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 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.

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.

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.

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

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!

Palmer Luckey Comments On Why Oculus Rift Doesn’t Support Mac

It would seem like Mac-using fans of the Oculus Rift may just be out of luck. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey spoke to ShackNews at an Xbox event and had some harsh comments about the popular Apple computers. His response to the question of whether the upcoming Oculus Rift would ever be compatible with Mac OS was simply “That is up to Apple. If they ever release a good computer, we will do it.”

While this may immediately seem like a comment aimed squarely at insulting Macs, it actually refers to Apple’s reluctance to utilize high-performance GPUs in their computers, instead settling for the anemic Intel integrated chipsets in the majority of their computers.

“You can buy a $6,000 Mac Pro with the top of the line AMD FirePro D700, and it still doesn’t match our recommended specs,” Luckey stated. “So if they prioritize higher-end GPUs like they used to for a while back in the day, we’d love to support Mac. But right now, there’s just not a single machine out there that supports it.”

The result is that despite the high cost of Macs pricing them at or above many powerful gaming PCs capable of handling VR. Regular and power users simply do not need the power of high-end GPUs and a Mac capable of handling the Rift would likely just inflate the price even further. Will Apple ever make a Mac capable of handling the Oculus Rift, or other VR headsets? It seems likely,  as they wouldn’t want to be left behind the curve on VR and AR products, though whether they later come out with their own specialist hardware instead of compatibility with existing products remains to be seen.

HTC Confirms Date of Vive VR Headset Pre-Orders

HTC has confirmed the date on which it will begin taking pre-orders for its Vive VR headset. Cher Wang, CEO of HTC, has told The Telegraph that pre-orders of the Vive, produced in conjunction with Valve, will be available from 29th February.

Five years ago, HTC was one of the leading smartphone manufacturers, but after a decline in quality of its handsets and the emergence of Chinese upstarts Xiaomi and Huawei saw the company fall into financial disarray, with dire predictions that it could fold within two years. Wang, however, sees the company’s refocus on virtual reality as the key to reviving its fortunes.

“Yes, smartphones are important, but to create a natural extension to other connected devices like wearables and virtual reality is more important,” Wang told The Telegraph.

HTC showed off its latest Vive headset, the second-generation developer kit Vive Pre, at CES in Las Vegas last week, showing off a refined version of the headset that debuted at the Mobile World Congress last year.

“Now we are more realistic,” Wang said on the future of HTC. “We feel that we should apply our best design to different type of sectors.”

HTC is yet to reveal how much the Vive VR headset will cost when pre-orders go live on 29th February.

Project Morpheus for PS4 Photos and Demo Screenshots Revealed

Sony Computer Entertainment has revealed photos of its sleek new Project Morpheus model for PlayStation 4. The device could be the best-looking virtual reality headset yet, putting the bulky, blocky lines of the Oculus Rift to shame.

As well as photos of the headset, Sony has included screenshots from in-development demos, The DeepThe London Heist, and Magic Controller.

Source: DualShockers

HTC to Release Virtual Reality Headset in March

Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC is to launch its first virtual reality headset this March, according to Chinese newspaper Commercial Times.

VR headsets are certainly en vogue. Prompted by the impressive Oculus Rift, we’ve since seen the Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard, and Microsoft HoloLens. Like those, HTC’s offering will be a head-mounted display.

HTC announced a move into smart home and IoT (Internet of Things) technology at CES2015 back in January, and the VR headset will be the first product from the company’s new Connected Entertainment project, guided by co-founder and CEO Peter Chou.

Source: Want China Times

Oculus Rift Allowed Dying Grandmother To Explore The World

Cancer is one of those horrible words we all hope we never hear, it hits so many peoples lives and while many forms of it are now treatable, it can also be fatal. For Roberta Firstenberg, her long battle with cancer had left her weak and no longer able to venture outsite. Roberta’s granddaughter Priscilla, just so happens to be a game artist and developer, giving her a unique position to help Roberta, allowing her grandmother to step outside again by using the VR technology of Oculus Rift.

The Oculus Rift headset is a virtual reality device, allowing you to look around your digital surroundings with incredible accuracy, and having used one myself I can confirm that the sensation is nothing short of mindblowing. However, I can’t imagine how incredible it much have been for Roberta to feel some sense of freedom again. Priscilla contacted Oculus in the hopes of getting Roberta a dev kit to use, and they responded with exactly that. As you can see in the video, Roberta got straight into the action of the Oculus Tuscany demo, allowing her to glide around, climb stairs, explore and toy around with butterflies. She even managed to explore using Google Maps thanks to a special mod. Unfortunately Roberta passed away just four week later, but this is an awesome use of technology and Priscilla did a truly great thing, which may inspire new ways of helping those unable to venture into the world due to illness.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/o5eIHyFYFMM[/youtube]

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of The Verge.