For the uninitiated, Oculus Connect is the annual conference where everything Rift and Gear VR shines brightest. Developers show off their latest, Oculus takes to the stage and shows off what is coming next, and the pulse of what comes next in VR can be physically observed and appreciated. It's a big deal, and this year there are a ton of new reasons to be excited.
Oculus has already shared some details about the excitement heading to San Jose this year, but we've got a few predictions to add to the list.
All the best games
The biggest advantage Oculus has in the larger VR landscape right now is the volume of incredible and unique VR games exist in its library. Titles like Lone Echo, The Unspoken, Robo Recall, Landfall, and several others offer experiences that are a cut above many other VR experiences, and they only exist on Oculus Rift.
It's been almost a year since the last Oculus Connect, and most of the best games you can play on a Rift today are still the titles announced at the last conference. Some of that is because those games took a little longer than expected to launch, but it's also because Oculus uses that stage to truly show off the best of what you can find on the Rift.
As a result, it's not difficult to imagine this year will offer much of the same. We're going to see trailers for some great games, and those games will be the ones we talk about all year long.
Mixed Reality is going to be a huge deal
No, not that stuff Microsoft is talking about. The other Mixed Reality, where you can stream yourself inside the VR experience so your viewers really understand what you're seeing and doing. Tucked away in the long and exciting list of thing Oculus is planning for Connect 4 on its blog is this gem:
We'll demo how to use the Rift SDK's new mixed reality capture support, which includes a tracked camera, proper in-game lighting, and more. We'll also walk you through how to add mixed reality capture to your Unity, UE4, or native app.
This means no more cobbling together your own streaming solution, and most likely also means a convenient way to stream directly to Facebook and other places. Being able to set your own camera in the game and show your audience what you're up to in VR is incredible, and making this feature something Oculus developers can easily implement will make VR game streaming truly impactful.
Lots and lots of social VR
Last year at Oculus Connect, we got a first look at Facebook Spaces for Oculus Rift. It's a clever first step into social VR, but it's also one of many different things Oculus and Facebook have been working on to encourage social VR experiences through the Rift and Gear VR. It wouldn't be shocking to see Facebook Spaces come to the Gear VR in some capacity, but Oculus has also made it clear the goal is to make sure every app has access to the Oculus Social Tools.
A session labeled "From New Project to Social VR in 30 minutes" looks to focus on making sure developers are able to easily add things like Oculus Avatars and social interaction tools from the SDK to any Unity app quickly. Adoption of these features isn't quite as universal as they could be, so new tools to make that adoption simpler and faster would be a huge deal for future Rift apps.
VR eSports are going to take center stage
With global tournaments for The Unspoken already exciting people paying attention to eSports, and games like Sparc and Echo Arena focusing heavily on being an arena for VR-focused sport, it's clear there's going to be a huge focus on these experiences in the future. Oculus has announced talks on the future of competitive gaming, but it wouldn't be at all surprising to see a new "vSport" game announced for Rift or Gear VR.
It's also likely we'll see a short tournament streamed directly from Oculus Connect 4, especially with so many people in attendance and the fondness Oculud has shown with live-streaming gameplay during events.
Be ready to watch
Not only will some of the VRHeads staff be on the ground to show you all the best Oculus has to offer as it is happening, but the keynote and several other events are going to be streamed live for you to enjoy. We'll be updating this regularly with where and how to watch and what the most exciting things will be, so keep an eye on this page and hop on that Oculus Connect hype train!
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