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"Youu've just shot yourself in the foot by abandoning OS X, I've decided to abandon Rift." --Taylor Marks, game dev.

In its recent publication of the "recommended requirements" Facebook Inc.'s (FB) head mounted display (HMD) subsidiary Oculus VR raised a couple eyebrows in putting a requirement pertaining to Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) "Windows 7 SP1 or newer" -- and then making no mention of Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) OS X or popular (sort of an oxymoron, granted) PC Linux distributions.  Early on Oculus VR had promised cross platform support for Windows -- but also OS X and Linux.  Had something changed?

Indeed it had.

In a followup blog by Oculus VR manager Atman Binstock, that bullet point is elaborated upon.  Binstock writes:

Our development for OS X and Linux has been paused in order to focus on delivering a high quality consumer-level VR experience at launch across hardware, software, and content on Windows. We want to get back to development for OS X and Linux but we don’t have a timeline.

Oculus Rift finished

The comment was met with outrage by many commenters, mostly irate OS X fans.  James Ison rages:

As an apple user I can't say I am pleased. It just means that some other VR company will get my money.

Taylor Marks, an indie game developer, delivers another pointed barb:

As a game developer who thinks you've just shot yourself in the foot by abandoning OS X, I've decided to abandon Rift. My games will still be available for Windows and OS X (and Linux), I just won't support Rift.

Others were more reserved but still pretty upset at the news.  Wyz Berrero comments:

Very sad news for our company, we are still very small, most of design and art direction is done on macs. Now we have to rethink and change ($$$) our whole workflow or just move to another platform. You guys are alienating a perhaps small but significant base of developers.

The Linux contingent were a little less numerous and vocal, but those that did chime in seemed to take a more pragmatic view.  Justin Brown boldly proclaims:

They can pause Linux development all they want. We of the open source community will get it working all by ourselves.

Other users defended Oculus's decision to focus on Windows development.  As they point out the potential Linux user base was extremely small.  And users point out that the number of Macs with a GTX 970 or equivalent are an infetismal portion of the overall OS X userbase -- basic the small volume of maxed out Mac Pros in the wild.  And as commenter Sean Harlow notes, supporting Apple is problematic in the first place due to its outdated version of OpenGL. (OS X currently supports OpenGL 4.1 which released in 2010 -- there's been four releases since then, with the latest being last year's OpenGL 4.5.)

Ultimately given the requirements on the hardware spec and driver front it may have been a pragmatic decision to focus on Windows, particularly given Oculus's rather ambitious planned performace for the Q1 2016 shipping Rift and the low price it's targeting.  As many point out Oculus VR/Facebook's minimum hardware spec -- OS aside -- may seem overly demanding, but in reality is pretty impressive given the planned resolution and framerates.

And clearly there may be OpenGL-based implementations for "hackintosh" and Linux devs to port, as Oculus is codeveloping Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KRX:005930) (KRX:005935) an Android Linux-targeted mobile device version of Rift.

Pragmatism and open source opportunities aside, the decision to initially focus on Windows may be music to the ears of Valve who has an upcoming VR project with HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) dubbed "HTC Vive VR".  (A pertinent side note -- the author of the post, Atman was actually snagged from the Valve VR project.)

Valve is referring to Vive VR and other third party designs as "SteamVR" headsets.  Oculus has a pretty sizeable head start on Valve.  Oculus released its first developer SDK in Mar. 2013 simultaneous to its shipments of the first generation prototype "DevKit" hardware [source].  Valve, by contrast, only released its SDK -- SteamVR SDK -- this April, roughly two years later.

Valve OS X teaser
Valve has a history of supporting OS X when others don't.  Given Oculus VR's OS X snub (or punt) will SteamVR continue this tradition?

As a final side note, perhaps OS X and Linux developers should have expected something like this.  After all, Oculus VR's SDK was Windows only until the March 2014 version 0.3.2 release of the SDK, which kickstarted (no pun intended) Oculus VR's fleeting flirtation with these less used operating systems [source].

That said, Valve already has Epic Games onboard and has support for Epic's Unreal Engine 4 nearly finished.  Add in that Valve has been a key proponent of Linux and OS X OpenGL gaming in recent years, and we may yet see Valve making hay while the sun shines on (or while Oculus Rift chooses to avoid) the OS X and Linux niche markets.

Source: Oculus VR [official blog]





"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home







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