The annual Oculus Connect conference was renamed Facebook Connect starting this year in their seventh edition. Now that Facebook plans to have a bigger presence in their Oculus brand and make Virtual Reality into a more mainstream technology it’s been their strategy to associate the Oculus brand with Facebook which is a debate on its own that we have taken a look at before. Oculus Connect has always been a way to show what the future of not only Oculus but of VR as well with plans of what’s been developed for the past year as well as new releases of products. What can we expect from the first branded Facebook Connect 7 this year then?
Oculus Quest Future: Quest 2 / Lite / Pro or Go 2?
As we have seen from the leaks there is a white Oculus head set that is being released this year that goes by the code name Point Reyes with some people speculating whether it’s an Oculus Quest 2 that brings us an updated version of the Quest that is more in line with the Oculus Rift S. But it is not likely to be this at all simply because the tech is not there yet for huge improvements without adding a lot of cost to the product. What Facebook wants is to make VR more accessible and releasing a superior product that is more powerful isn’t going to do that.
Now we also have the option that this is an Oculus Go successor since Facebook recently discontinued the product but this is also a reason of why we’re not getting an Oculus Go 2 since they want to move on from 3DOF and the specifically mentioned that. 3DoF has been available for a few years now with products like Samsung Gear VR and even Google Cardboard. That technology isn’t going to make a much bigger impact than it already has even if on better hardware unlike 6DoF is what gives that extra feeling of immersion when in VR.
So is it a Quest Pro or a Quest Lite? The answer might be a little bit of both while leaning a bit more on the lite side of things, from what we were able to get from leaks this is being made from slightly cheaper parts and materials to achieve a more consumer friendly $299 price. Power will likely not be sacrificed since they don’t want to segment another user base with a different store so it will be 6DoF and be compatible with the Quest store despite corners being cut elsewhere.
With that said the feedback from the original Quest has been heard so expect this new version to be lighter and easier to use, the processor might actually also be more powerful if it’s cheaper to order parts because they’re more readily available. This is also without mentioning that there will be a 256 GB model. A slight improvement then without feeling as premium as the original Quest, and helps give the Quest more life before the eventual Quest 2 shows up.
We have now seen a bit of Facebook Horizon and it’s now in beta, it’s basically a Facebook branded version of RecRoom or VRChat and soon it will be open to other countries with an eventual launch. They are going to be hyping this up since Facebook believes this is their killer app for VR, they have learned from other apps like Oculus Venues and they want to make sure they have the social app for VR, their own Oasis From Ready Player One. I’m not sure if it’ll be able to live up to their expectations but you can be sure that they’ll be putting quite a bit of marketing and money behind it to make it happen and as big as RecRoom and VRChat are I can see a new player leaving those two behind, just unsure if it’s Facebook Horizon but this is the reason the Oculus has been Facebook branded despite not being a popular move with the fans.
Oculus Rift S 2?
It is not likely at all that we’re getting a new Rift, especially since the Quest is the new flagship product for Oculus and Facebook; normal people don’t want to connect gaming rigs to a headset to experience VR. An Oculus Rift S 2 won’t be happening for a while for that reason, especially since Oculus Link helps provide that extra power some games might need to the already wireless Quest. A Rift S 2 is bound to happen eventually when VR tech advances and other competitors have far superior tethered headsets since Facebook won’t want to be left behind, but for the most part you can tell the Rift S is won’t be a priority anymore.
We have talked about about Facebook’s plans with Oculus before and we will in the future but we will also see a little more of that integration at Facebook Connect 7, they made the announcements early since they knew they weren’t going to be popular and wanted the presentation to not be overshadowed by that so they announced it ahead of time to avoid any of it. We will still get more information on where exactly Facebook plans to continue their connectivity. Will it be the Facebook Quest 2? Is Oculus is a brand dead? Most likely not, but they want you to know that it’s Facebook’s Oculus and not Oculus by Facebook. We will see similar push on Whatsapp and Instagram as well eventually but for now they want everything to be under Facebook’s Umbrella to be seen as more of it, instead of separating itself from it.
Future of VR
As with past Oculus Connect events they will give us a glimpse of the future of Virtual Reality, in a way the events remind us a lot of Macworld events where we’re seeing the latest technology being unveiled and copycats following after. We saw plenty of android tablets at CES when there were rumors of the ipad coming out and Facebook Connect is the Macworld of VR where we’re seeing innovation every year and the excitement will continue to increase.