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Mobile VR is 'coasting on novelty,' says John Carmack

Carmack tells developers to be harder on themselves.

John Carmack, chief technology officer at Oculus, has said mobile VR is currently "coasting on novelty." Speaking during the Oculus Connect event, Carmack urged developers to "be harder" on themselves and create experiences on par with non-VR applications and games.

"We are coasting on novelty, and the initial wonder of being something people have never seen before," he said, as reported by "But we need to start judging ourselves. Not on a curve, but in an absolute sense. Can you do something in VR that has the same value, or more value, than what these other [non-VR] things have done?"

During his speech, Carmack highlighted loading times in mobile VR games as a key area in need of improvement, saying that making users sit through 30-seconds of loading is too long, given the brevity of most currently available VR experiences.


John Carmack

"That's acceptable if you're going to sit down and play for an hour...but [in VR] initial startup time really is poisonous. An analogy I like to say is, imagine if your phone took 30 seconds to unlock every time you wanted to use it. You'd use it a lot less."

He continued: "There are apps that I wanted to play, that I thought looked great, that I stopped playing because they had too long of a load time. I would say 20 seconds should be an absolute limit on load times, and even then I'm pushing people to get it much, much lower."

Oculus is set to launch its Touch controller on December 6. Each of the two controllers has a traditional analog stick, two buttons and an analog trigger, as well as haptic feedback and what Oculus calls the "hand trigger." Touch is also capable of tracking "a set of finger poses" that work to "recognize natural hand poses like pointing, waving, or giving a thumbs-up."

Preorders for the Touch opened on October 10 at 12 PM PT. Those interested have to purchase one before the end of October 27 to keep priority status. People who preorder get two free games: VR Sports Challenge and The Unspoken.

During Oculus Connect, GameSpot spoke to Oculus' head of content Jason Rubin about Touch pricing concerns, potential controller fragmentation issues and PlayStation VR. He also defended game exclusives and explained how they'll push the VR industry forward.

Carmack, meanwhile, is one of the people named in Fallout publisher ZeniMax's lawsuit against Oculus VR. ZeniMax is alleging that Oculus founder Palmer Luckey used stolen virtual reality technology to create the Rift VR headset. It also alleges that Carmack, who used to work for id Software, a ZeniMax-owned studio, knowingly took VR technology and information from it before he left for Oculus.

An Oculus spokesperson told GameSpot that ZeniMax's complaint "is one-sided and conveys only ZeniMax's interpretation of the story."

It added: "We continue to believe this case has no merit, and we will address all of ZeniMax's allegations in court."