HTC Vive Joel Breton Disapproves Oculus’s Business Strategies
GDC 2017 was an event filled with surprises and big news, which has curved the telemetry of the VR industry. Oculus released some fantastic news with price cuts and VR game exclusives (Robo Recall) and HTC provided the industry with their own thoughts and bit of news.
In attendance at GDC was was Joel Breton, Vice President of Global VR Content. The good folks at Gamespot got a chance to sit down and talk with Breton on his thoughts on AAA games for the VR industry and it was quite striking. For starters, Breton formerly worked at famous game studios like Bethesda and 2K where he’s helped launch titles such as Payday 2, Brothers, Terraria, and The Elder Scrolls. Some of these games are large AAA game titles, which validates his knowledge in the space.
Breton believes that Google Earth is a “Killer app in VR,” while it’s not funded behind a AAA budget nor team. Google Earth in VR provides an incredible experience where you can virtually travel the world with a simple touch of the button. You can visit the city of Versailles on a whim and head over to Mount Everest the next minute. A lot of places in Google Earth is viewable in 3D with scale.
After talking about Google Earth, Breton explained the requirements in creating AAA games. “I’ve been working in games for 22 years, and what I understand is that, to get a 150-hour game experience, it usually takes about a 100 people or more working from three to four years, right?”
VR hardware was just introduced last year, which isn’t enough time to be expecting true AAA titles (just yet). According to Breton, teams will require years of development with large teams. “So what’s happening instead is that games are being made within about a year with team sizes around 10 and 20 people,” said Breton. “And then we’re already starting to see teams balloon up to like 40 and 50 people teams. That kind of the larger VR teams that I’ve seen.”
Breton also provided his two cents about Oculus and its business strategies. “Oculus, I think they’re doing good work for the overall ecosystem in some areas. I disagree with their strategy a lot.” What the Vice President of Global VR Content at HTC Vive is referring to here is Oculus’s exclusive content business strategy. “I just feel that they’re essentially hampering developers’ ability to create large communities by blocking them out from other platforms.”
Oculus believes that without their funding, some of these exclusive games would’ve never seen the light of day and never even exist in the first place. Breton finds this problematic for the “developer’s long-term success.” This is due to the fact studios are receiving large fundings for big exclusive games but when they try to develop a game of their own, they won’t be able to “develop at the size and scope that the market is at.” Breton believes this business strategy might be setting studios up for failure down the road.