An argument that has followed VR around since its major introduction with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift is that there are no games. This is a false argument. There are plenty of games — you only need to take a look at the Oculus Store or Steam Store — and if you queried the individuals making these arguments, they'd no doubt clarify that there are no VR games worth playing.
It's easy to generalize on the internet. Saying there are no games for X platform is nothing new, and it's a fun way to rustle jimmies in a mostly harmless way. It might also be a way to justify not owning an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive when friends are dropping off the usual gaming map to live in a virtual world; why spend all that money if there are no games? The same holds true for any console, OS, or platform, not just VR.
The argument that VR has no games can no longer hold up
Now that 2017 is more than half over, we've seen about a year and a half of Rift CV1 and HTC Vive. Way back in the early months of 2016, when both headsets were fresh on the market, the no-games argument could no doubt hold up a lot better than now.
We had a few Oculus Rift gems that coincided with launch — like ADR1FT, Chronos, Elite Dangerous: Deluxe Edition, and Lucky's Tale — and there were some Vive launch titles, like Tilt Brush, Job Simulator, and Fantastic Contraption. Most of these games are still being enjoyed today. It's not that these games weren't worth playing, hence the no games argument; it's more like people were worried that they'd run out of content fast and have no reason to keep the expensive headset around. It's understandable.
Experienced and amateur gamers alike, once the novelty of VR wears off, yearn for something similar to what they already know. They want a lengthy, enthralling story, deep gameplay, and strong mechanics. Healthy voice acting no doubt helps as well. There's arguably never been a better time for video games (ignore the microtransactions), and gamers expect a certain level of quality.
Steam has a lot of VR games to offer
There's no doubt that Vive and SteamVR have some excellent titles only available through Steam, many brought on by Steam's Early Access program. Some of our favorites around here include GORN, Hot Dogs, Horseshoes, & Hand Grenades, Onward, Castle Must Be Mine, and Pavlov VR.
If you look closely, though, there haven't really been any major AAA hits that have come from Valve (the mega-corporation that owns Steam and provides us with many Lord Gaben memes). It's not that Valve is doing nothing. Eurogamer.net reported back in February 2017 that Valve is developing three full VR games. Likewise, HTC has their own program, VIVE X, that aims at delivering funding and mentorship to developers looking to create meaningful content for VR.
Exclusives hurt the gaming industry
Valve has always said that exclusives hurt an industry, especially one as fragile as VR, and it's hard to argue that point. Gabe Newell, president and co-founder of Valve, has stated that funding is available for developers, no matter where they plan on publishing their content.
Many Vive users were no doubt drooling over the Rift's Robo Recall when it was launched, and Echo Arena is proving to be a huge hit with a competitive following. However, thanks to third-party software like Revive, it's relatively easy and cheap to play Rift games on HTC Vive. Games found only in Oculus Home but playable on Vive thanks to Revive include:
Perhaps what's hurting the VR industry more at the moment is the amount of shovelware — basically nothing more than poorly made tech demos — making it through the Early Access system, diluting the otherwise strong selection of games available to both Vive and Rift through Steam.
Exclusive games are not preferred, but you can't argue that Oculus funding other studios with the expectation of exclusivity has brought us many complete VR games that deliver a full experience with hours of quality content rather than glorified tech demos that a lot — not anywhere near all — of SteamVR titles really are.
Oculus wants to deliver the best VR content
Oculus says they don't have much interest in being a major game publisher, despite publishing — either through Oculus or Oculus Studios — some of the biggest Rift games yet. Oculus believes that the only way VR can survive is to deliver superb content, and they want it to happen fast rather than slow.
In 2016, Oculus funded developers everywhere with more than $250M, which brought us Robo Recall and Wilson's Heart, among other quality titles. At Oculus Connect 3, Mark Zuckerberg said there would be another $250M waiting for worthy developers. That's half a billion dollars of funding, and we're already seeing the result.
Some of the best Rift games yet have been published by Oculus or Oculus Studios:
These games, again thanks to Revive, can be played on the HTC Vive.
Oculus Connect 4 is expected to hold some sweet surprises
While Oculus Connect 3 saw the announcement of games like Robo Recall and Lone Echo and the announcement for more funding that has brought us quality, AAA titles, Oculus Connect 4, which is happening October 11 and 12, is expected to bring about the same types of announcements.
Oculus, although asking for exclusives in exchange for funding, has brought the Rift some of the best VR games yet. These games have largely helped put an end to the argument that there are no games for VR; all you have to do is look at Oculus or Steam stores. In the end, these Rift exclusives really aren't exclusives at all, thanks to third-party software, like Revive, that does a great job of letting Vive users get in on the action.
What's your opinion on the state of VR games? Do you think Oculus has provided us with enough quality content to make up for the exclusives aspect? Are you enjoying Rift games in your Vive? Let us know in the comments section!
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