDC ‘Game Days’ event, he spoke to Road to VR‘s Ben Lang on the 30 strong launch line up, title exclusivity and Oculus Touch content timelines.

See Also: Oculus Names 30 Rift Launch Titles and Their Prices
See Also: Oculus Names 30 Rift Launch Titles and Their Prices

Jason Rubin is a video games industry veteran, if indeed that label isn’t understating things somewhat. Rubin has been involved in games production in one form or another for the last 3 decades. He founded Naughty Dog in the late 80s, a studio which gave rise to games such as Crash Bandicoot and, latterly, the Uncharted series of games on PlayStation. Rubin made the jump to the VR industry in 2014 when he joined Oculus to head up their content production arm Oculus Studios worldwide.

Rubin was of course at Oculus Game Days, held prior and parallel to GDC 2016, and was on hand to outline what the company’s strategy for content has been up to the Rift’s launch, in particular that there could be no launch without strong content support. Oculus announced that 30 titles will be available on day one of the Oculus Rift’s launch with more on the way. Ben Lang caught up with Rubin at Game Day on Sunday to find out a little more about Oculus Studios, what they’ve been up to and their plans for the next year in VR content.

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On the tricky subject of Oculus exclusives, something that’s caused much debate in the community, Rubin elucidated on what he sees as the main types of development relationships Oculus is engaged with for the Rift. “Every game has it’s own relationship,” Rubin says, “One type of game, third party, Ubisoft or you have Project Cars … [they] worked on it on their own, their own money, their own production, they brought it to us at the end – that’s one type.” Ubisoft’s Eagle Flight is a good example of this model, present at Game Day. “You have our indie development fund, which is over ten million dollars. Those are games that are done by indies, 100% indies’ work, but they need a little help and we help them out with that,” so far so clear.

See Also: Preview: ‘Dead & Buried’ Action Packed Multiplayer Could be the Killer App Oculus Touch Needs
See Also: Preview: ‘Dead & Buried’ Action Packed Multiplayer Could be the Killer App Oculus Touch Needs

“Then you have my titles,” Rubin continues, “Oculus Studio titles and those are titles that wouldn’t have existed otherwise that are relatively large titles and we’ve gone to developers that are really interested in VR, who couldn’t fund [the games] themselves, for whatever reason wanted a producer, and we’ve gone and funded a lot of those titles, as I’ve said over 20 of them in 2016. Those titles, because of the amount of production we’ve put in, resources and of course cash, those titles we consider first party titles, even though they’re being done by external studios.” Those titles, games such as Dead and Buried, will remain Oculus and Rift exclusive upon release. However, Rubin was keen to emphasise that Oculus does not own the intellectual property to those titles and any sequels for example are free to adopt any VR platforms.

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There were Oculus Touch titles on show at Game Day, the aforementioned Dead and Buried being one excellent example, but when will Oculus decide that Touch as hardware is ready for launch? “We will not launch it until we feel we have that quality volume of games that justifies a launch, we’re not launching a dev kit.”

Check out the full list of titles Oculus announced for the Rift’s launch yesterday, you can find a list of our coverage of some of those titles there too.

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Based in the UK, Paul has been immersed in interactive entertainment for the best part of 27 years and has followed advances in gaming with a passionate fervour. His obsession with graphical fidelity over the years has had him branded a ‘graphics whore’ (which he views as the highest compliment) more than once and he holds a particular candle for the dream of the ultimate immersive gaming experience. Having followed and been disappointed by the original VR explosion of the 90s, he then founded RiftVR.com to follow the new and exciting prospect of the rebirth of VR in products like the Oculus Rift. Paul joined forces with Ben to help build the new Road to VR in preparation for what he sees as VR’s coming of age over the next few years.
  • Alex

    So the climb is a Rift Exclusive! I’ve been trying to figure this out for ages. Anyone know what the deal is with Adr1ft?

  • George Vieira IV

    At first I thought the title meant there wasn’t going to be a Touch Dev kit. Good interview.

    • SnazzyD

      There won’t be – read the last part again.

      • George Vieira IV

        That wasn’t what he meant by that statement. He was implying that the Touch, that it going to go in sale, is going to be consumer ready. I do suppose that also means there isn’t going to be sale of Dev kits, but I have to think there are Dev kits out there, or else how would anyone develop for them.

        • SnazzyD

          Well, you’d think there would have to be a number of dev kits shared with key developers, but it does send a bit of a mixed message to say “there won’t be dev kits, we’re not releasing this until it’s ready”…when they specifically said they planned to have Touch dev kits available in Q1. That has me wondering how close-to-final the Touch is, and why they aren’t pushing it more actively.

  • Sebastien Mathieu

    adr1ft is a launch title…, lot of Gear VR port, I’ve already played them all….

  • Full_Name

    Ok, nice and clear explanation on the different type of ownership, I think (even if I am not a fan of exclusives).

    The Rift looks really polished, but their issues with motion sickness, apparently somewhat stemming from issues around tracking is disturbing.

    • Do you have any sources on this “motion sickness” caused by “issues around tracking” that is so “disturbing “?

        • This is interesting. I’ve worked with optical tracking of LEDs before (PTZ cameras following a subject wearing a lanyard). I know fluorescent lights drive them bonkers. If I had to guess from the description in the article this is a likely culprit.

          Still, interesting. I’ll have to do some research. A single source is more of a molehill than a mountain, but it does indeed sound “disturbing”.

    • Raphael

      I’ve been using dk2 for a year and don’t have any sickness at all. Haven’t noticed any tracking issues but I can see the laser tracking on vive having some advantages at this time.

    • CMcD

      From my experience the whole seated thing can cause you to feel odd at times (I don’t get motion sick but did feel a little odd with some rolls in Eve Valkyrie.) but when standing and using controllers to represent my hands neither the rift or the vive seem to cause motion sickness, these trick your brain much more effectively. I’m not sure this is so much a rift vs vive issue but more so a standing with motion controls vs seated issue.

  • jlschmugge

    I appreciate Jason’s candidness about Oculus Studio’s strategy, and that this is still early in VR’s lifespan. They are taking a production approach similar to console manufacturers by funding developers and offering production assistance, truly viewing their HMD as a platform and not just a peripheral. I think it will work pretty well, but as there seem to be more HMDs being made, I wonder if sticking to a more open format, and treating an HMD as a peripheral would be the way to go.

  • Zoide

    “This one time, at band camp…”

    • HorrorFreak1408

      i stuck a flute up my pussy

  • Kijutsu

    I don’t care which VR HMD you buy, exclusive games games suck for the customers no matter how you look at it…

    • CMcD

      Yup, but it doesn’t matter if it “sucks”, it’s business and a necessary evil with games going back to the beginning of this entire hobby. I am curious though how long it will take modders to make these rift “exclusives” playable on the vive.

  • Pobrecito hablador

    I concede that Oculus Studio funded games can be exclusive (although not a fan of it), but other cases cannot be justified. Oculus has lost many supporters because of these kind of tactics and dishonest PR. After they were bought by Fecebook I saw this comming and dividing the VR comunity has been one of the worst things they’ve could have done.

  • So Oculus has decided to compete head on with Steam, while not even releasing a dev-kit for their most interesting hardware? They’re going all in on being first to market, and with the bulk of their deliveries now scheduled well into June and July, they won’t realize much benefit from that. It’s a good thing they’ve got Facebook’s deep pockets behind them – they’re going to need them. Of course, there are more than a few of us who’ve reconsidered a Rift purchase on that basis alone.

    I don’t think they’re going to jump the shark before their first season, but they do seem to be on waterskis already…

  • rms

    Great interview. Very interesting to see what is *portrayed* as a ‘conservative’ approach to Touch & game release schedule, vs ‘prototype hardware & demos’. But as Full_Name mentioned, I also noted comments about nausea & rift at GDC and have to wonder if they stem from basic tracking hardware shortcomings. In any case, the interviewer did a good job tactfully skirting around that question without bluntly confronting Rubin.

  • CMcD

    So this pretty much is saying that the only reason the touch controls aren’t out yet is because they want to have some of their motion control games finished for the launch of these controllers. I’m surprised they haven’t teased any of these games yet. Or maybe they have and I’ve missed it? It seems like it would be a good business move to show some of these off right now to woo early adopters over to the rift and away from the vive. Isn’t that the point of exclusives?