To date, Oculus has shipped two standalone headsets: Oculus Go and Oculus Quest. The company announced today that the earlier Oculus Go is being discontinued because the company will focus on six-degrees-of-freedom (6DOF) headsets such as the Quest from now on. No new app or app updates will be accepted after December 4, and the company won’t add new apps after December 18, 2020. (The 14-day difference is to allow for the final app review and approval process.)
Owners will still receive bug fixes and security updates through the end of 2022, but no new features will be developed for the headset. Instead, the company will switch its focus to the Oculus Quest and continue attempting to build that ecosystem. According to Oculus, people have spent more than $ 100M on Oculus Quest, with over 20 games breaking the $ 1M revenue mark and more than 10 games over $ 2M.
More than anything, those figures emphasize how small the VR market truly is, and I’m not sure how to parse them as far as what they say about long-term PC market growth and sustainability. The global PC gaming market was valued at $ 27.73B in 2018. Even if we toss in the value of Oculus’ hardware sales, the total amount of revenue generated by VR is fractional compared with the larger space. It’ll be interesting to see how Half-Life: Alyx changed things in 2020.
The Oculus Go was a low-cost ($ 149) standalone headset based on the Snapdragon 821, with 32GB or 64GB of storage. The headset offered a 5.5-inch 2560×1440 display (1280×1440 per eye), with a refresh rate of 60-72Hz. The Go lacked features like positional tracking and the dual handheld controllers featured on the Rift and Quest, but the company still moved more than two million units in over a year, and retention rates were reportedly high.
The Oculus Quest ($ 399) could be thought of as the Oculus Go+. Like the Go, it’s a standalone headset, but it runs on significantly more powerful hardware thanks to the Snapdragon 835, and it uses a higher-resolution 1440×1600 per-eye display. Unlike the Go, the Quest is suitable for room-scale applications and full positional tracking. It can also attach to computers for use as a PC VR headset, though the solution isn’t quite as high-fidelity as a dedicated Oculus Rift S headset.
Going forward, Oculus will spend more effort developing for Quest, including a new method of distributing Quest games and apps to gamers without using either the Oculus Store or needing to go through the sideloading process. The company also notes that “apps distributed through this new channel won’t be held to the same technical standards as official Oculus Store apps.”
Oculus is hoping that some of its Go devs will pivot to Quest now that the lower-cost platform is sunsetting, but the fact that the company will allow gamers to load non-Store games next year is a fairly significant change for the platform.
Oculus Go customers will have to decide if they want to upgrade to a different platform– a recommendation it would be easier to make if there was a little more clarity on the Oculus hardware roadmap. There were rumors of an Oculus Quest 2 debuting at this years’ Oculus Connect, but reports from May suggested that Facebook would push the launch back to 2021 due to the impact of coronavirus. It would be nice to know if Go customers with end-of-life hardware should be planning to buy a new headset in, say, November, or if they should plan to wait until sometime in 2021 to pull the trigger.
Given the rapid improvements between the Go and the Quest, I’d expect the Quest 2 to be a fair improvement over the current hardware.