Oculus Go’s Place In VR History In Focus As Industry Bids Farewell

Oculus Go is already gone from certain areas of Facebook’s official site for virtual reality products after the company confirmed it would cease sales of the headset.

The entry level standalone headset’s retirement after two years of availability marks the end of an era for virtual reality. One of Facebook’s technical guides in VR, John Carmack, was a driving force behind the Android-based optimization efforts at the company and commented that “it was not the VR headset that most of Oculus wanted to build, and it faced internal headwinds the entire time.”

“Go was about ‘do more with less’. Cheap, passively cooled silicon, smaller batteries,” Carmack wrote on Twitter. “I’m still a bit wistful about the unexploited potential — almost nothing maxed out the quality of experience that the existing hardware could provide. I can get a little down thinking about might-have-beens, but playing some Beat Saber on Quest always makes me feel better!”

His voice joined a chorus of comments from across the VR industry reflecting on the loss of the entry-level standalone VR system. Darshan Shankar, the CEO of virtual movie theater Bigscreen, said his company plans to drop support for Oculus Go by September of this year in light of the announcement. Late last year Facebook dropped support for the earlier phone-powered Gear VR and, shortly after, Bigscreen followed.

“The Oculus Go was an excellent entry point for people seeking a media consumption device. A large number of our active users continue to use the Go (>5%). We’ve commonly seen someone fall in love with Bigscreen, say on a Rift or Quest, and buy their friends or family an Oculus Go in order to hangout with them and watch movies,” Shankar wrote in a direct message. “It’s been tough to support the Go, as it’s the only 3DOF device we support and its performance capabilities are heavily restricted. We’re excited to standardize Bigscreen: now, all headsets we support have 6DOF controllers and we can create awesome interactions and avatars with that in mind. This also allows us to push the bounds creatively and visually, as the Quest is now our lowest-end device (and it’s very powerful, nearly 2x more capable than the Go).”

Virtual Desktop‘s sole developer, Guy Godin, commented in a direct message that “it was expected to happen at some point. The Go did provide a good transition from GearVR to Quest.”

Oculus Go Game Developers Move On

When it comes to games, the CEO of Resolution Games Tommy Palm explained over email “we still have games on the Go that are selling well, including Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs. But 6DoF is here to stay, and anything 3DoF was always just a stepping stone.”

“The market will ultimately benefit from a more unified market though,” Palm explained. “We saw many examples of consumers as well as professionals misjudging the state of VR because they couldn’t quite understand the difference between the Quest and the Go, so this is ultimately another step in the right direction for the industry.”

Stealth game RÉPUBLIQUE VR was an Oculus Go launch title from Camouflaj — the same company behind the upcoming PSVR title Iron Man VR — and founder Ryan Payton remembers “fawning over how frictionless it was to just strap the darn thing on and play VR. (Compared to the arduous process of loading up a Gear VR, previously.) I ended up getting really into watching NBA via NextVR from my Oculus Go until I graduated to Oculus Quest.”

“Oculus Go felt like a pivotal connecting point in the evolution of virtual reality,” Payton explained over email. “I think Facebook’s move to discontinue the product should be celebrated because it means that it’s time to move on to bigger and better things.”

The Anshar Wars trilogy from Ozwe Games spanned all Oculus-powered 3DOF VR headsets and CEO Stéphane Intissar wrote over email that the “VR industry owes a lot to the Oculus Go and its predecessors” because without “learning to solve many technical challenges such as massive multiplayer infrastructures, flawless locomotion, rich story telling and very mobile VR specific optimization techniques, it would not be possible to even dream of making solid AAA titles on a platform like the Quest like those that emerge on the PC VR platforms.”

Justin Wasilenko, Director at Orange Bridge Studios, wrote in an email that Oculus Go provided a “huge revenue stream” for their space fighting game End Space.

“The Oculus Go was understated in it’s popularity,” Wasilenko explained. “End Space was one of the more successful apps on Go. Its success even saw myself and some other developers flown down to Oculus headquarters where they first showed us Quest and what the future was going to be for the company. It was clear 2 years ago after that visit to Oculus HQ that this was going to happen. Quest is superior in every way except price. 3 DoF headsets provided an entry point into VR, however I feel they did more damage than good. I definitely profited from it but I have met many people who tried a Go or something similar and experienced motion sickness because of the lack of positional tracking or were just underwhelmed by the whole experience. As a media viewer the Go was great, but as a VR platform it was extremely limited. I think it’s not until you experience full 6 DoF with tracked hands that VR becomes truly magical. Go just isn’t good enough to make people believers in VR.

“In the future you are going to see more Quest-like products come out at a cheaper price point and that will drive more VR sales and convert more people. I feel Cardboard / GearVR / Go might have done a lot of damage in convincing people that VR truly is awesome because they just weren’t good enough. Quest with the Link capability is such an amazing value now, there is no need for a product like Go. When there’s a wireless Quest that is more comfortable and cheaper, that’s the future of VR. Better headsets and better content will drive the future of VR.”


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