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Oculus Rift boss would "love" to release on Xbox One, but worried about console life-cycles

"The more that they're throwing into AR and VR, the better it is for everybody."

Virtual reality outfit Oculus certainly isn't averse to releasing Oculus Rift on Xbox One, CEO Brendan Iribe has told OXM - as far as he's concerned, the more companies get involved with virtual or augmented reality, the better. Iribe is worried, however, that lengthy console lifecycles won't allow for the rapid iteration and innovation he expects VR to undergo in the next few years.

"Well, we love consoles," he began, when I popped the question during an Oculus Rift hands-on at Develop yesterday. "We play them a lot. There's no reason it can't technically work, it's just getting everybody involved. Right now we're focussed on the PC platform and Android."

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It "made more sense" to target PC first, Iribe continued, as it's an open platform that's not subject to any particular set of technical limitations. That said, he's "excited" by Xbox One and PS4, and would like manufacturers to experiment with VR or AR devices. "We love what both the console guys are doing. I hope one or both of the console guys make VR headsets, or something similar, like an AR headset.

"The more that they push into this space, even if it's a different device, or their own device, a different experience, the more that they're throwing into AR and VR, the better it is for everybody."

Microsoft was rumoured to be working on 3D goggles for the Xbox One shortly before the console's announcement. This particular rumour hasn't panned out, of course, but it's possible the manufacturer still entertains unrevealed plans for VR or AR - particularly given Google's activities on this front. The latter, lest we forget, is arguably Microsoft's real long-term rival in the race to dominate living rooms, not Sony or Nintendo.

"We just want this to work, ourselves," Iribe continued. "We want to put on a headset and for it to be awesome. We're going to try our best to make the very best experience, the very best VR device. We'd like to see it eventually become compatible with consoles, but right now we're mostly focussed on the PC side - we'd love them to come up with something."

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He suggests, however, that fixed console hardware won't offer enough headroom for evolving VR and AR devices in years to come. "I think that you will see VR move fast - AR also, but especially VR. You're going to see rapid innovation, and one of the concerns that we do generally have around consoles is that their life cycles are getting longer all the time - it's a seven to eight year lifecycle, and in eight years, VR is going to be insane. Incredible."

It's been claimed that Microsoft will effectively upgrade Xbox One's capabilities ad infinitum via the Xbox Live cloud - developers can farm out certain tasks to servers, freeing up processing power on the console itself for other activities. Iribe sees a lot of potential here, but not for Oculus Rift.

"There's a lot of latency in the cloud," he said. "Too much latency for this. This wants a maximum latency of 20-30 milliseconds from your head moving to the headset updating your eye on screen - what we call motion-to-photon. Right now it's at 30-50 milliseconds in the current versions, but we do expect that to come down and reach that 15-20 millisecond 'Holy Grail' timing.

"There's no room for cloud activity, from a visual VR perspective. You can still do cool stuff in the cloud for AI and characters, stuff like that, so what Microsoft's talking about in the cloud will improve the richness of some of the game activity, but it's not going to improve any of the visual fidelity."

I had the chance to try on an Oculus Rift headset during the chat. It's an extraordinary experience, albeit one accompanied by hefty motion sickness, though Iribe did assure me that Oculus is working on rectifying this. Look out for more on that - and VR at large - in the near future.

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