GoPro Unveils New VR Platform and Rigs

GoPro is riding the virtual reality wave hard, revealing its new VR video platform, alongside its six-camera and sixteen-camera VR rigs. The GoPro VR app – available for free from today on PC, Android, and iOS – is effectively a rebranding of Kolor Eyes, the website and software inherited by GoPro following its acquisition of French VR outfit Kolor. “The platform allows users to experience the immersive world of 360˚ video and transforms users’ screens into a virtual portal, showcasing original content from GoPro and a global community of artists,” according to GoPro.

To make the most of this new VR platform, GoPro has launched two VR camera rigs; one designed to be entry-level, and another aimed at professional photographers and filmmakers. The entry-level model, the Omni (pictured above), features six GoPro HERO4 Black cameras, capable of “over-capture” at 8K resolution, stung together in the shape of a cube, to create 360˚ videos. The Omni is priced at $5,000 and is available for pre-order from today.

The Odyssey (above) – available only through GoPro’s Limited Access Program, the company’s professional-only scheme – sports sixteen HERO4 Black cameras, synchronised down to the pixel, aligned in a carousel. Images shot by the Odyssey are stitched together in Google’s cloud-based Jump Assembler software to construct 8K30, stereoscopic panoramic videos that can then be uploaded to YouTube. Priced at $15,000, the Odyssey is available to film professionals now.

Sony Planning PlayStation VR Demos at GameStop

As we’ve mentioned and time and time again, VR is a really VR sell unless the consumer has a chance to try it. Being told over and over again about VR without a chance to experience it as a new form of content consumption won’t sell many headsets. To combat this, Sony is planning to place their PlayStation VR headsets at many retail locations, mainly GameStop it seems. What’s more, the demo will hit the floor starting June.

Honestly, an in-store demo is pretty much expected as this point. Sony won’t be the only VR vendor as they will be sharing space with the HTC Vive demo units as well. The plan is for GameStop to provide over 500,000 experiences between June and December of this year. According to GameStop, the setup for PlayStation VR is easier, allowing for more units to be set up. This isn’t a surprise as GameStop is used to hosting console demo units while the HTC Vive will require a PC.

Finally, the reveal that PlayStation VR demos will arrive in June is a bit of a surprise. This means Sony plans to have the system all finalized and enough content created by June to start displaying it. To me, this suggests that Sony won’t have production ramped up to meet expected supply till October which is when the headset will officially launch. Given the supply issues facing the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, this is not the lease surprising.

Oculus “Doesn’t Condone” Actions of HTC Vive Hackers

Yesterday, an industrious coder released a homebrew software package that allows HTC Vive users to play the demos for Lucky’s Tale and Oculus Dreamdeck, both titles exclusive to the Oculus Rift. The an alpha build of the software – “a proof-of-concept compatibility layer between the Oculus SDK and OpenVR” – was released on GitHub by reddit user CrossVR to much buzz amongst VR users, but Oculus is understandably miffed about the matter.

“This is a hack, and we don’t condone it. Users should expect that hacked games won’t work indefinitely, as regular software updates to games, apps, and our platform are likely to break hacked software,” Oculus told GamesIndustry.biz.

While Oculus is unhappy about the “hack”, the software – named Revive – remains available on GitHub. It remains to be seen whether it will be subject to a cease and desist order, or a DMCA takedown, from the aggrieved company.

“It may work with plenty of other games, but that hasn’t been tested by myself. It’s still early days for this project, since it’s only been in development for a few weeks. In the future more games will be supported, but I’m glad to see such swift progress already,” CrossVR explained in his reddit post. Indicating a determination to continue work on the project, he added, “this is version 0.2 and there will be many more as there is still plenty of work to do.”

Oculus Pre-Order Deliveries Delayed by up to Two Months

Due to an “unexpected component shortage”, reported last week, some early pre-orders of the Oculus Rift have had their shipping dates delayed by up to two months, with one buyer – who pre-ordered 33 minutes after the VR device was made available on 6th January – being informed that he will have to wait until the end of May, at the earliest, for his order, reports RoadtoVR.

Another customer, commenting on reddit, revealed that, despite pre-ordering within 1 hour and 40 minutes of availability on 6th January, Oculus has delayed shipping their Rift, with an estimated delivery of between 13th-23rd June.

While pre-orderers have seen their order delayed by up to two months, all subsequent orders have been put back even further, with shipping of new orders pushed back until August.

Responding to numerous complaints on the Oculus subreddit, a customer support representative wrote:

“Kickstarter Backers, we’re changing your Order History to show “TBD” instead of the date as that date was applicable to the time in which we imported the orders. We’ve already fulfilled a large number of the orders and more are being fulfilled on a regular cadence.”

Also, in response to the furore, Oculus has begun refunding shipping costs on orders placed before 2nd April.

Sony PlayStation VR Will Focus on Seated Play

As the cheapest virtual reality headset, the PlayStation VR has a good chance to shape how many users will see and experience VR for the first time. For this reason, the direction Sony takes with their headset that will launch later this year is something we are watching closely. Unfortunately, it seems that Sony has closed the door on room-scale VR and is choosing to focus on seated virtual experience with their games for now.

In statement Sony gave, they noted that “We have some tech demos that allowed users to play while standing up, however all the PS VR titles we plan to release in the future will recommend that users remain seated. We will announce further details of guidelines or regulations when ready”. Givent he nature of the control Sony has over the PS4, we can expect most developers will have to follow the regulations Sony will set. The few that won’t will be likely targeting the users that got PS VR for their PC.

The reason that PS VR is going to focus on seated play is because the PlayStation Move camera simply can’t track a large enough area. Tracking will likely be limited to a short-range for the head, arms and upper body. This leaves the HTC Vive, with its superior tracking cameras, as the sole provider of large room scale VR. For me, room scale VR seems to be the most exciting part  so it will be interesting to see if developers will focus on that or go the easier route with Sony and Oculus.

DOTA 2 Could Be Getting a VR Spectating Mode

When it comes to eSports, being able to watch the techniques and strategies used by teams as they compete can be a gripping and thrilling experience. Be it at home or in a stadium, watching people play the game and knowing that in a just a few short seconds the entire game can change excites people, so what would you do if you could get closer to the action? You could soon with Valve teasing a VR spectating mode for the MOBA game, DOTA 2.

The footage was teased by Robert McGregor on twitter, showing off just some of the features. The footage shows a screen, similar to the one you would find watching the game regularly, only looking away from the suspended screen shows you details about the events and characters taking place in the match.

To either side of the screen line up the characters, showing the items they’ve all taken, while straight ahead as if on a table you have the overhead map, complete with markers to show who’s where. Compiled with team network and differences in experience gained, a single glance in any direction can reveal something you might normally miss.

While the new system looks to be made to support the HTC Vive (controllers and all), this is the first it’s been seen in action and if it’s anything to go by, VR spectating could be something that other e-sports look to create in the near future.

NVIDIA Show Off Everest – VR Goes Further

GTC 2016: NVIDIA have started their keynote for GTC 2016 by explaining the benefits of VR outside of gaming. They did this by showing what was done when they took one of the world’s most valued treasures and attempted to recreate it; Mount Everest.

The geometry used reflects every aspect of the mountain through the ice and snow to the way that each individual flake separates and swirls around in the wind. This amounts to over 108 billion pixels being used to supply the very best experience for the user and this is just the start of VR outside of gaming to give the user an experience that is unparalleled.

Looking forward to other areas allows NVIDIA to focus on some of the worlds wonders and bringing it to the user as an experience that they would generally not be able to see in an average lifetime.

To see what the fuss is about, check out the video below.

Overclockers UK Will Be at the VR World Congress Next Week

By now there can’t be much doubt in anyone’s mind that 2016 will be the year that will be remembered as the year VR went mainstream. We have got 3 major players each bringing out their own VR headsets, partly they already have to early adopters, and they surely won’t be the last ones. Overclockers UK is one of the biggest gaming system builders and hardware components shops in the UK and they are also on board for this new wave of virtual reality. We’ve already seen them create dedicated HTC Vive area in their shops where customers and fans can experience the full room VR experience, so there is no doubt that they believe in this too.

Overclockers UK will also be among the 600 buyers, sellers, and developers who will attend the VR World Congress next week on April the 12th in Bristol that is being headlined by AMD and their LiquidVR. At the VRWC, you’ll find a dedicated expo hall filled to the brim with exciting and innovative companies showing the latest developments in VR.

OC UK themselves will bring their high-performance PCs, starting from the recommended VR specifications and all the way up to the 8Pack designed and built monster PC called the Asteroid. There will also be the chance to test out OCUK’s Room Scale VR Experience at their booth.

You can also be part of this yourself, if you have time and are in the area, and you can even get in for free with a little luck. Overclockers UK is giving away 2 tickets for this event and the entry is as simple as it could be. All you have to do is to visit the OCUK forums and post a reply to a thread there. You should also take the time to browse the forums a little bit while you’re there, they got some great and knowledgeable people hanging around that post a lot of interesting stuff.

Oculus Rift Terms And Conditions Allow Facebook to Deploy Targeted Adverts

Virtual reality headsets have the potential to revolutionize the way we enjoy various entertainment forms and even help train apprentices to learn new skills in a more practical manner. This year has already been significant for developing VR technology and bringing it the consumer market. However, the early adopter pricing for both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are well out of the reach of most users. Despite this, VR technology allows developers to start making unique games and there should be a fantastic library when devices become more affordable. Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus raised some questions about the headset’s target audience and possible emergence of social media advertising.

The Oculus Rift’s terms and conditions contains a number of interesting clauses about user data. According to The Guardian, Facebook is able to collect:

“Information about your physical movements and dimensions when you use a virtual reality headset”,

Facebook also added:

“We use the information we collect to send you promotional messages and content and otherwise market to you on and off our Services,” “We also use this information to measure how users respond to our marketing efforts.”

This means Facebook can use location data to monitor your position and collect information on how you use the Oculus Rift. More worryingly, the terms clearly state that your personal information can be passed onto “related companies”. This refers to other parts of the Facebook brand such as WhatsApp. Consumers concerned about their privacy will find these terms rather intrusive and might be enough to deter them from making a purchase. Facebook’s ability to use the data for advertising purposes isn’t ideal and something which many people anticipated when the company took the helm. Admittedly, it’s fairly common for companies to outline similar data gathering policies but this doesn’t make it acceptable.

Are you concerned by the Oculus Rift’s terms or feel they are being blown out of proportion?

Oculus Waives Shipping Fees for All Past Orders

The Oculus Rift may have won the race to be the first VR headset to be available to consumers, but it hasn’t been so easy for Oculus due to the boom in interest for the VR headset. The Rift began shipping out to consumers on the 28th of March, but many preorder customers are still yet to receive any notification that their device will be shipped to them. Now Oculus VR has admitted that they have been struggling to meet demands for the Rift, with CEO Brendan Iribe taking to Twitter to state that the first batch of Rifts was “going out slower than we orig(inally) estimated.” This was backed up by an email sent out to waiting customers, citing an “unexpected shortage” as the reason that many were still waiting.

We’ve been working through an unexpected component shortage, and unfortunately, that issue has impacted the original shipping estimates for some early customers. We’re working hard to get up-to-date ship windows, and you should expect to see your order status updated on oculus.com by Tuesday, April 12th.

In order to make it up to customers who had pre-ordered one of the headsets, Oculus stated that they will be disregarding any delivery charges for all orders that have already been placed. It’s not all delays, though, with many customers having received their Rifts on time, one even being delivered by Palmer Luckey himself! Hopefully, Oculus will be able to sort out this issue before their main rival, the HTC Vive makes it to market when both sides will have a fight on their hands.

HoloLens Developer Warns of Overheating Issue

2016 may be the year of virtual reality, but Microsoft is carving its own path with its augmented reality headset, the HoloLens, which launched its Development Edition yesterday. While the HoloLens has been criticised for its small viewing area, low resolution, and limited app sizes, a developer working with the headset has warned that the most immediate concern could be how much heat the HoloLens generates.

David Dedeine, CCO for Asobo Studio, which developed the games Young Conker and Fragments for the HoloLens, has expressed his worry that Microsoft’s AR device could become too hot to wear for long periods. Unlike VR headsets, such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, the unteathered HoloLens packs its processing power into the headset itself, meaning that the processor is effectively on your head, rather than in a connected PC.

“The most important thing is to really be economical […] you would never need to do this with console or PC—it’s all about consumption of energy, battery savings,” Dedeine told PC World. “Even more important, it’s heat—to not make the whole thing get too hot, as it would be uncomfortable to the user.”

Should the HoloLens breach its defined high temperature threshold, it will immediately shutdown any app that it is running, in order to protect both the headset itself and your poor head.

It should be recognised that the current iteration of the HoloLens is the Development Edition, and as such is sure to undergo many refinements before its consumer release. Augmented reality is still new territory, and it remains to be seen whether Microsoft can do the concept justice.

“I say that there is a continent of gaming, and VR is just a new peninsula on that continent,” Dedeine says. “AR is an entirely new continent.”

Oculus Founder Delivers First Consumer Unit in Person

The founder of Oculus VR, Palmer Luckey, decided that he would deliver the very first consumer version of the Oculus Rift VR headset himself. The lucky recipient? Ross Martin, an indie developer from Anchorage, Alaska, who was the first person to pre-order the consumer Rift, which will be arriving at the houses of the remaining customers starting on Monday.

The decision by Luckey to deliver the Rift had been a move that he desired for a long time but was only able to realize at the last moment, due to the obvious issues with the founder being out of the office just days before the product’s release. “This didn’t come together until the last second, I’ve had a bunch of things that I’ve wanted to do over the years, and I was pretty adamant,” Luckey told Polygon. “I said hey guys, I’ve been working on this since 2009, we’ve been working on Oculus since 2012, I’ll be damned if some random delivery guy is going to get the satisfaction of delivering the first Rift. That’s mine.”

Meanwhile, Martin, who documented his feelings on the experience on Twitter, first posting an image of the golden ticket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  He continued to state that in further tweets “So grateful to Palmer Luckey and Oculus for coming all the way to Alaska,” and “You guys are super cool!” Leading up to the release, Martin had no idea that he was the first to order the Rift and when he received the call that it would be delivered early and in-person, he simply believed that all pre-orderers had gotten the same treatment. “I would never think that someone doing it by hand would be the first,” he said.

It is great to see that despite the Rift taking so long to come to market and moves that have been considered unpopular, such as their acquisition by Facebook, that Luckey and Oculus VR treat their customers well.

Virtual Desktop Lets You Use Your Whole PC in VR

Virtual reality technology has seen a massive surge recently, with a number of headsets to be released over the course of 2016. The typical usage of the technology is to allow more immersive gaming experiences but it is capable of so much more such as being a replacement for normal monitors in regular PC usage. The software that makes this possible is named Virtual Desktop and is set to be released on March 28th.

The idea behind the software is incredibly simple, it shows your standard PC desktops as floating panels in a full 360 degree VR environment. It also includes all the features it may need to render your regular monitors obsolete, including multiple monitor support and the ability to use your own pictures to make up the 360 background around your desktop(s), which they can be set to blend with. It even supports fully immersive music visualizations and the ability to watch movies in full VR, or even on the big-screen in VR cinema! In short, it lets you do your favourite things in VR, such as watch video without waiting for every service to bring out their own VR-compatible applications.

You can also play games in Virtual Desktop, with it including support for anything that runs from Steam and many games that don’t, with the creator reporting on Reddit that he had played Heroes of the Storm in VR. It even ran smoothly despite the graphics card in use being a GTX 770, which is made possible due to Virtual Desktop being incredibly lightweight and built using DirectX so it should have minimal impact on regular non-VR games played through it.

Tools like this are the ones that will move VR from being a gaming gimmick to something that is potentially useful for everyone on an everyday basis. It may hurt those who wish to sell purpose-specific VR tools, but for anyone getting an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, Virtual Desktop could just be money well-spent, after all, it’s only $15! Although, you will have to use Windows 10 to use it to its full potential.

Overclockers UK Titan Dark Zone Gaming PC Review

Introduction


Overclockers UK is one of the leading stockists of PC hardware and their engineering team produces an impressive range of custom rigs to suit contrasting tastes. Whether you’re looking for a silent air-cooled build, or extreme overclocked PC with premium water cooling parts, there’s something designed for your specific requirements. Often, whenever a new game is released which sells remarkably well, consumers like to pay homage with a system based around its theme. This can be a challenge especially if the game in question doesn’t have a distinctive colour scheme. The Division is an open world third-person shooter set in a bleak vision of New York City ravaged by a smallpox pandemic. This intriguing setting and captivating multiplayer confrontations have proved to be incredibly popular! As a result, The Division became Ubisoft’s fastest selling game on record and attracted a very passionate community.

This success story has given Overclockers UK inspiration for their latest gaming PC entitled the Titan Dark Zone. The system opts for orange braided PSU extension cables and vibrant LED lighting which creates a stunning aesthetic design. Combining the orange tones with black jet black components is quite unusual and a reference to The Division’s box art. Therefore, the Titan Dark Zone is a dream come true for fans of this particular title and features a very potent specification capable of powering VR devices without any concessions. The Intel i7-6700K is professionally overclocked to 4.5GHz using the Alpenfohn Broken 2 cooler. As a result, I expect to see an impeccable performance to noise ratio which surpasses many closed-loop-coolers. On another note, the 16GB 2400MHz DDR4 memory, factory overclocked GTX 980Ti and Samsung 250GB boot drive should be able to provide a sensational gaming experience even on high-resolution monitors. Rather surprising, Overclockers UK have decided to use a non-modular power supply which complicates cables management. On the other hand, the PSU has received a great deal of critical acclaim and showcases the careful decision-making process when designing a system’s specification.

Specifications

  • Name: Overclockers UK Titan Dark Zone
  • Case: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX
  • Motherboard: MSI Z170A-SLI Plus
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-6700K Overclocked to 4.5GHz
  • Processor Cooler: Alpenfohn Broken 2
  • System Memory: Team Group Elite 16GB (8x2GB) 2400MHz CL16 RAM
  • Main Boot Drive: Samsung 250GB 850 Evo SSD
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): Seagate 2TB 7200RPM HDD
  • Graphics card: MSI GeForce GTX 980ti Armor X2 6GB
  • Power Supply: XFX TS 750W 80 Plus Gold
  • Peripherals: N/A
  • Monitor: N/A
  • Optical Drive: N/A 
  • Wireless: N/A
  • OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
  • Warranty: Three Year (24 Month Collect and Return plus 12 Month labour) Mainland UK and Ireland Only
  • Price: £1549.99

Packing and Accessories

The system arrived in an extremely large box which cannot fit on my photography backdrop. This is the reason why I’ve taken a snapshot in the hallway to emphasize the package’s mammoth size. Overclockers UK always adopt such an attentive approach to packaging and employ durable materials which enhances the level of protection substantially. It’s evidently clear that the company has considered the strain delicate PCs go under during transit and taken every necessary step to dramatically reduce the probability of damage occurring.

Once the top cover has been removed, we can see an ample supply of durable cardboard inserts which holds the system firmly in position.

The Titan Dark Zone is placed in the original chassis box and secured with strong tape. Honestly, I’d be extremely surprised if you received the system with even cosmetic imperfections considering multiple layers were used for protective purposes.

There’s additional support inside the chassis box via two strong polystyrene blocks.

The system’s internal components are surrounded by three Instapak foam pieces. These are essential additions which protect the CPU mounting and prevent the graphics card from applying too much pressure on the PCI-E slot during delivery.

In terms of accessories, OCUK included a Welcome Pack and Windows 10 Home OEM DVD containing the product code. The Welcome Pack outlines the system’s specification, and warranty terms in an easy to understand manner. Personally, I love the overall presentation and solder joints design on the front cover.

CPU-Z


GPU-Z

PlayStation VR Bundle Sells Out in Four Minutes on Amazon

Yesterday, the 23rd of March, Amazon started taking pre-orders of Sony’s new virtual reality headset, PlayStation VR at 7:01 AM PST. Within just four minutes of the pre-order going live, Amazon had already sold out of its entire allotment of launch bundles. It is unknown how many of the bundles Amazon had available for pre-order, but the bundled unit was certainly more popular than the headset alone.

The PlayStation VR launch bundle is retailing for $499, making it considerably cheaper than the PC’s VR offerings and includes not just the headset, but a number of additional items to enjoy the VR experience at launch. Some of the items in the bundle are two PlayStation Move controllers, a PlayStation 4 camera, a copy of PlayStation VR Worlds as well as all the cables required to make full use of the headset. PlayStation VR Worlds itself is a compilation of a number of top VR games that have been demoed by Sony, such as The London Heist, VR Luge, Scavengers Odyssey, & Into The Deep all on-disk.

Both the headset and the bundle are on-track for a release in November, putting it behind the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, but these strong pre-sales of the headset could mean good things for the future of VR on the PlayStation. We may have to wait until the end of the year to truly tell who offers the best VR experience, but if PlayStation VR sales go the same way as the pre-orders, it may be a long while before many can get their hands on one.

Shuhei Yoshida Defends PlayStation VR’s Basic Package

PlayStation VR’s launch price is designed to provide a more affordable entry into virtual reality technology and encourage mainstream audiences to become early adopters. However, many users have criticized Sony for their marketing policy and failure to include the PlayStation Camera with the basic VR bundle. As a result, you cannot use the headset without the camera which increases the price from $400 to $460. Arguably, this hidden cost is similar to Sony’s use of proprietary memory cards on the Vita. Despite these concerns, the President of Sony’s Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida explained why the company decided to take this step and told Colin Moriarty and Tim Gettys on Kinda Funny’s PlayStation podcast:

“Yeah, ‘PSVR is not $400 it’s $460!’ Yeah. I saw these comments. [Laughter] Pretty early in the process, we decided to not bundle the camera because we know that many people already own the camera. Especially people who purchased the PS4 in the first year. So those people, if we bundle, as a standard, a camera — another one — you know they would be mad. You know because they can’t do anything with it because the PS4 can only accept one camera. Maybe sell it on eBay or whatever. And the same thing with Move. The camera is required, but we know many people already own it. So we don’t put it in the basic product. This week’s announcement [GDC announcement] for us is to announce the base unit. That’s consistent globally and for people we know…who already own cameras. We don’t want them to spend more money than necessary.”

Honestly, I’m not convinced by this argument because the PlayStation Camera was always an additional extra which didn’t bring anything exciting to existing games. Therefore, I’d be interested in seeing how many people actually own the camera across various regions. Whatever the case, Sony will be releasing other bundles with everything you need to get started.

Valve Has VR Plans for Older Graphics Cards

Are you preparing your PC for the new advent of virtual reality? Well, don’t ditch that GTX 680 just yet. Alex Vlachos, a programmer for Valve, revealed during his GDC 2016 talk in San Francisco last week that the company is looking to lower its minimum spec for HTC Vive VR headset.

“As long as the GPU can hit 45 HZ we want for people to be able to run VR,” Vlachos told UploadVR, following his presentation, entitled Advanced VR Rendering. “We’ve said the recommended spec is a 970, same as Oculus, but we do want lesser GPUs to work. We’re trying to reduce the cost [of VR].”

“I can run Aperture [Valve’s Portal-themed VR demo] on a 680 without dropping frames at a lower quality, and, for me, that’s enough of a proof of concept,” Vlachos said during his talk. “Most art we’re seeing in VR isn’t as dense as that. So we should be pretty good to go…everything should be able to support that low-end hardware. But we need the right safety nets in place.”

The VR market is heating up this year, with pre-orders of the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR going strong, and the imminent release of the Microsoft HoloLens later this month.

Sony to Reject Any PlayStation VR Game That Drops below 60fps

At GDC 2016 this week, during a Sony-sponsored talk on the development of its PlayStation VR headset, Chris Norden, the Senior Dev support Engineer at Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), revealed that any game for the new virtual reality headset that drops below 60 frames-per-second will be immediately rejected.

“Frame rate is really important; you cannot drop below 60 frames per second, ever,” Norden told the GDC audience (via Gamasutra). “If you submit a game to us and it drops to 55, or 51 […] we’re probably going to reject it.”

“I know I’m going to get flak for this, but there’s no excuse for not hitting frame rate,” he added. “It’s really hard, and I’m not going to lie to and say it’s extremely easy […] it’s really difficult.” Norden set down a final marker for developers: “60hz is the minimum acceptable framerate. Everybody drill that into your heads.”

Norden also revealed that PlayStation VR will aim to be inclusive of the new virtual reality ecosystem as a whole, and does not consider the hardware to be a proprietary ‘walled garden,’ saying, “We’re all friends; the VR industry is really small and really tight. The VR industry needs to succeed, and everybody inside of it needs to succeed.”

He also assured gamers that the PlayStation VR will not necessarily require large standing areas in order to play. “If you want to have a small area, if you want your players to be seated, to be standing, that’s okay,” said Norden. “Don’t feel like you’re constricted to just one thing,”

Pre-orders of the PlayStation VR have been booming, with Amazon stores in Europe selling out within minutes on launch day on Wednesday (16th Marrch).

Basemark and Crytek Release a VR Score Benchmark

Those of you who want to test your PC in order to see if it can handle VR gaming will definitely want to hear about this new benchmark developed by Basemark and Crytek. Dubbed VRScore, the benchmark was designed as a real-world performance test, and it is based on the acclaimed CryEngine. The product includes several different tests, including some for spatial audio, videos and VR games, and it’s also worth pointing out that it supports DirectX 12. Fortunately, you don’t actually need a VR headset in order to test your PC with VRScore, but keep in mind that the benchmark will simulate the needs of high-end products such as the HTC Vive, which needs a gaming resolution of 2160×1200 as well as a refresh rate of 90Hz in order to work properly.

Corporate customers are already able to use this new benchmarking tool while regular users will be able to get their hands on it in June. If you’ll want to try it out for free, you will be able to download the benchmark’s free but limited version, but the paid Pro version is probably the way to go if you want to enjoy all that VRScore has to offer. Moreover, Basemark has also announced a new device named VRScore Trek, which was designed to test the performance of VR headsets.

Oculus Rift Launch Games and Prices Revealed

With the long-awaited release date of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset just around the corner, Oculus VR has finally announced the pricing for the entire launch-day lineup of games. The news was reported from Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2016, with Oculus making the big reveal on the third day of the event.

The rift’s launch will be accompanied by thirty games that will officially support the headset from day-one. The list of games includes a number of well-known and popular games that will be integrating full integration for the headset, including Project Cars and the already revealed Elite: Dangerous. The prices are as varied as the games themselves too, ranging from $59.99 for the EVE Valkyrie Founder’s Pack down to a number of more budget $9.99 titles. This means that the value of the pre-order offer that included a copy of EVE Valkyrie saves any early buyers a decent sum.

The variety of games that are launching with the Rift is similar to the rest of the PC gaming industry, with established AAA titles billing high while smaller indie titles aim for more buyers at a far more modest price point. Having the honour of being one of the thirty Rift release titles should help those smaller developers along too.

The full listing can be seen below:

  • ADR1FT – $19.99
  • Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Games – $4.99
  • AirMech: Command – $39.99
  • Albino Lullaby – $9.99
  • Audio Arena – $9.99
  • Project Cars – $49.99
  • Chronos – $49.99
  • Darknet – $9.99
  • Dead Secret – $14.99
  • Defense Grid 2 Enhanced VR Edition – $29.99
  • Dreadhalls – $9.99
  • Elite Dangerous: Deluxe Edition – $59.99
  • Esper 2 – $9.99
  • EVE Valkyrie Founder’s Pack – $59.99
  • Fly to KUMA – $14.99
  • EVE Gunjack – $9.99
  • Herobound SC – $9.99
  • KeepTalking and Nobody Explodes – $14.99
  • Lucky’s Tale – Bundled
  • Omega Agent – $14.99
  • Radial G – $24.99
  • Rooms – $14.99
  • Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe VR – $9.99
  • Smashing the Battle – $19.99
  • Vanishing of Ethan Carter – N/A
  • Vektron Revenge – $9.99
  • VR Tennis Online – $24.99
  • Pinball FX2 VR – $14.99
  • Blaze Rush – N/A
  • Windlands – $19.99

PlayStation VR Already Sold Out on European Amazon Stores

Pre-orders of the PlayStation VR, Sony’s PlayStation 4-compatible virtual reality headset, were made available this morning, and within minutes Amazon stores in the UK, France, and Germany had sold out.

Following its “out of stock” notice, Amazon UK made a second batch available a few hours later, but limited to one per address. A note on the sales page read (courtesy of DualShockers):

“Due to limited stock we are only able to offer one unit per customer per address. We do not currently have a release date for this product. Based on our initial allocation we cannot guarantee release day delivery if you ordered after 11:45 GMT, Wednesday 16 March, 2016. You will be notified via email of the expected delivery date closer to the time. This product comes with a UK plug and therefore may not be suitable for use outside of the UK.”

The sales page has since changed in the intervening hours. While Amazon is still taking pre-orders, it does so with the following disclaimer, which is a revision of the above note (at time of writing):

“Due to limited stock we are only able to offer one unit per customer per address. We do not currently have a release date for this product. Based on our initial allocation we cannot guarantee release day delivery. You will be notified via email of the expected delivery date closer to the time. We will be fulfilling customer orders in the order in which they were placed. This product comes with a UK plug and therefore may not be suitable for use outside of the UK.”

GAME in the UK is still offering pre-orders, but only in-store and with a £100 deposit:

Overclockers UK Introduce Room Scale VR in Association With Vive

Virtual Reality, or VR for short, is the big thing of 2016. While it isn’t new in itself, this is the year where consumers will get the chance to enter this field and there is no shortage presented VR headsets. But VR is one of those things that is tough to describe and it is also tough to show off with traditional videos and images; it is something that has to be experienced first hand to fully get what it is all about and be able to grasp the full concept.

Overclockers UK is known for its line-up of gaming ready PCs in all sizes and calibers and they’re naturally on board with VR too. They’ve now proudly announced the extension to their showroom that will provide a permanent Vive Room Scale VR Experience in the Midlands.

The new Room Scale VR allows users with a Vive to move around and interact with a virtual environment while staying in the comfort of their own home. Overclockers UK created this new 20 square meters sized showroom to allow users to truly test this experience using hardware built together by Overclockers UK and that has been Virtual Reality Certified.

The Overclockers UK Room Scale VR Experience is set to launch with a special event, which will take place at the Overclockers UK Newcastle-Under-Lyme showroom on the 19th of March. This event is open to the public and there is an online booking system in place allowing users to reserve their very own VR Experience.

You don’t need to worry if you can’t make it on March the 19th as the Room Scale VR Experience will be a permanent feature at the Overclockers UK store. Besides the showroom, Overclockers UK also launched a new mini-site that is a collection of all the relevant VR information.

The Vive headset needs to be powered by something and OC UK has new and certified systems ready for the Vive, starting with the entry level system for £749 and moving up to the titan that starts at £1314.95. As always, you can further configure and modify these systems before you purchase.Virtual Reality hardware can also be purchased directly with everything from upgrade parts to your current system on to VR compatible peripherals. All in one place, and now also live testable.

Virtual Reality hardware can also be purchased directly with everything from upgrade parts to your current system on to VR compatible peripherals. All in one place, and now also live testable.

Elite: Dangerous Confirmed to Have Official Oculus Rift Support

Today, the Founder and CEO of Frontier Developments, David Braben, formally revealed in an interview with Ars Technica that popular space-sim, Elite: Dangerous, will have official support for the Oculus Rift. Elite: Dangerous was one of the first major games to include support for the Rift’s development kits, so this revelation is not entirely unexpected, despite the game lacking direct compatibility with later versions of the Oculus Rift SDK.

“We’re going to be on the Oculus store,” he revealed. “We’re supporting [the Oculus Rift runtime] one point naught and the consumer release at launch, which is March 28.” While Elite: Dangerous had already been patched to include support for SteamVR, making it possible to enjoy the game on your VR headset of choice, including the Rift DK2 and Vive Pre headsets, Frontier had not made any clear announcements on their stance for VR support going forwards.

What this means is that as well as Elite: Dangerous being available on the Oculus Rift storefront from day 1, including native support for the 1.0 runtime and SDK, Rift support for existing versions of the game purchased from Steam or Frontier themselves will be added via a free patch. This will provide an identical VR experience across all versions of the game (and even across headsets, such as the HTC Vive.)  When asked which headset he prefers to use personally, Braben’s only answer was a huge smile and that “Both parties have treated us very well.”

No doubt players will have a VR headset of choice in the future, but this official adoption of Oculus Rift support will surely bring attention to the soon-to-be-released headset. No doubt it will be argued which of the two is better in the near future when both devices are released, all we can hope for is that the players are the real winners in this!

Meta 2 Development Kit Revealed

The Meta is known for being the forefront of augmented reality. Much like virtual reality, Augmented reality is based on the user seeing virtual objects but instead of it being on an isolated screen, augmented reality lets you bring virtual objects to life. That dream of an Iron Man experience is one step closer thanks to the Meta 2 Development Kit.

The new development kit contains all you need to start programming your augmented reality programs. Included with the Meta 2 headset you will get the source development kit (SDK) and the Meta operating environment while the Meta headset itself contains some impressive specs.

The resolution the “screens” displayed at is 2560×1440, being captured through a 720p camera that will give you a whole new level of detail in your interactions and visual manifestations of your dreams.

Four speakers and a 6-axis measurement unit mean that your whole experience will respond with the sensors to track your hands, giving you everything you need to see, hear and interact with your minority report like Minority Report like wall of screens.

At $949 the Meta 2 Kit is not for those who are looking for a quick thrill, but for those who are interested in the experience and developing for augmented reality, the product ships in the third quarter of this year.

EA Believes The Mainstream VR Market is ‘a Few Years Off’

Virtual Reality is often perceived as the future of home entertainment and has the potential to offer unique experiences with a whole new level of immersion. However, VR devices have a very high barrier to entry and out of the reach of most people’s budget. This is a shame because there’s a lot of publicity surrounding VR and its future place within the gaming industry. As you might expect, VR technology is still fairly niche and it doesn’t make sense for publishers to fund huge VR projects. This is because they will not receive a return on their investment and alienate the majority of their user-base. EA’s CFO Blake Jorgensen, predicted during a presentation at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference that mainstream VR could be be some time off:

“We are very prepared for being able to build VR games. We have made an investment over the last five years to move to a single engine that we built all our games on”

“We are experimenting with a couple of a different players today that are VR players and we are making some small [experimental] titles rather than full blown games. The fundamental issue is that we need to create a large market in VR before we invest 50 to 100 million dollars in a big title. And when I say a large market, today there are 80 or 60 million new gen consoles, Xbox and PlayStation, sitting on the top of 150 million older generation consoles so that is a larger market. ”

“VR will be great and there are going to be a lot of applications for that including gaming. But I think it will be a few years off before we have a substantial VR market. We are prepared about it, we are excited about it, we can see some experiments coming out from our studio in the years to come that will help people understand the power [of VR].”

I think this is an optimistic viewpoint because VR technology requires a lot of graphical horsepower, and the devices themselves will probably remain expensive for some time. Eventually, prices will fall and this should encourage people to take a risk and give VR a try!

Google Cardboard Can Now Be Brought In the Google Store

Google cardboard is a simple, low-tech, virtual reality system. The concept is simple, why buy technology you already have? By using your smartphone, you don’t have to go out and buy expensive hardware a second time around, meaning that the only thing left to do was keep the phone near to your eyes. Google cardboard does just that and now you can even get it through the Google store.

In a unique twist, Google has so far only sold the Cardboard through third parties, meaning that in order to grab the device (does it even count as a device if it’s just cardboard?) you had to find someone else online selling it. This has now changed with Google launching an entire VR section on their website, including the Cardboard for a low price. Costing only $15 for a single unit, or if you wanted to double up it would only cost you $25. At this moment in time, the Cardboard has sold out meaning that you may have to wait a little before enjoying the benefits of low-cost virtual reality.

With virtual reality and even augmented reality solutions being released this year, experiencing the world of VR before you pay out hundreds of pounds may be a good idea. So far the Cardboard has made a large impact, with Doctors even using it to save lives. What do you think? Is it worth buying to mount a phone to your head or is it the start of your journey with VR technology?

Vive Now Available for Pre-Order

The Vive virtual reality headset – a collaboration between HTC and Valve – is now available for pre-order, with the first shipments to begin on 5th April, 2016. The HTC Vive, which recently won “Best in Show” at CES 2016,  includes two wireless VR controllers, room scale movement, 360° tracking, and an HMD with a built-in camera, to provide “what many critics are calling the most convincing VR experience launching this year,” according to the official press release.

“We are delighted to help usher in the next generation of virtual reality,” Cher Wang of HTC said. “Launching Vive with Valve has helped us ignite the creativity of thousands of content developers around the world.”

Pre-orders will include the games Tilt Brush from Google, Fantastic Contraption from Northway and Radial Games, and Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives from Owlchemy Labs.

“Our collaboration with HTC and the VR development community has allowed us to create the most compelling and complete VR solution,” Valve’s Gabe Newell added. “In the coming weeks, many of these developers will launch an incredible first generation of VR titles to consumers around the world.”

To test whether your system is equipped to run the HTC Vive, Steam has released the SteamVR application.

The HTC Vive is priced at £746.60/$829, including shipping.