GDC 2016 - Oculus Doubles Down On Mobile VR With Minecraft
Mobile drives virtual reality forward
This week at GDC, Oculus held a special event to reveal Minecraft in VR. Only this time it wouldn't be for the high-end Oculus Rift as we’ve previously seen, it was in fact for the Gear VR.
As part of the event I was able to enter the block filled landscape of Minecraft on the Gear VR. Not only did it look and feel excellent, being quick, responsive and beautiful to look at, but it was hard to tell that you were only playing this on your phone, and not some high-end PC.
However, Minecraft on the Gear VR may have far wider reaching implications for the future of VR when it is released this Spring. At least that’s what Oculus VR chief technology officer John Carmack, one of the men behind the iconic first-person shooters Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake, thinks.
Both when taking the stand to address the gathered press, and when talking with him one to one, Carmack was very keen to focus on how mobile VR will be the driving force in VR for quite a while to come. In fact, he already believes that the Gear VR is superior to other VR devices, thanks to its portable nature, and the ability to completely turn in a 360 degree motion.
That’s on top of its extremely affordable price point of $99. All of which Carmack believes makes the Gear VR the perfect first step for many into virtual reality, and the unique experiences only it can bring.
He also believes that just like in the early 90s when the First Person Shooter genre was breaking new ground, virtual reality is the perfect place in the industry to be right now. This right now is a genesis point for VR, a place which is all about new experiences and ways to play, and as such no longer predictable. And for Carmack, mobile VR is the perfect place to experience this, and from where to grow VR and all of the various experiences it brings.
Nevertheless, having Minecraft on the Gear VR is a massive boost for the platform, and one that will bring many into the VR fold. In fact, Carmack went as far as to say that in the year where VR finally goes mainstream, Minecraft for Gear VR “is going to be the most important game in VR this year.”
Nowadays Carmack has completely dedicated himself to the development of VR for mobile devices, believing that mobile VR will pave the way for millions to experience virtual reality. After both personally speaking with him, and having tested out various Gear VR games this week at GDC including Minecraft, it’s hard to argue with his analysis.