The Rift S is upon us soon. Many Rift fans were disappointed because they had hoped for a Rift 2, a headset that would not only replace the OG Rift but feel like a substantial upgrade. Something that the Valve Index seems to promise now.
There are still quite a few people who hope for a Rift 2. In my opinion, a Rift 2 that VR enthusiasts would approve of is not going to happen and in this article I am giving you 5 reasons why I believe so. Here they are:
Reason 1: Brendan Iribe Would Not Have Left Oculus If There Was A Future For The Rift 2
The most obvious reason: if Oculus wanted to build a Rift 2, they would have done so now and we would not get the Rift S instead. Facebook has made a strategic decision against the Rift 2, against a headset that enthusiasts would love but that would also increase hardware requirements for consumers. Brendan Iribe, cofounder of Oculus and the person working on the Rift 2 had therefore left the company because he did not want to participate in this “race to the bottom”. If the Rift 2 had not been cancelled for good but only postponed, he probably would have stayed on board.
Reason 2: Quest Is The Future, Rift Is The Past
The Quest is the actual star of the show for Oculus. That has several reasons, one of the important ones is the bottom line. Oculus simply will earn more money per Quest owner than they would per Rift owner. You have to look at the customer lifetime value (LTV) here. PCVR headset customers expect the VR glasses to be able to also access other stores than the Oculus one. It is taken for granted that you should have access to at least SteamVR and probably also to the Viveport store that just got more interesting due to its Infinity subscription model. Rift owners are not really limited to one store and therefore they can spend their dollars elsewhere.
For the Quest, customers will be locked into the walled garden that is the Quest store. And nobody will actually complain about it. So LTV of Quest owners should be dramatically higher than that of Rift owners. Taking into consideration that the hurdles for consumers are also lower to get into the Quest ecosystem as compared to the Rift one since they do not need a gaming PC, you have a clear winner here. That also explains the rather high asking price of $399 for the Rift S, a $299 price tag would most probably have been possible, but it would have cannibalized their Quest sales and as we have just found out: the Quest is the actual star of the show.
Reason 3: Rift And Quest Stores Will Merge Into Only The Quest Store
Oculus is a consumer-facing company and therefore must streamline their product offerings. They must make it simple for people to spend their money on games. Having two separate stores, the Rift store and the Quest store simply does not make sense on the long run. It is too complicated for customers and people will wonder why they have to pay twice for the same game. Yes, there is Cross Buy, but it is not mandatory for developers to enable that function. So there will be games that have to be bought both for the Quest and for the Rift and that is confusing at least.
Having two stores is a necessity right now but in the next generation of the Quest line, I predict that the Quest and Rift stores will merge into just the Quest store. But how will it be possible to play titles like Lone Echo or Stormland on the Quest 2 you wonder. Well, that brings us to…
Reason 4: We Will Stream Our VR Games Soon
We are experiencing exciting times. We are just about to witness another paradigm shift. Away from running games locally from our gaming PCs and consoles, and towards streaming our games from the cloud. Stadia, Google’s cloud gaming platform is the best indicator. It is going to launch in this year and will probably fundamentally change the way how games are distributed and played. It is not our next gaming PC or our next console that is going to render our games, the cloud is going to do that for us. We will not have to worry about upgrading to the latest graphics card or buying that next iteration of the PlayStation or XBox. The same is going to happen for our VR games. We will stream our games through a 5G connection and Lone Echo or Stormland will simply be rendered by the Facebook servers instead of having to do so locally. The upcoming HTC Vive Cosmos is even ready for that streaming future in 2019 by allowing people to get content via a 5G mobile phone that is connected to the Cosmos. The Quest 2 will allow for that as well and there is absolutely no future for another headset that would fragment the Oculus ecosystem like a Rift 2 would do. However, this does not mean that the research done to enable wider FOVs or better displays will not one time show up in one of the future Quest headsets.
Reason 5: Rift 2 Does Not Fit Into Facebook’s VR Strategy
Mark Zuckerberg has proclaimed Facebook’s VR strategy. Bringing 1 billion people into Virtual Reality. That simply does not work with a Rift 2 that enthusiasts would have approved of. It is so simple, the Rift 2 simply does not fit into the overall strategy and therefore it was cancelled. And even though there has been an outcry of Rift fans who feel that their loyalty to Oculus has not been rewarded with a proper update, most probably Facebook has done exactly the right thing in order to strengthen the overall VR ecosystem. We simply need more people in VR so that developers can live from investing their time and resources into new VR games and applications. And that simply would not have been the case with another few hundred thousand sold Rift 2 devices, no matter how happy this would have made us VR enthusiasts on the short run. Facebook is thinking long term and in my opinion that is the right call.
What are your thoughts? Would you agree with my reasoning or do you believe there will still be a Rift 2 somewhere down the line? Please let me know in the comment section below!