As many VR gamers are aware, the Game Developers Conference was canceled this year due to coronavirus fears. However, organizations are doing what they can to participate in the space anyway.
Facebook, owners of VR tech giant Oculus, launched the Facebook Game Developers Showcase as their alternative offering. The event, which launched Monday and concludes Wednesday, will include special videos and blogpost announcements on both Facebook’s social games and VR games by Oculus.
With that, let’s look into the launch.
An Introduction to FB’s Alternative to GDC
Facebook introduced the event with a brief video Monday featuring the Director of Content Ecosystems at Oculus, Chris Pruett, and Facebook Global Director of Games and Partnerships, Leo Olebe.
“It’s really important that we have this opportunity to discuss these things even though we can’t physically be at GDC,” said Pruett.
Pruett said that over the next three days, content covered would include the future of multiplayer VR games, best practices for VR business, and information on how to launch experiences on the Oculus marketplace.
“As of today, we have over twenty titles that have created over $1M in revenue on Quest alone,” said Pruett. “We’re actually actively expanding the market for who uses VR.”
The first day wasn’t only the intro video. Three major announcements were also made.
The Updated Quest System
The first major announcement of the day involved a big update to the Quest System.
“As a step toward that future, we’re unveiling a major update to the Oculus Quest system experience that makes VR more flexible, social, and easy to use than ever before,” read a post on the update. “It comes with a completely redesigned universal menu, new immersive overlays, and multi-window support for 2D apps starting with Oculus Browser—and these updates are launching as Experimental Features later this month.”
The menu comes with personalization options that will make it easier for users to navigate to their favorite experiences. Overlays make it easy to multitask with simultaneously running apps.
Creating in OpenXR
The second major announcement foretold a prototype version of OpenXR. SDKs should be launching in the coming weeks.
“OpenXR will help reduce overhead for VR/AR developers and hopefully provide consumers with more choice,” said the post. “OpenXR aims to simplify VR development by enabling developers to reach more platforms while reusing the same code.”
Other platforms, particularly Magic Leap have historically been very good about helping their developers make cross-platform content. However, seeing that kind of a move from Oculus is exciting for VR gamers and developers alike.
Redoing IAPs and DLC
The final big announcement of the day involved how the Oculus platform handles downloadable content and in-app purchases.
Facebook Games practically invented in-app purchases early on and it makes sense that they’re bringing the technology to Oculus.
Similarly, while Oculus has been pioneering wireless and all-in-one headsets for a while now, they initially launched as a PC-based headset. Many of their models, namely their flagship, Rift, still require a PC. Downloadable Content is a huge part of PC gaming, whether you’re involved in the VR game scene or not.
Oculus is supported by the online gaming platform Steam, which has long allowed DLC. Similarly, Oculus has allowed DLC since 2018. However, the feature has been clunky. Seeing them revisit it is definitely exciting.
We’ll Keep You Posted
While not all of Facebook Game’s content is VR game content, we can only imagine that we’ll have a lot to look forward to in the coming days. Even if it isn’t the GDC that many of us looked forward to.