October 12, 2017 // 12 p.m.
Facebook-owned Oculus VR has made some major announcements at its annual Oculus Connect conference including a permanent price cut for its Rift headset and the impending launch of an all-in-one standalone headset dubbed Oculus Go.
The biggest announcement of the Oculus Connect conference, now in its fourth year and with nearly 3,000 attendees, was Oculus Go: a standalone virtual reality headset which requires no host computer to run. 'It’s awesome for watching movies or concerts, playing games, or just hanging out with your friends in VR,' the company claims in its announcement. 'The high-resolution fast-switch LCD screen dramatically improves visual clarity and reduces screen door effect. And the next-generation lenses are our best ever—offering a wide field of view with significantly reduced glare. Oculus Go also ships with integrated spatial audio. The speakers are built right into the headset, transporting you straight into VR and making the headset easy to share with someone else. If you need it, there’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack for private listening.'
At $199 - a price which will doubtless translate to £199, barring any major shifts in the value of the Pound Sterling between now and its launch early next year - it's no surprise to find the Oculus Go closer to the Samsung Gear VR than the Oculus Rift. Indeed, the two will be entirely compatible: 'Gear VR and Oculus Go apps are binary compatible, and they share the same controller input set—that means developers building for Gear VR are already building for Oculus Go,' the company explained. 'As an added plus, the best of our mobile VR content library will be available to everyone on day one.'
Oculus VR has also announced a permanent price cut to its tethered Oculus Rift and Touch Controller bundle, which brings the cost back down to the same $399/£399 it was during the Summer of Rift sale period - a significant discount over rival HTC's equivalent Vive bundle. 'Summer of Rift had a major impact on the VR industry, and the community’s response showed that the appetite for best-in-class VR hardware and games is stronger than ever,' the company claims. 'We want to continue getting VR into more people’s hands, so we’re permanently lowering the price of Rift to $399 USD.' As before, the bundle includes a Rift headset, Touch Controllers, and six software packages.
Other announcements made during the event, detailed on the official blog, include a preview of the next-generation Project Santa Cruz platform which offers six degrees of freedom (6DOF) head-tracking and positional hand presence without a physical tether to the host PC, a teaser for a new VR-exclusive game from Respawn Entertainment, new developer tools including improved safety features for social applications, the December release of Rift Core 2.0 with new Oculus Home customisation options, and the plan to launch Oculus Venues in early 2018 for virtual reality concerts, films, and TV shows in an audience of up to 1,000 people.