SUPERHOT VR Dev Responds to Oculus Exclusivity Criticism, Free to Kickstarter Backers

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One of the earlier titles to be used by Oculus to demonstrate the potential of virtual realit gaming SUPERHOT is to be completely reworked for a new VR specific version that’s built for motion controls, and in particular Oculus Touch, from the ground up.

As hackneyed as it may be, one of my sincerest wishes for virtual reality gaming is that at some point, a game would come along that allowed me to be Neo from The Matrix, and use my powers as ‘The One’ to bend reality to my will and in particular to experience ‘Bullet Time’. SUPERHOT is the game that has come the closest to fulfilling that wish so far, and the good news is that the developers are working hard to do that fantasy justice, having announced that there will be a new, VR specific version of the title rebuilt for motion controls, and more specifically Oculus Touch.

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The premise of SUPERHOT is straightforward to understand whilst playing, rather more difficult to describe in words. To boil it down though, you advance against a series of enemies, and whilst you’re not moving, your gameworld remains in slow motion – a state of bullet time perpetuity if you like. Bullets from assailants weapons glide towards you sluggishly, including those fired by you at them, allowing you to assess your path through the area and plot how you’re going to take those enemies out. The twist? As soon as you move your head, the world switches to real time and stays that way until you stop moving. That is the essence of SUPERHOT and an example of how a strong simple, single, elegant mechanic can be good enough to build an entire game around. SUPERHOT on the surface then is an action game, but you soon realise that elements of strategy and even puzzle solving come into play as you dodge and weave your way through the whizzing bullets. You are, in essence, choreographing your own lethal action sequence again and again.

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Recently SUPERHOT teased that they were working on bringing the title to VR proper and that they’d struck a deal with Oculus, part of which means the game would become an Oculus exclusive title “for now” and include support for Oculus’ forthcoming motion controls Touch. “We’re now working super close with the guys at Oculus to release SUPERHOT VR later this year,” said developer Szymon Krukowski. “We’re really trying to capitalize on all of the new design possibilities that Virtual Reality is giving us. The level of game immersion that you get from playing SUPERHOT in VR is simply crazy.”

See Also: Hands-on: Oculus Touch 2016 Prototype Brings Refinements to an Already Elegant Design
See Also: Oculus Touch Launch Lineup Will Top 30 Games, ‘Oculus Medium’ Bundled

As you may be aware (or perhaps you’re fortunate enough not to be) that Oculus’ approach to building its proprietary content portal Home and encouraging developers to build Oculus-only titles to appear exclusively for the Rift has caused much anger in the hardcore VR community and beyond. Some believe that Oculus providing financial assistance to developers to encourage them to build games for VR in exchange for timed or permanent exclusivity, that so the title works only on the Rift and not, for example, on the rival HTC Vive, is anti-consumer and damages virtual reality in the long run. The SUPERHOT developers catching some considerable flack in the wake of their exclusivity announcement as a result.

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Now, in an enjoyably irreverent blog post, the developers have clarified their reasoning for this approach and detailed that the new title, SUPERHOT VR, will not be a lazy port of the original, but a completely reworked title built for the Oculus Touch motion controllers. “We never compromised on design. We sure as hell weren’t going to start by halfheartedly adding poor VR support to SUPERHOT and calling it a day. We started drafting a plan to spin up a SUPERHOT VR team and we did some rudimentary budgeting for a year-long intensive project.” This is of course great news for SUPERHOT and VR fans alike. The mantra that VR games cannot be treated as afterthoughts is now well established, and rightly so.

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But what of that exclusivity deal with Oculus? “The budget was waaaay too scary for our indie studio’s thirst for survival. We wouldn’t be able to make it without diverting resources from all the other crazy stuff we’re creating in the SUPERHOT universe,” the developer states, “Towards the end of last year, we rang up Oculus and pitched to team up – to pool together enough resources and VR design knowhow; to give us a shot at fleshing out a fully fledged, no-compromise SUPERHOT VR. A couple of weeks later, we already had our first full time VR dev happily coding away, and we had enough runway in the budget to keep us from having to cut the project short.”

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It’s doubtful that those statements, as well reasoned and understandable as they may be, will do much to quench the flame wars from those who believe VR gaming should treat the PC as one unified platform, avoiding market fragmentation through these sorts of deals which result in those opting for one headset unable to play titles developed for the other. But frankly, in SUPERHOT’s case at least, it seems to make complete sense and if the net result of said deal is that we get a great VR title as opposed to none at all, it seems like a positive move. Besides, the developers have indicated that this exclusivity may not be permanent.

The final criticism levied at the developers was the assumption that this new Oculus exclusive title would mean that backers of SUPERHOT’s original Kickstarter campaign, who were promised VR support, would be left out in the cold, having to buy the game seperately. However, in a note at the end of the new blog post, the developer states “Oh, and we’ll be giving keys for SUPERHOT VR to all of our Kickstarter and preorder friends and backers. :)” – good news for those concerned then.

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No firm release date for SUPERHOT VR is yet available, but the developers are stating “Winter 2016” currently. For Oculus, SUPERHOT VR joins the ranks of the 30 strong lineup they’re building for the launch of their Touch motion controllers, set for release in the 2nd half of 2016.

As for the raging debate on VR exclusivity, we’ll be looking much more closely at the subject in a forthcoming feature article. Stay tuned.

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  • Raphael

    LOL. Look at the recent negatives it has on Steam because of the Oculus lock-down!

  • Sapien

    Paul – you are taking too much at face value, in stead of being just a little skeptical (which you as a journalist should be).
    How come these developers, who have taken the Facebook/Oculus money, have such a hard time developing for both Rift and Vive, that the best they can do is to maybe release a Vive version months after the launch of “Touch”. And at the same time, a single enthusiast, that isn’t even paid can make a wrapper (Revive) that works on all Oculus exclusives.

    • Tehen

      Is there any exemple of Revive working with Oculus Touch games?

      • Sapien

        Which Touch game has been released at this point in time?
        From a programming point of view, I can not see why it should be difficult to remap the controls/buttons.
        Valve already supports both Touch and Vive in SteamVR.

  • sleeplessinva

    It makes so much sense to lock yourself into a particular platform when that platform can’t even deliver the hardware to the people that have already paid for it. If you look at how Bungie negotiated their exclusivity deal with Sony, the PS4 were already in people’s hands and there were no shortage in stock let alone supply chain issues. If you wanted the “best” Destiny experience without waiting around, you had to go the route of Sony. This of course increased the sales for Sony and continued to bolster the sales for Bungie/Activison.

    Take the situation with Superhot and Oculus. Superhot claims that the budget for their title goals were going to be too much for a company their size so they had to strike a deal with Oculus to get funding. Given the current problem with Oculus and their continued shipping delays the team from Superhot bought themselves more time on their development schedule because had this deal been made prior and the game was already set for release, then they would have effectively shot themselves in the virtual foot because fans that would have paid for the game on the Oculus platform can’t buy the game because they don’t have the hardware (lost sales) and the people with deep pockets that have the Vive can’t buy the game because it is a Oculus exclusive (lost sales).

    I guess instead of losing out on sales, you’ve just only pissed off your fan base and hope that somehow that game is absolutely bonkers that you can re-capture the magic and rebuild your fan base because you only get one shot at making a first impression.

    • Tehen

      As far as I know, we still do not know the exact number of Vive or RIft that have been ordered/sold/sent.

      If you have numbers, please share them with us.

    • iceblast

      Oculus will be pretty much caught up in July on all preorders.

      This race isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

      You for some reason think Oculus is in trouble, and in danger of failing. Far from the truth. These are all early adopter problems.

      After Touch comes out, with it’s 30 full motion controller games, and also, being about to play all Vive games. The balance will shift, and people will reassess the Rift.

      • Maxwell Stein

        Yes, people’s views are too skewed atm, and IMPO, both VR headsets, the Vive and the Oculus came out way too quick. In the end, it will be like buying a computer, you will have many choices of brands and all do the same. Like you said, just atm its very new. All and all, time, time is all we need. . . .and patience. . .

        • iceblast

          I’m not sure that’s true, about them all doing the same thing.

          The next Gen could have some very different featured headsets, and controls. There are lots of variables, it will all depend on what each of them comes up with.

          But Generally, they will be playing the same games, you just might get better experiences out one headset verses another. Right now though, they are very similar.

          It’s all going to depend on who’s R&D is better.

          • Maxwell Stein

            That is what I meant, as in right now they are similar. We do not know what the future holds.

    • DM

      You are talking about the first ever backers waiting a maximum 6 months from the Jan pre-order date until June, once retail kits are fully available this is a non-issue.

      Plenty of VR users backed the Superhot kickstarter purely for VR knowing it would be a while before we would get to play it in VR, in the meantime we still got to play the original release.

      Once they re-release the game fully for Touch the initial Oculus shipping issues will be long gone.

  • brandon9271

    I don’t own a Vive or a Rift but every time i see ‘Oculus exclusive’ it makes me want to buy the Vive even more. Oculus just needs to publish VR content, take their cut off the money and make it work on whatever damn HMD they can. This is shady business and it’s tarnishing their reputation.. You can buy games for both Rift and Vive on Steam. That’s where I’ll take my money.

    • Maxwell Stein

      You aren’t serious, are you? From your logic, you would NOT buy from Nintendo because Mario is only ON Nintendo. G.G. You really think that?

      • brandon9271

        A VR HMD is a peripheral. It’s not a platform. The platform is PC and it’s open. If Microsoft told me i could only play their games if i owned a Microsoft branded keyboard and mouse I’d be pissed.

        • Maxwell Stein

          To say it is like a mouse or keyboard is not only insulting, and not true by any means. The thing to keep in mind is that this is a new thing, a new venue. So i personally think it is both a platform and a peripheral. This is untested waters to say the least, and to only say it is a peripheral is close minded. You cannot view a world in stereoscopic 3D on your keyboard.

          • brandon9271

            Oculus SDK will eventually fade away and be a relic just like Glide API as more HMDs come to market and adopt an open standard. I personal don’t see Oculus Home ever competing with Steam in a significant. If Oculus adopted an open standard then all VR users could log into Oculus Home and their service would grow much faster.

          • Maxwell Stein

            I am not sure what you are getting at. Are you saying because the Oculus Store is for the Oculus only that it will make it fade? You do realize that the Oculus Rift works perfectly with SteamVR? And when the Touch controllers come out, you can then use them instead of the Vive Controllers? Platform or company specific programs are nothing new, and I have used both and, the Vive is good, but the screens create this screen door effect, that isn’t there on the Oculus. So you can’t play an Oculus game on the Vive, deal with it, or, idk, BUY THE OCULUS?! Also, I highly doubt that the Oculus is trying to compete with Steam, especially when they allow Steam to work in it. . . . .

            Edit: Oh, the Oculus Home Store is STILL in beta . . .

          • brandon9271

            What I’m saying is, an open API will win. There will be something like OpenGL or DirectX that all HMD makers adopt and all VR software devs will also adopt. There will be no exclusivity. Oculus just needs to worry about selling the games they publish to as many people as possible and not try to fragment the VR userbase. It isn’t good business sense and it’s not consumer-friendly either.

          • Maxwell Stein

            I am still not sure what you are getting at. You can openly create games for the Oculus and matter of fact the Oculus website has assets you can download. If you think they are trying to, as you say, “fragment the VR userbase” thats not what they are doing. And if you really think that, you need to get your head straight. At this stage in the game, as early as it is to make assumptions like that is highly illogical.

          • Timothy Lim

            Imagine having to buy a Monitor from Asus (For example) for a specific game,
            THAT is what oculus is trying to do.

          • GetOverIt

            Imagine having to buy a Console from Nintendo (For example) for a specific game,
            THAT is what oculus is trying to do.

          • jack2

            Why do fanboys on both sides go at it with such vitriol? Who cares. Oculus has a business model that might be sustainable, only the future will tell, and there’s nothing wrong with trying to keep the competition out of your ecosystem. Its very anti consumer, but people who favor your platform will champion you. Vive owners, revive will continue to get better and probably offer control remapping soon after the touch launches with its exclusives. I wouldn’t worry about it, everyone can mostly play what they want with what they want.

          • JoeD

            It’s not anti-consumer. Simple minds view everything they don’t understand as anti-consumer.

          • JoeD

            Jesus Christ! It’s not even close to being the same!!!! Again, let us know when you can play Rift games without having to buy a Windows based PC. This is the dumbest argument yet.

          • blueredgreenyellow

            ya I know, I downloaded Google Earth VR and it says It only works with the VIVE…. oh sorry I forgot we where bashing Super Hot VR not GOOGLE.

            Also games being exclusive to video cards makes a better example. Because that was a thing 25 years ago. The lack of standardization betwen APIs that we had then is similer to whats going on with VR now.

          • JoeD

            Exclusivity isn’t fragmenting the VR user base? You’re heads not only not on straight, it’s just not on.

          • JoeD

            “Platform or company specific programs are nothing new”

            They are when it comes to PC gaming. Good grief.

          • blueredgreenyellow

            Valve wont let Oculus run “OpenVR” nativle on oculus home. If they could they would. Oculus has also said they dont want to use a wraper (something like revive) do the the fact that How well it would run would be at the mercy of there competeter Valve.

          • JoeD

            You must be joking? Let us know when you can go out and buy a Rift without having to have a WINDOWS BASED PC TO RUN IT ON!!!

      • Matt

        Mario is a character, not an emerging technology with a relatively small market and a number of different devices, most of which are working to create a shared catalogue of games which are not locked to a single one.

        • Edward Bishop

          Yes, and Mario is made by Nintendo. Nintendo making games for Nintendo hardware. SuporHOT is made by a third party developer as are a great number of the Oculus exclusives.

        • jkflipflop98

          None of this matters now. Zenimax is going to destroy Oculus. If you bought a Rift, you F’d up.

  • DiGiCT Ltd

    What a bullshit story ROFL.
    I would even not want this crap on a Vive it should be on a mobile VR.
    The game looks so bad, even demo’s on the vive are better looking as that.
    What kinda money they talking about ? and a year of development sensuously ?
    If they tell the truth they should just go and learn stuff first before doing.
    Coding this game is not hard at all, even there are assets in unity which can do bullettime logic already.
    The 3d artist they have must be beginners too as it looks like crap.
    Total i can only rate this as a f2p alpha game, their reasons and excuses are IMO just to cover up the lack of knowledge, which in turn also explains why it took 1 year.
    Building in different controllers is really not that hard, there are many games out that support a lot of different controllers, the motion rift’s controlers are not taking that much of efford to implement, building from scratch a new version tells enough.
    Just be honest to your customers that this might be your first game you made and that you still need to learn.
    As @sapien says below the answer to the reason is just a BIG LIE,
    They look like typical school kidds which had some freetime to make a game, which is fine, but just be honest and don’t tell fairy tales as we are grownups.

    • ChampagneC

      TIL, this is what grown up writing looks like.

      • Pete

        No that’s what pissed the hell off looks like.

  • Pete

    No one cares to hear your crap excuses devs!! I will never buy shit from developers like this. It makes me SICK everytime I see Oculus sticking it’s fangs out to small weak devs like this, not to better the VR community, but only to better themselves and divide the community. I once held Oculus so high on their pedestal, now I look at them in DISGUST!! So much that I canceled my Rift order and kept my Vive order. Hopefully Oculus will fire their department that has corrupted the industry!!

    • Champagne_c

      DISGUSS, he says in all caps.

      • JoeD

        No, he said disgust in all caps. That’s called emphasis.

    • DM

      Wow you really are bitter! How do you even get up in the morning? I’m sure the Superhot devs are really feeling the pain now they got funding to make their VR version of the game after Oculus litterally forced them to sign up to a deal…

  • Alkapwn

    Did any of you guys read their blog post? They were teaming up with Oculus (AKA the only existing VR headset with a consumer version in mind) before the Vive was even a thing. Why wouldn’t they focus on delivering for Oculus home first? And if Oculus did back them then there’s no real downside should it eventually get on Steam. It’s more money for everyone. But they sure as hell aren’t gonna focus on that until they deliver it to their own house first.

    • jkflipflop98

      Except that’s complete BS because the Vive was “a thing” at the end of last year when they “rang up oculus” and asked for money.

    • JoeD

      Vive has been a thing for as long as Oculus has been a thing.

  • CURTROCK

    Consumer VR is finally a reality. I’ve been waiting since 1992. So thrilled that I lived to see this. We are also fortunate enough to have a choice of 2 very good HMD’s to choose from. Having large corporate entities like Facebook and Valve get behind this tech is the reason we have consumer VR. Those who are complaining about system exclusives, what are you upset about? If Oculus puts up the money to create a game for THEIR hardware, should they also put up the money to sell that game on their competition’s hardware? No. Grow up. Having a choice of which HMD to buy, means that available content will help to sway your choice, either way. If you chose to buy a VIVE, and you can’t play a game made for Rift, that is a consequence of your CHOICE. Perhaps huge sales of a particular game for 1 system, will encourage and incentivize the creation of an equally good or superior game on another system. Thats how strategy & competition works. If you don’t like Oculus/FB, and chose to support HTC/Valveinstead, that’s fine. It’s your CHOICE. But please don’t whine about how you can’t play a certain game on the product made by a company you have chosen NOT to support.

    • Tehen

      Wow, one rationnal comment !
      Thank you.

      For the others, the complaining commenters, if it is so easy to do a Vive version, please do it yourself or give money/help to the devs to do it for you.

      • Sapien

        It has already been done with the ReVive wrapper!
        The only problem is that Oculus is trying to stop that wrapper by including a check in their SDK, which determines what kind of HMD you are using.

        Think about it – what kind of future do you want for VR. Closed eco systems like the Oculus is trying to establish??

    • Maxwell Stein

      Here here, best comment. Thank you. And IMPO if you want to play a Rift game and you bought the Vive, stop being a cheepo and go buy the Rift, you would do the same if you bought a PlayStation and wanted to play Halo. . .

    • Edward Bishop

      Available software shouldn’t be the thing that sways your choice, hardware quality should be. If all the games (apart from first party games) were on both you’d have a much better way to determine which device was qualitatively better. I have both and based on the games I own which support both, the Vive is, by a small margin, the better device.

  • Maxwell Stein

    Are people really this stupid? and think this is a new thing? I’m
    confused, if I own a PlayStation I wouldn’t expect to play Halo on it,
    it is a Xbox ONLY game. You want to play Halo, get a damned Xbox, or
    shut up. This is how it is, not any type of hate or out of meanness, it
    is simply what it is. Lucky’s Tale was MADE by Oculus Studios, and Lucky
    was going to be like Mario to Nintendo. Have you EVER seen Mario in a
    non-Nintendo platform? . . . Didn’t think so.

  • Maxwell Stein

    If I can put my two cents in: VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) are the next step in our technology. This being said, VR would be more of a gaming thing than anything else, and atm very much a fad thing. AR on the other hand, could completely change how we do almost everything from shopping to driving. Also, VR is in its still, at least at the scale it is at now, very new, give it time, and it would get cheaper and more things. So please, don’t get all worked up about it.

  • Robert Attard

    I’d like to point out the over simplification of treating Oculus and the HTC Vive as different platforms on the same level as the Playstation and Xbox. The Playstation and Xbox have different architectures running different operating systems meaning that a considerable amount of effort is needed to make a game work on one or the other (unless of course you are using a multi-platform game development tool such as Unity). On the other hand the Oculus and the Vive run on the same platform, the only difference is that developers need to implement different APIs in order to handle both systems. Development wise this may not really be a big deal. This is why consumers feel cheated to see developers feeding into exclusivity deals. At the end of the day VR headsets are peripherals. VR is in its infancy and consumer confidence is already being tested by the sheer size of the investment needed to join the VR party let alone the prospect of facing compatibility issues. Exclusive deals will hurt the Oculus. The reason is that Oculus needs to fork out capital to develop and maintain exclusive games. This means less budget for developing a better product. VR headsets are still a long way from reaching their true potential. I think that the best strategy is to create a superior product. This will drive developers to create games for the platform which is better at vindicating their vision in terms of fidelity and experience.