Oculus to rally VR support with first developer conference

For its pioneering virtual-reality headset to take off, Oculus needs software makers to begin crafting compelling software that will attract consumers.

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CNET editor Eric Franklin rocking the Oculus Rift. CNET

Oculus VR has all the markings of a large company: It has an influential and well-respected staff of employees helping to produce a slickly marketed device that's making waves throughout associated industry.

Now the virtual reality headset maker says it's is going to hold a developer's conference to attract software makers to its platform ahead of an expected retail launch next year.

"In the last two years, we've seen more virtual reality content built than in the last two decades, and that's a direct result of incredible work by the community," the company said in a blog post announcing the event. The company said attendees will have an opportunity to "learn about upcoming Oculus technology."

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Oculus VR

The developer's conference will be held September 19 and 20 at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles.

For Oculus, the choice to begin a developer's conference strikes at the heart of its struggles heading to market. As a new device that has limited compatibility with older software, Oculus needs content developers to begin making compelling programs that attract consumers.

Oculus has said it expected to overcome that struggle with the help of Facebook, which agreed to pay $2 billion to acquire the company in March Even though the deal hasn't yet closed, Oculus has begun building research, development and software teams, an effort the company's CEO has said is essential to ensuring the long-term viability of the product.

So far, several influential video game developers have begun developing titles for the device, including CCP, makers of the spaceship battle game Eve. Oculus has also struck an exclusive agreement with Playful, which is making an action adventure game called Lucky's Tale, inspired by Nintendo's popular Super Mario Bros.

But Oculus needs more. The company has taken a cue from Sony, which is making its own virtual reality headset, called Project Morpheus to work with the PlayStation 4 video game console. Sony has shown off demonstration software built with the help of software development studios it owns.

Oculus has begun building its own software making group, including employees planned to manage publishing relationships.

The developer's conference will likely supply it with even more partners.

Separately, the company also said it has acquired RakNet, a set of software tools for making games. Oculus said it has been using the company's technology and plans to provide its source code to developers. The terms of the deal weren't made public.

About the author

Ian Sherr is a senior writer for CNET focused on social media and video game companies. He has previously written for The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the Agence France-Presse. He's a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, though he knows what real weather feels like too.

 

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