john carmack

Oculus CTO John Carmack says VR devs need to stop making novelty tech demos and think about VR games with actual value.

Former iD Software mastermind and current CTO of Oculus John Carmack had some choice words for VR developers at this year’s Oculus connect event. In short, he claims that a lot of devs are coasting on the “novelty” of VR, and making short “tech demo” like games that rely on the fact that they are most likely a user’s first experience with VR. He says that devs need to start making proper games, and holding their development practices to a much higher standard.

“We are coasting on novelty, and the initial wonder of being something people have never seen before,” he explained. “But we need to start judging ourselves. Not on a curve, but in an absolute sense. Can you do something in VR that has the same value, or more value, than what these other [non-VR] things have done?”

As an example, he told us that elsewhere in the industry, development teams are “fighting and struggling” to reduce load times to 29 seconds or less. VR devs are refusing to adhere to this standard, and that’s only going to hurt the format in the long run.

“That’s acceptable if you’re going to sit down and play for an hour….but [in VR] initial startup time really is poisonous. An analogy I like to say is, imagine if your phone took 30 seconds to unlock every time you wanted to use it. You’d use it a lot less.”

He closed up by urging devs to avoid having the mentality of the allure of novelty being “the biggest thing I want to impress on people.”

“This is misguided. It’s not just that it hurts your performance, or the visual quality isn’t as good; it’s actually the wrong thing to do.”

Personally, I have to agree. Almost every VR experience I have played has been a glorified tech demo. There are very few “real” and proper games out there (that aren’t just VR ports of existing games).


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