When my second generation Gear VR first showed up, I quickly filled my phone with VR games and started having a blast. Eve: Gunjack, Adventure Time: Magic Man's Head Games, and Herobound Gladiators consumed an entire weekend, and it was great. When my Oculus Rift showed up, I was thrilled to see that a lot of the games I was enjoying on the Gear VR were also available in this Desktop version of the Oculus Store.
Unfortunately, none of the games I had already purchased on the Gear VR showed up as ready to install on my Rift. Instead, I was asked to pay for these games again.
One of the big benefits to using the Gear VR and Oculus Rift together is the combined access to the Oculus Store. It's the same interface, same purchase system, same everything. When I logged in to the Oculus Store on my Desktop, my payment information and account details from the Gear VR were already there for me to use. Oculus even combines Gear VR and Rift purchases in the Order History view as though the transactions are the same. When you go to actually use the Oculus Store and install these apps, that line in the sand gets drawn and you're asking to purchase twice.
On the one hand, it's a weird business practice. On the other, supporting VR developers is incredibly important right now.
In some cases, game developers make a case for why you should buy the game twice. CCPGames, for example, makes it clear that they took advantage of the more capable Rift system to make the game look and sound much higher quality. You're basically paying for an HD upgrade in that case, which makes as much sense as when it happens on game consoles. Other games, like Turbo Button's Adventure Time: Magic Man's Head Games, looks the same on both platforms. The levels are identical, the audio is the same, this is the exact same game. And that's cool, because it's a really great game, but there's no clear reason to spend the $5 on the game on Rift when you already have it through the Oculus Store on Gear VR.
There's certainly an argument to be made here in favor of paying developers for their work. Both the Gear VR and the Oculus Rift have a comparably low user base right now, and building games for small audiences is expensive and runs the risk of returning you almost nothing if the game doesn't do well at launch. VR game studios face some interesting challenges right now when it comes to selling enough to justify the expense of development, but is letting Oculus charge twice for the game the best way to deal with that? This isn't about the cost, either. I'd gladly pay $10 for this Adventure Time game and be able to play it everywhere I have access to the Oculus Store, and I'd have said that before playing it.
There's no easy answer here. On the one hand, it's a weird business practice. On the other, supporting VR developers is incredibly important right now. After all, VR game companies looking to justify the cost of development is why Oculus is offering money for temporary exclusives in the first place.We reached out to Oculus for a comment on this, and after repeat attempts didn't get a response. Is this something that bothers you? Sound off in the comments!