No Oculus Studios Projects At E3, Facebook Confirms

Facebook will not be showing any new Oculus Studios projects during next week’s E3 streams.

Studios Executive Producer Mike Doran confirmed as much in a recent post on Reddit. “The Oculus Studios team will not be showing anything at E3,” Doran said, “but stay tuned!”

To be clear, Doran is only speaking on behalf of Oculus Studios – it’s possible that Facebook’s VR efforts still pop up during E3 in some way.

Facebook hasn’t announced another VR Gaming Showcase for the big event – it held its first one in April. There are several Studios projects we know about on the horizon right now – Rift exclusive Lone Echo 2 is finally coming this summer and Facebook is partnering with Capcom to bring Resident Evil 4 to the Quest 2 as the platform’s first full exclusive. A similar partnership with Ubisoft will bring Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell to VR, too.

Last month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg also seemed to accidentally confirm that Facebook-owned Downpour Interactive is making Onward 2.

It’s not too surprising that Oculus Studios is skipping E3, however. We’re now likely just a few months away from Facebook’s annual VR event, Facebook Connect, which is where the company often puts a big spotlight on news games. We might well see another Gaming Showcase before or around that time, too.

Of course, E3 won’t be without VR news. On Friday we confirmed that we’ll be bringing back the Upload VR Showcase over the course of the show. You can tune in on June 12th at 3pm PT for new game trailers and reveals not just for Quest titles but PSVR and PC VR too. You won’t want to miss it!


Facebook: ‘Long Term’ Oculus Studios Titles Targeting Quest 2

Oculus Studios titles releasing in the “long term” are targeting the Oculus Quest 2, according to Executive Producer Mike Doran.

The comment was made in a fairly obscure post on Reddit asking whether any big studio titles were coming to Quest. One user commented that games such as After the Fall and Resident Evil 4 are on the way, then tagged Oculus Studios Executive Producer Mike Doran and mentioned he had previously said that there were some long-term projects in the works.

Doran then chimed in to reveal a bit more. “I can’t say for sure when announcements will happen but there are several long term projects being produced by the Studios team that have yet to be revealed,” he wrote. He then also responded to a follow-up comment and said that “the long term Studios projects [he] referred to are all targeting Quest 2.”

In some respects this isn’t a huge surprise — towards the end of last year, Facebook confirmed that its PC VR headset the Rift S would be retired and that it wouldn’t be releasing any new PC VR-only headsets. The focus is now squarely on standalone VR, with the goal of making the Quest 2 the main and “best” PC VR experience on offer.

With Facebook’s line of dedicated PC VR headsets gone, it’s not shocking that all of Oculus Studios’ unannounced projects are targeting Quest 2. Facebook have also previously indicated that its intention is for Quest 2 to be in the market “for a long while”, despite also confirming work on an unannounced Quest Pro headset. Still, news that projects that are further out will still be targeting Quest 2 should relieve some concerns from owners worried Facebook might be making Quest Pro or perhaps even Quest 3 exclusive software in the immediate future.

It’s not quite the same story for Quest 1 – this year’s release of Resident Evil 4 will be exclusive to Quest 2.

In a separate Reddit post, Doran also confirmed that the “Oculus Studios team will not be showing anything at E3” this year, so don’t expect any of those projects to be revealed over the next few weeks.

That being said, his comment leaves the door open for other companies to reveal VR content at E3 later this year… We might have something to say about that very soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

Oculus Gaming Showcase Drops New Resident Evil 4 Footage

Resident Evil 4

It was only a week ago that Capcom officially announced that Resident Evil 4 would be coming to Oculus Quest 2 in 2021. With the Oculus Gaming Showcase today, Facebook has released further details regarding how Armature Studio and Oculus Studios are bringing this 16-year old videogame to life in virtual reality (VR).

Resident Evil 4 Oculus Quest 2

The first Oculus Quest 2 exclusive videogame – sorry original Quest owners – Resident Evil 4 will have completely remastered art with Armature Studio either repainting or increasing the resolution on over 4,500 textures. Fans of the fourth instalment will also notice the character animations remain untouched, staying true to the Capcom original. Plus all the cutscenes maintain the same format.

As for the gameplay, it’s now first-person, playing through Leon’s eyes. As VR players have become accustomed to interacting with virtual worlds Resident Evil 4 ensures that’s still the case, with weapons and other items rebuilt so you can pick them up. The world of Resident Evil is known for its inventory systems but in VR your weapons won’t be hidden away, they’ll be on your person ready to quickly grab. You can even dual wield if you want to.

When it comes to the important mechanic of movement the teams aim to ensure Resident Evil 4 is going to be as comfortable as possible for all players. There will be normal continuous locomotion for the most immersive experience, alongside teleportation and room-scale movement for maximum flexibility. “With plenty of comfort options at your disposal, you can also play through the game comfortably while seated,” notes the Oculus Blog.

Resident Evil 4 Oculus Quest 2

You’ll be able to see in the video that information like health and ammo is displayed on a wristwatch so there’s no HUD to spoil the view, and the guns manually reload, so you can pump shotgun shells into those raging enemies. What’s not been shown are the QTE’s (quick-time events) and how they been handled – or possibly removed completely?

From the details shared so far, Resident Evil 4 for Oculus Quest 2 seems to be shaping up nicely, and could very well help to shift a few headsets when it launches. Still no date at the moment, just later this year. For continued updates on the project, keep reading VRFocus.

Have Facebook’s Big Bets on Oculus Exclusive Games Been Successful? A Data-driven Look

Facebook has purportedly spent at least $500 million to bring a wide range of content to its VR headsets. A portion of that investment was bet on big budget exclusive games, like Asgard’s Wrath and Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, which aimed to satisfy a craving for AA and AAA VR content among gamers. But how much impact did it have?

While Facebook has funded a wide range of VR content, from 360 videos to non-exclusive indie VR games, the company has stated that a portion of the money it has spent on VR content was with the explicit goal of delivering larger AA and AAA titles to its platform that would attract gamers accustomed to seeing large scope, high production value content in the non-VR gaming world. These large titles represented many of the largest single bets the company placed on VR content, and indeed, many of the best-funded projects in all of VR, with some titles believed to have budgets in the tens of millions of dollars.

Defining Scope

Right up front it should be said that there’s a number of different ways one could consider Facebook’s Oculus exclusive content ‘successful’ or not. And, since we don’t know the budgets of each game, there’s not a clear definition for what even counts as the ‘big bets’ the company has made on content.

I’ll be clearly defining the assumptions made in order to answer these questions, starting with which games we’ll focus on.

First, we’re going to be looking specifically at the Oculus PC store since the bulk of Oculus exclusive content was made for that marketplace, giving us more data to analyze.

To look at the ‘big bets’, let’s start by listing all of the games the ‘Oculus Originals‘ section (and pulling in known ‘Oculus Studios’ titles that are oddly omitted). From there let’s only look at titles with a launch price higher than $30, as we can use the launch price as a proxy for how much value the project was expected to be worth (and therefore a coarse indication of the budget). There’s one exception to this rule which is the Vader Immortal games. I chose to keep all three in the list because they were released rapidly (all in the same year) and were effectively meant to form one complete $30 experience (in fact, on PSVR they are all sold as a single game with a $30 price tag).

This leaves us with the following list of 25 ‘big bets’ Facebook placed on VR games.

Game Release Developer
Chronos 2016 Gunfire
Feral Rites 2016 Insomniac
Edge of Nowhere 2016 Insomniac
Eve Valkyrie 2016 CCP
The Climb 2016 Crytek
Robo Recall 2017 Epic
Rock Band VR 2017 Harmonix
Wilson’s Heart 2017 Twisted Pixel
The Mage’s Tale 2017 inXile
Lone Echo 2017 Ready at Dawn
Arktika.1 2017 4A Games
From Other Suns 2017 Gunfire
Brass Tactics 2018 Hidden Path
Marvel Powers United VR 2018 Sanzaru
Dance Central 2019 Harmonix
Journey of the Gods 2019 Turtle Rock
Vader Immortal I 2019 ILMxLAB
Vader Immortal II 2019 ILMxLAB
Vader Immortal III 2019 ILMxLAB
Stormland 2019 Insomniac
Asgard’s Wrath 2019 Sanzaru
Sports Scramble 2019 Armature
Lies Beneath 2020 Drifter
Phantom: Covert Ops 2020 nDreams
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond 2020 Respawn

Defining Value

Now the question is, ‘how do we determine if the bets Facebook placed on these games were successful’?

From Facebook’s standpoint, these large exclusive content investments were made to jumpstart its VR content library, and to show gamers that polished, large scope VR games were available and ready to be played.

Thus, looking at ‘value provided to customers’ seems like a good approach to consider the ‘success’ of that proposition. Luckily, each customer has the opportunity to voice their opinion of a game’s value by giving the game a rating based on their experience with it compared to what they paid. Here’s how these 25 games stack up by user ratings:

Game Release Developer User Reviews
Lone Echo 2017 Ready at Dawn 4.70
Brass Tactics 2018 Hidden Path 4.69
Robo Recall 2017 Epic 4.68
Dance Central 2019 Harmonix 4.64
Vader Immortal I 2019 ILMxLAB 4.55
Asgard’s Wrath 2019 Sanzaru 4.49
Stormland 2019 Insomniac 4.48
Journey of the Gods 2019 Turtle Rock 4.47
Edge of Nowhere 2016 Insomniac 4.44
Vader Immortal III 2019 ILMxLAB 4.40
Chronos 2016 Gunfire 4.39
Lies Beneath 2020 Drifter 4.35
Phantom: Covert Ops 2020 nDreams 4.34
Wilson’s Heart 2017 Twisted Pixel 4.32
From Other Suns 2017 Gunfire 4.31
The Climb 2016 Crytek 4.27
Vader Immortal II 2019 ILMxLAB 4.26
Sports Scramble 2019 Armature 4.26
The Mage’s Tale 2017 inXile 4.21
Rock Band VR 2017 Harmonix 4.03
Arktika.1 2017 4A Games 4.01
Marvel Powers United VR 2018 Sanzaru 3.88
Feral Rites 2016 Insomniac 3.83
Eve Valkyrie 2016 CCP 3.82
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond 2020 Respawn 3.81

Comparing Value

So now we have a way to gauge how players valued these exclusive games. But how do we determine if it was ‘worth it’ for Facebook to have made these bets in the first place?

Clearly the goal of bringing these titles to market was to raise the value of the company’s VR content offering. By comparing the rating of each exclusive to the average rating of all games released that year* we can get an idea of ‘how much’ each game added to or detracted from that year’s baseline content quality.

Game Release Rating Rating vs. Release Year Average Rating
Edge of Nowhere 2016 4.44 +0.78
Chronos 2016 4.39 +0.73
The Climb 2016 4.27 +0.61
Feral Rites 2016 3.83 +0.17
Eve Valkyrie 2016 3.82 +0.16
Lone Echo 2017 4.70 +0.80
Robo Recall 2017 4.68 +0.78
Wilson’s Heart 2017 4.32 +0.42
From Other Suns 2017 4.31 +0.41
The Mage’s Tale 2017 4.21 +0.31
Rock Band VR 2017 4.03 +0.13
Arktika.1 2017 4.01 +0.11
Brass Tactics 2018 4.69 +0.62
Marvel Powers United VR 2018 3.88 −0.18
Dance Central 2019 4.64 +0.43
Vader Immortal I 2019 4.55 +0.34
Asgard’s Wrath 2019 4.49 +0.29
Stormland 2019 4.48 +0.27
Journey of the Gods 2019 4.47 +0.27
Vader Immortal III 2019 4.40 +0.20
Vader Immortal II 2019 4.26 +0.06
Sports Scramble 2019 4.26 +0.05
Lies Beneath 2020 4.35 +0.28
Phantom: Covert Ops 2020 4.34 +0.27
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond 2020 3.81 −0.26

* games with less than 100 reviews are excluded from the release year average to remove outliers

So we can see that Oculus exclusives have a good track record at least of exceeding the average game rating in their given release year.

Outliers: The low ratings of Marvel Powers United VR and Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, are particularly interesting. It’s easy to imagine that big budget games automatically get a boost to user ratings thanks to more resources for polish and presentation. But those two games are thought to be two of the three largest investments Facebook has made in Oculus exclusive content. What happened?

To an extent, this means most of the exclusive content investments the company made have positively benefited the overall position of the content library. But ‘how much’ matters here too; this is the year-by-year breakdown:

Average Rating Difference Among Oculus Exclusives
2016 +9.80%
2017 +8.44%
2018 +4.42%
2019 +4.78%
2020 +1.96%

It’s clear to see here that Facebook’s efforts never managed to produce content which exceeded the release year’s average by more than 10%, and the benefit of Oculus exclusives, against games released in the same year, dropped off steadily as time went on.

There’s two likely explanations for this. Either Facebook’s bets were getting worse over time, or non-exclusive content was getting better over time. While it could be a combination of the two, it appears that the latter is the most significant factor, which we can see when comparing the average rating of games in the library each year to the average rating of Oculus exclusive games in the same year.

Continue on Page 2: A Better Way? »

The post Have Facebook’s Big Bets on Oculus Exclusive Games Been Successful? A Data-driven Look appeared first on Road to VR.

Oculus Studios Games Will Be ‘Bigger, More Complex’ As Development Cycles Expand – Facebook

The development cycles of Facebook’s own VR content, published under the Oculus Studios banner, are getting longer, and the company says you’ll see “bigger, more complex” games as a result.

Mike Doran, Director of Production at Oculus Studios, said as much on Reddit this week. Following up on comments he recently made about Studios’ content pipeline in the next three to seven years, Doran clarified that development cycles for these periods are starting to become longer than they previously might have been.

“As far as content goes, we’re working on games now (and have been for a while) that are launching in several years,” Doran said. “The average development cycle for Oculus Studios VR titles is getting longer and you’ll start to see bigger, more complex games as a result.”

Doran also assured that new Studios content will be coming within the next two years, not just over the course of the next three to seven.

It’s true that some Studios projects have seen tight turnarounds in VR’s early days. In 2017, for example, Facebook aimed to release one new VR game a month and, when the Oculus Rift released in 2016 Marvel’s Spider-Man developer Insomniac Games released three titles over the course of its first year. But the company has also already published some of these bigger titles; Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond was first announced in 2017 and didn’t release until late 2020, whereas Ready at Dawn’s Lone Echo 2 has now been in the works for close to four years, having first been teased at Oculus Connect in 2017.

So expect to see perhaps fewer Studios releases as often as you used to but, hopefully these new titles will answer the call for deeper experiences that really capitalize on what’s possible with VR.

Asgard’s Wrath Was Originally A VR Tower Defense God-Game

Lots of behind-the-scenes tidbits and details were revealed today in a massive oral history report published by Facebook that chronicles the history of Oculus to celebrate the five-year anniversary of the original Rift launch. One of the most interesting details to me is the surprising shift in tone and genre that Asgard’s Wrath went through between its conception and its release.

Asgard’s Wrath

For those unaware, Asgard’s Wrath is a massive VR action-adventure RPG that’s exclusive to the Oculus Rift PC VR store developed by Sanzaru (now owned by Facebook) in which you take control of a Norse God that has the ability to possess mortals and control them directly. The game plays out similar to a Zelda or God of War game in which you explore various realms of Norse mythology, solve puzzles, and fight hundreds of monsters. You can also transform animals into humanoid familiars that fight with you and all have unique abilities to help you on your journey.

It’s a huge, sprawling game that captures the essence of a large-scale AAA quality RPG and puts it into VR with great results. It was the first 5/5 score we ever game here on UploadVR back in 2019 and it’s still my personal favorite VR game to date.

In the oral history report that published today, developers from Sanzaru and Oculus Studios discuss a surprising revelation: the game wasn’t even planned to be an action game at all originally. Not even close.

“Asgard’s Wrath actually started as a Touch-centric demo like VR Sports Challenge,” said Grace Morales Lingad, Creative Director at developer Sanzaru. “It was meant as a Toybox-like demo early on and grew from there… It was more focused on being the god and helping this puny mortal.”

Toybox was a multiplayer Oculus Touch tech demo in which you and another person would stand at a table and play with toys. The toys were intended to encourage interaction so there were building blocks, remote controlled airplanes, and more. That feeling of being a giant looking down at little toys on a table stuck with the developers.

Then along the way it became a tower defense game where you were picking up little
Toybox-size objects and putting them down as your defensive armaments,” said Mike Doran, Director of Production at Oculus Studios. “There’s a couple places where you still see the tower defense game, a couple of boss encounters where you’re firing these giant cannons down on massive armies in the distance. Also, not a lot of people realize that our entire inventory is a series of shelves with tiny little units or objects, and those shelves were originally the UI for selecting towers.”

Once the idea for flipping between God-mode and mortal-mode were introduced, it spiraled from there. They added more features and more concepts on top of everything else, letting you explore more of the world and take control of more types of mortals. Before long, it wasn’t a tower-defense game at all.

“With Asgard’s Wrath, we wanted to make a real-deal, big game,” said Mat Kraemer, Head of Design at Sanzaru. “I’m tired of playing the ten-minute demos and I’m tired of limited movement. I wanted to play a God of War style game. I wanted to play a Zelda style game in VR. I want to make the game that makes you buy an Oculus headset, so when people look at Oculus hardware, they say, ‘I want to play Sanzaru’s next big thing.’ That is what I want to make, and I think as a developer being given the opportunity to do that has been awesome.”

For games similar to what Sanzaru originally envisioned, check out Defense Grid 2 and Brass Tactics. And for more on Asgard’s Wrath, you can read or watch my full Asgard’s Wrath review, beginner tips, and my one-year retrospective from last October that looked back at why the game remains so great for me.

Let us know what you think down in the comments below!

Respawn Is ‘Going To Try’ To Bring Medal Of Honor VR To Quest 2 After PC

It looks like the Oculus Studios-funded Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond from Respawn Entertainment and EA has a chance of getting an Oculus Quest port after all — although it might only be for Quest 2.

On Reddit today, Oculus Studios producer Mike Doran replied to a comment asking about whether or not the PC VR-exclusive first-person shooter, Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, ever had a chance of coming to “Quest 2 natively.” Doran said that they are “going to try, once the PC SKU is finished,” and that Respawn/EA are “fully involved and onboard with this ambition.” He then added they “don’t know yet” how long that would possibly take.

This is pretty big news. Every bit of information we’ve heard about Medal of Honor seemed to indicate that it would remain a PC VR exclusive game given the scope of the project. I got a chance to go hands-on with it briefly over a year ago on Oculus Rift S and came away impressed with the direction the campaign is taking and am eager to see how multiplayer shapes up.

As exciting as this news is, it isn’t entirely surprising. Back when Medal of Honor VR was first revealed I asked Game Director Peter Hirschmann from Respawn about a Quest version and he didn’t deny it. Instead, he told me the company was “focusing on Rift” but then added that they “love the Quest” as well.

We’ve reached out to Facebook for further comment and will update this story if we hear back.

Stay tuned at UploadVR for lots more Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond coverage as we lead up to its launch next month.

Star Wars: Tales From The Galaxy’s Edge To Feature At Facebook Connect

ILMxLAB confirmed that its upcoming Star Wars VR game will be featured at Facebook Connect later this week.

The game, officially titled Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge, was announced back in May and is being produced in collaboration with Facebook’s VR publishing label, Oculus Studios. The game is set between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker on the planet Batuu, which is the same planet featured at the Star Wars areas of Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

A new tweet from ILMxLAB confirmed that a ‘glimpse’ of Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge will be shown on Wednesday at Facebook Connect.

As you can see, the tweet also featured some concept art from the game. Based the droid parts being stored in the back right, it looks like this could be some kind of workshop or droid production facility. Galaxy’s Edge at Disney theme parks does feature the ‘Droid Depot‘ workshop, where visitors can make their own custom remote-control droid.

That being said, we do know that the game isn’t just a virtual replica of the Batuu area at Disneyland and Disney World. We also know that the game is definitely coming to Oculus Quest, but no other platforms have been confirmed yet. ILMxLAB’s last Star Wars title, Vader Immortal, released on Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest and (more recently) PSVR. Could Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge be a Quest-exclusive title?

It seems likely that a trailer might debut at Facebook Connect later this week, given we’ve yet to see any gameplay footage at all. The game is still slated for 2020, so a release date announcement (or even a surprise drop?) could be on the cards as well, unless a delay is imminent.

Tune in to Facebook Connect from 10am Pacific this Wednesday.

Lone Echo Developer Ready At Dawn Acquired by Facebook

Lone Echo 2

Facebook continually buys smaller companies it sees are worth bringing under its banner, with the latest being virtual reality (VR) studio Ready At Dawn; the team behind the Lone Echo franchise among others.

Echo VR

Ready At Dawn has a long history in videogames, creating titles like Daxter and The Order: 1886 before moving into VR development. The studio’s first was the epic sci-fi adventure Lone Echo which was well received by gamers and critics alike. This was then followed by multiplayer videogames Echo Arena and Echo Combat, pitting players against one another in zero-g environments.

Currently in development is Lone Echo II which was originally slated for a 2019 launch, before being pushed into 2020. Recently the team said that even with the coronavirus pandemic and remote working, Lone Echo II should be arriving later this year.

All of Ready At Dawn’s VR titles have been for Oculus headsets so Facebook has now secured that knowledge and expertise going into the future. Ready At Dawn will now be part of the Oculus Studios team although it’ll remain as an independent studio working from its current offices in Irvine and Portland. And all jobs will be secure with the entire team transfering over.

Lone Echo 2

As for further details on Lone Echo II the studio had none to share at this time. An Oculus blog post did have this to say: “Ready At Dawn has exciting plans for future games, and we hope to bring those experiences to as many people as possible, but we’re not ready to share details at this time.”

Ready At Dawn joins Sanzaru Games which Facebook purchased earlier this year. Sanzaru Games is the studio behind VR Sports ChallengeMARVEL Powers United VR and Asgard’s Wrath. The acquisitions help Facebook solidify exclusive content for its VR headsets from teams now well versed in immersive content development. As and when further studio purchases are made, VRFocus will let you know.

Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge is the Latest VR Experience from ILMxLAB & Oculus Studios

Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy's Edge

ILMxLAB has had plenty of success bringing Star Wars into virtual reality (VR), whether that’s at home with Vader Immortal or on location with Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire. Today, the studio has announced its latest collaboration with Oculus Studios, Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge.

Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy's Edge

The upcoming VR experience will be an extension for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge the new area at Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. If you’ve really wanted to go – but at the moment can’t for obvious reasons – then Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge could help fill the void.

Featuring an original story set between Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the title is slated to include both new and iconic characters from the sci-fi universe. Set on the planet of Batuu on the outskirts of the Black Spire Outpost, the videogame is said to contain: “multiple styles of gameplay and difficulty settings to accommodate a wide variety of players.” Whether this will be similar to Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series interactive film style remains to be seen.

“We are so excited for fans to step into Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge later this year,” said Vicki Dobbs Beck, ILMxLAB Executive-in-Charge in a statement. “This action-packed adventure not only speaks to the promise of connected and complementary experiences by extending the lore around Black Spire Outpost, it represents another meaningful step in ILMxLAB’s quest to transition  from storytelling – one-way communication – to storyLIVING, where you’re inside a world making consequential choices that drive your experience forward.”

Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy's Edge

“We’re very happy to collaborate with ILMxLAB again on Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge. VR is an incredibly powerful storytelling medium; this experience will immerse fans in a deep and thrilling adventure within the Star Wars galaxy, as they are transported to impossible places through the power of virtual reality,” adds Mike Verdu, VP of Content, AR/VR at Facebook.

As Oculus Studios is involved expect Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge to be exclusive to its platform, with Oculus Quest support almost a given. Currently, the VR experience is expected to be released later this year. As further details are released, VRFocus will let you know.