In July, Road to VR Executive Editor Ben Lang and 2016 Industry Report contributor estimated HTCVive out selling Oculus Rift, comparing Steam install base and survey data. Moreover, according to Google Trends data compiled by Greenlight analysts, HTC Vive has been a more popular search term over the last 3-months when compared to Oculus Rift. (Note: Playstation VR has recently surpassed both in interest level, but as a console-based headset.) However, Oculus’ latest announcements may give the headset manufacturer an advantage as the industry approaches the holiday shopping season.
Oculus Will Focus on Social Experiences
Mark Zuckerberg’s goal of integrating social integrations on a VR platform has come to life. During the keynote address at Oculus Connect, the annual developer conference, Zuckerberg showcased Oculus’s newest VR social space and avatars.
The social interaction space brings together the success of Facebook with the possibilities of VR. Social components of VR are going to be an important component of how VR advances. Bringing in real-world components through sharing videos and photos, and video calling friends in the real world will bring a piece of the user into the experience.
This is not the first social space with AltSpace and Linden Labs currently leading app developments on social spaces, but Facebook has the experience to popularize a social space.
Oculus Eliminated A Major Product Differentiator
The biggest advantage the Vive had over the Rift was room scale capabilities and hand tracking controllers. With it’s newest releases, Oculus has improved on its weaknesses, adding an additional tracking sensor and have officially announced a release date (Dec. 6, 2016) for its hand tracking controllers.
The Oculus Touch controllers are even a slight step above Vive’s controllers. Touch controllers have pressure sensors to track hand motion. This leads to more intuitive hand controls in the VR experience.
A Standalone Headset is Coming
Zuckerberg spoke about the need for a VR experience in between a mobile VR and high-end experience.Giving a sneak peak into their developments, the headset has the tracking and immersion of a high-end headset but without the wires or high-quality graphics.
Standalone headsets and inside-out tracking are goals the industry is striving for. Although these headsets can’t be as powerful as PC-based headsets, these advancements add to a better immersive experience and the development demonstrates Oculus’ view of the future.
Oculus’ announcements do not set it as a clear winner, as HTC still has access to more room-scale VR experiences, and with Valve’s involvement, Vive users will have the best equipment to play and game using Valve’s VR development tools.