As expected, the Vision Summit’s keynote session was full of surprise announcements. Google, Valve/HTC, Sony and Oculus were all present, and each company provided updates to the VR community on its progress in the new medium.
Unity Support For Cardboard
Even though Google made its Cardboard Design Lab open source as a way of attracting more amateurs to VR development, the company wanted to give professional developers their own set of tools. As Unity is already a popular tool for creation, Google added native support for Cardboard on the game engine.
For Unity, another supported VR platform further expands its reputation as a crucial player in VR development. For Google, the new partnership was created in the hope that more developers create content for Cardboard. Google Cardboard is one of the cheapest ways to explore VR, and more content means that people will continue to be interested in virtual reality.
A Message From Gabe Newell
Unfortunately, Valve’s Gabe Newell couldn’t attend in person, but he left a video message for attendees. Just like Google, SteamVR officially joined the list of supported platforms on Unity. Valve's and Google's partnership increases the list of Unity-supported devices, which include the Oculus Rift, Microsoft Hololens, Samsung Gear VR and PlayStation VR.
In a surprise turn of events, Newell also had his own “Oprah moment” when he told the crowd that everyone in attendance would receive their own Vive HMD. However, the devices wouldn’t be available to grab at the conference. Attendees would get an email after the event on how to redeem their free VR device.
Some users might need to upgrade a few PC components if they want to play with VR at home, and there are others that need a full upgrade to join to the movement. But in Sony's case, anyone with a PlayStation 4 is ready for PlayStation VR.
Sony’s Dr. Richard Marks said that there are 36 million PlayStation 4 units owned by fans around the world. When PlayStation VR comes out, these players just need to buy the HMD and plug it into the PS4 to start their VR experience. Obviously, the components of the PS4 might not be as strong as high-end gaming PCs, but Sony believes it can deliver a unique and social VR experience to the PlayStation faithful.
Oculus And Unity
Oculus’ Palmer Luckey was the final keynote speaker. We already know that the pre-orders for the Oculus Rift include Lucky’s Tale and EVE: Valkyrie, but the partnership between the two companies yielded another incentive to pre-order the HMD: a four-month trial of Unity Pro.
The subscription would normally cost you $75 per month, but Oculus will allow users to try it for a limited time. Just like Google’s open-source approach with its Cardboard Design Lab, Oculus seems to encourage more people to try out VR development in order to create new content. For Unity, the trial could persuade users to choose Unity as their main tool to create new VR content.
At this point, each company now has Unity in its arsenal as a way of attracting more developers to a specific HMD. In addition, companies like Oculus and Google are also encouraging amateurs to develop in VR.
Now, it’s all about the hype. Each company is close to completing its own VR device, and it’s time to get customers excited about the new experiences in virtual reality before the HMDs arrive on store shelves.