Monday March 27, 2017

HTC Enters into Contract to Exclusively Provide VR for "Ready Player One"

No matter how often we the consumer tell them we hate it, hardware vendors and content providers just can't seem to resist the temptation to enter into exclusivity deals locking out customers who just don't happen to have the right combination of hardware. It's as if they've forgotten that the very thing that made the PC a success in the marketplace to begin with was that IBM created an open standard that could be used by all.

The news today is that Steven Spielberg's upcoming Ready Player One sci-fi film, based on the novel by Ernest Cline we reported on back in 2015 will have a VR experience associated with it, or maybe even a special VR version of the film. The details are unclear at this point. What is clear is that in an exclusive deal with HTC, their hardware will be the only hardware to support this VR experience.

By all accounts VR in Resident Evil 7 was a success, with a surprisingly large proportion of players using VR, yet it was still held back by its artificial restriction to only work on the PSVR system, despite VR on the PC being vastly superior. The HTC deal above is being sold as HTC's plan to bring VR to the masses, but it seems pretty clear that the opposite is true. Petty infighting and exclusivity deals like this rather than embracing open industry standards, and universal compatibility, will reduce the public's exposure to new technologies, and limit the numbers who embrace it.

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He also said that HTC is looking to make "Ready Player One" content available to mobile headsets in the U.S., hinting at bigger plans for mobile virtual reality. Currently, HTC is operating a mobile version of its Viveport store within China, but Steiber said that it aims to be "device-agnostic" and target mobile VR platforms elsewhere as well. "We are looking to bring mobile experiences around the world."