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10 Issues Concerning the Oculus Quest

Full disclosure – I love the Oculus Quest, and it’ll help lead us into the future of gaming. I couldn’t get into the first wave of shipments, but I received my headset soon afterward. If I saw this article within my first week, half of me would think they were minor concerns, while the other half would make me cautious; I’m glad I jumped in. However, these issues have been on some people’s minds since the launch. So without further ado, here are 10 things concerning the Quest that I think people need to consider carefully.

1. Apple & Sony Are Coming

Sony mentioned that they won’t release a new VR system in the same year as the PS51FELTHAM, J. PSVR 2 Won’t Launch Alongside PS5, Sony Suggests
http://uploadvr.com/psvr-2-ps5-launch
, which means we will likely see PSVR2 (whatever they call it) between 2021-2023. PSVR hasn’t been as immersive as PC headsets, which I’m sure Sony will want to address with the next version, especially if it can take advantage of the PS5’s increased power. Even if many enthusiasts don’t think a PSVR2 could be comparable to any PC-based system, they wouldn’t mind adding Sony’s library to Steam’s offerings. In fact, they were eager to port PT over.

Apple is hiring people for their AR/VR team from top to bottom2HORWITZ, J. Apple lists AR/VR jobs, reportedly taps executive who finalizes products https://venturebeat.com/2019/08/01/apple-lists-ar-vr-jobs-reportedly-taps-executive-who-finalizes-products/ , and they’re positioning themselves to push the product in 2020 or soon after. This new device could do double duty as a fully immersive system and as an iPhone interface. If someone can convince a lot of people to buy hardware that they didn’t know they wanted, it’s that company from Cupertino.

2. Facebook Collects Your Info

issues concerning the oculus quest
Image courtesy of Pixabay.

You shopped for a TV, asked for opinions from your friends, and now you’re seeing ads for specials in your newsfeed. The Oculus Quest is an appliance with 4 cameras, a microphone, a browser, and a software-based keyboard. Hopefully, it won’t laugh at us like Alexa.

3. Should Buyers Wait Until August 2020?

Let’s begin with the Rift- it started at $599 for the headset in Mar 2016, and the Touch controllers debuted at $199 in Dec. In March 2017, Oculus reduced the prices of the headset and controllers to $499 and $99 respectively. Then, the combined price was dropped to $399 in July of that year. They literally slashed the price by 50% in roughly 15 months.3BAIG, E. Oculus Rift slashes prices for second time in four months https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2017/07/10/oculus-rift-slashes-prices-second-time-four-months/463381001/

Then they produced the Go, released in May 2018. That began at $199 and $249 for the 32GB and 64GB versions. Again, in almost 15 months, you could purchase them at a discount- $40 off each on Amazon ($159 and $209)4SMITH, A. This deal is for real; the Oculus Go standalone VR headset just reached its best price yet
https://www.androidcentral.com/thrifter-deal-oculus-go-standalone-virtual-reality-headset-july-2019
. If Apple launches VR/AR glasses next summer…

4. Oculus Wants Quantity of Sales over Quality of Experience

The co-founder and former CEO of Oculus, Brendan Iribe, left Facebook over the company’s shift towards the Quest and away from a proper generational upgrade for the Rift. 5MATNEY, L. Oculus co-founder is leaving Facebook after cancellation of ‘Rift 2’ headset
https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/22/oculus-co-founder-is-leaving-facebook-after-cancellation-of-rift-2-headset/
The incremental updates salvaged from this relationship became the Rift S, which received less overall praise than the tetherless Quest. In fact, Tom’s Hardware mentioned “If you’re shopping for your first VR setup, it’s worth considering. But no one should upgrade to the Rift S.”6CARBOTTE, K. Oculus Rift S Review: First-Gen VR Gets a Reboot
https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/oculus-rift-s-vr-headset,6148.html
On paper, the Quest’s specs are similar to the Rift S’; it’s another first-gen device instead of an improved iteration that everyone wanted.

5. Valve Leads the Spec Curve Now

issues concerning the oculus quest
Image courtesy of Valve.

The Quest doesn’t need a PC and wires as the Valve Index does. However, the “Knuckles” controllers, higher resolution, faster refresh rate, and over-ear speakers7TUCKER, J Valve Index Headset: Price, release date, specs for Valve’s new VR headset https://www.trustedreviews.com/news/valve-index-headset-release-date-news-specs-price-3688519 will provide a higher quality experience when paired with a gaming computer that can take advantage of it. If the headset didn’t cost 2.5x as much as a Quest for a complete setup, Oculus might be worried.

6. The Broader Public Hasn’t Caught On Yet

Google Trends reports that the number of searches for Oculus Quest have been lower than those for Nintendo Switch and PS5 over the past few months, albeit higher than those for Valve Index and PSVR8Google Trends
https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=2019-05-16%202019-08-16&geo=US&q=oculus%20quest,valve%20index,psvr,nintendo%20switch,ps5
.

What this means is that the Quest is leading the VR market, but needs more eyes in headsets to bring the experience to the masses and capitalize on their first to (tetherless) market position. Variety magazine is cautious in reporting on the Quest’s success, saying “Facebook’s new Oculus Quest VR headset is seeing solid sales, but it doesn’t seem to be a blockbuster.”9ROETTGERS, J. Early Oculus Quest Data Suggests Solid Sales, But No Blockbuster Number https://variety.com/2019/digital/news/oculus-quest-sales-data-1203239945/

gameboy
The Gameboy had low-res graphics but was very portable.

This reminds me of the original Game Boy- will people accept lower graphic fidelity to have a portable system? The answer then was yes. Will people tune out who they’re with as they immerse themselves in another world? The answer then was yes. Will this generation forgo 4k graphics to rip the head off of a robot in RoboRecall? Will casting to a TV be just as social as huddling around a tiny handheld screen? Let’s find out. Additionally, a VR headset is more than just a gaming platform, and you’ll be able to watch movies with friends in other towns; you can even make new ones if you don’t know anyone with a headset.

However, I also remember how difficult it was to get a copy of Super Mario Bros 2 for Christmas in 1998.10STOSSEL, J. NUTS FOR NINTENDO special on ABC news 20/20 from 1988
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yt4KG9ib8S4
Are the shortages artificial? It would be embarrassing to have the Quest sit on 10 shelves, and I have yet to see any sales figures from Facebook. I’m sure SuperData has an opinion, but I’d prefer to see numbers from the primary source. I predict we won’t see them until they’ve hit 1M, and they find a way to explain away any production or shipping delays which may or may not have happened.

7. The Separate Quest Store

issues concerning the oculus quest
SideQuest is very popular, but can it survive?

You have to research cross-buy titles that are available between the Rift and the Quest; SuperHot and Beat Saber, two of the most popular VR titles, aren’t among them.11HAMILTON, I. Superhot, Beat Saber, And Moss Won’t Support Oculus Quest Cross-Buy
http://uploadvr.com/superhot-beat-saber-moss-cross-buy
As for any arrangements between Steam and Quest, it’s up to a developer’s charity to help you save money. Does sideloading remind you of the fun and value of modding PC games? Well, at any moment, an update from Oculus could make Sidequest incompatible. They made Virtual Desktop remove their compatibility with Steam less than a month after launch.12HORWITZ, J. Oculus forces Virtual Desktop to stop streaming SteamVR apps to Quest
https://venturebeat.com/2019/06/12/oculus-forces-virtual-desktop-to-stop-streaming-steamvr-apps-to-quest/
It makes sense to sell relatively inexpensive hardware at below cost if Oculus can make money from licensing / certification; other software channels will cut into that revenue, and Facebook needs to pay dividends to investors.

8. One Size Fits No One

In trying to appeal to everyone, many people are slightly uncomfortable. Some users get slight headaches, and the nose space lets in light. For me, the front heavy Quest necessitates balancing the weight with a webbing of velcro tape so my suboccipital muscles, temples, and cheeks feel an equal amount of strain. Others use $20 straps, counterweights, or replace the head harness. There are also $40 grips that can keep the controller’s battery cover from sliding off when making slashing or throwing motions. If you want to show off your Quest, you may as well take all of your comfort mods off if your friends have different faces and head shapes/sizes. If you use prescription eyewear, that’s another paragraph for someone else to write; I’m trying to keep my eyesight as long as I can.

9. They’re Still Working on Tracking

tracking issues
Perfect tracking is still a work in progress.

It almost makes me nostalgic for external sensors. I’m beginning to wonder if 4 cameras on the Quest is enough. The 7.0 update spares me from having to wave the slingshot hand around in Angry Birds before every shot, but there are still unsliced boxes in Beat Saber that I know I should have received points for. Motion tracking is much more complicated than gamepads, but the 8bit Nintendo would never have become popular if Mario didn’t jump whenever you pressed A, no matter how often you blamed the controller.

10. Miscellaneous Issues

For every person on Reddit that says any of the following affects them, someone agrees, someone says it never happens to them, and more people suggest tier-one troubleshooting steps like rebooting and an uninstall/reinstall:

Force closes – I would like to play Robo Recall for an hour without having to redo a level because the game froze. Yes, I still enjoy replaying that game. Too bad I’m reminded of my old HTC Hero whenever I reload it.

Audio crackling – I’m still waiting for a fix from Oculus. I get that improving tracking was a greater priority, and still may be, especially since a reboot seems to help with the audible popping and distortion. It’s just that sometimes, it takes 2 or 3 reboots.

Reset view – I’ve accepted that I need to lift my headset after every game/application to figure out where I’m physically facing since the Quest will reorient my home screen to a different direction. I’m safe as long as I stay within the Guardian, but I’d like to know if two forward steps will lead me into the coffee table or the piano.

Have I told anyone to avoid buying a Quest? Not at all. If Oculus gave me another unit, I’d become a street preacher for them. However, effective proselytization requires knowing people’s concerns and potential counter-arguments. We have to move beyond preaching to the choir if we want the increased software development that comes with a larger community. Once we listen to those who are outside of our safe echo chambers, we can all reach a heavenly digital nirvana. That peaceful place will have an Oculus logo if Facebook can capture and retain the market before hordes of Sony and Apple faithful start pounding at the gates.