EPIC GAMES founder Tim Sweeney, a games industry veteran, claims that Facebook is being creamed by HTC in the market for virtual reality headsets.
The reason, adds Sweeney, is because HTC Vive is based on an open-source platform.
"When you install the Oculus drivers, by default you can only use the Oculus store. You have to rummage through the menu and turn that off if you want to run Steam [the popular PC gaming app run by Valve Software]. Which everybody does. It's just alienating and sends the wrong message to developers.
"It's telling developers: ‘You're on notice here. We're going to dominate this thing. And your freedom is going to expire at some point.' It's a terrible precedent to set. I argued passionately against it," said Sweeney.
As a result, HTC is outselling Oculus by around two-to-one, according to the industry insider, with games like Serious Sam VR and Doom 3 running on the HTC Vive, sold on Steam, pulling in the punters.
Sweeney was talking to fringe gaming magazine Glixel, a spin-off from the arguably better-known US publication Rolling Stone.
Open platforms will ultimately win, Sweeney believes: "They're going to have a much better selection of software. HTC Vive is a completely open platform. And other headsets are coming that will be completely open. HTC Vive is outselling Oculus 2-to-1 worldwide. I think that trend will continue."
The HTC Vive has been pushed via the popular Steam gaming portal owned by Valve Software, which Sweeney also credits with helping to drastically reduce the impact of piracy in PC games.
The HTC Vive sold-out within hours of going on sale via Steam. According to Sweeney, just over half-a-million PC VR headsets have been sold globally, while Google et al have shifted a few million smartphone-based VR units.
However, in terms of actual software sales, all of the action is on the PC platform, claims Sweeney, and not on smartphone-based mobile VR.
Sweeney's comments come despite his company being funded by Oculus to make a closed-platform game, Robo Recall, purely for the Oculus platform.
Virtual reality evangelist Sweeney has long had an interest in VR, playing around with headsets that could render low-resolution (by the standards of today) video back in the early 1990s - video akin to Doom or Duke Nukem.
Epic Games is the company behind the Unreal Engine widely used in games development, as well as the popular Gears of War.
Sweeney foresees a time when pre-rendering media such as cartoons simply won't be necessary - PCs will be able to do that on-the-fly.
As a result, "once it's running in real time in a computer, you can strap on a VR headset and actually be immersed in it. You move your head around and see the actual 3D objects from different points of view," he said.
He added: "Maybe you add bits of interactivity to it. I think it's going to create this entirely new type of medium that is somewhere in between a video game and a movie. It's much more scripted and planned out than a game is now, but it's also more interactive than a movie."
But for the next three years or so, believes Sweeney, VR will barely make a dent in the broader world of gaming.
However, sometime over the next decade or so, Sweeney believes that VR will go mainstream - and the transition will be sudden, much like the shift from feature phones to smartphones following the release of the Apple iPhone.
"Over the next 12 years we're going to see VR scale down from a huge helmet to something the size of your glasses, which has a display for each eye that's higher quality than any display you can buy now, and cheaper, because it uses very little material. And that's going to revolutionise all forms of entertainment.
"Instead of having televisions and monitors and smartphone screens, you're going to have this VR device to project imagery wherever you want. It's going to occupy 140 degrees of your field of view - far, far higher quality and more immersive than the best PC entertainment experience you can get today," he said. µ
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