What is your first thought of the word “platform”? Train platform? Or Operation system like computer window? In IT industry the word ‘platform’ is used as the meaning of ‘An environment for multiple users to participate to exchange specific value.’(Credit: Chosun biz) Recently, Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft are the successful companies by its platform strategy. These companies that have their own platform are very competitive these days. There are also many tries in VR market. Let’s dive in to this VR platform war!
Hardware platform: Oculus Rift / Samsung Gear VR / HTC Vive
Many VR HMDs from mobile HMD to PC HMD are coming out recently. Each of these devices has its own platform. They are using a strategy of monopolizing attractive contents so that users can buy its hardware. Therefore users are buying hardware not only because of hardware itself but to play a game through the hardware.
Oculus Rift and Gear VR’s Oculus Home
There is a device that many developers are waiting for, Oculus Rift. Oculus has two type of HMD. One is Oculus Rift that can be used with High-end Computer and the other is Gear VR for Samsung’s smartphone made with Samsung electronics. These two hardware platform is relatively closed because it can be used only in its device and in case of Gear VR, it is only compatible with Samsung Galaxy smartphone.
Also, Oculus tried to secure VR games which are only available for Oculus by investing to various game developers. Some of the users said about this that ‘Oculus is too relying on ‘Console Strategy’.
<Oculus Home/ Credit: Oculus>
Oculus Rift received attention for games but it also provides various media experience more than game such as VR cinema, community through Oculus home. Oculus home, an exclusive platform for Oculus, was opened on June 2015 and it starts automatically when you put Oculus Rift. You can buy more contents through the store.
Samsung Gear VR
Samsung Gear VR is a mobile HMD made by Samsung and Oculus. You can use this HMD by fixing your smartphone to the device. Gear VR also use Oculus home as its platform. However, it only supports Samsung’s smartphone so users who don’t use Galaxy can’t use Gear VR.
<Credit: Samsung electronics>
Steam VR of HTC Vive
<Credit: Google Image>
HTC Vive is a high-end PC HMD made by a Taiwan company HTC and Valve. According to Gamsutra, 49% of the developers who answered to the VR/AR innovation report survey which was first opened in VR developer’s conference (VRDC) preferred HTC Vive most. You can enjoy about 310 contents in HTC Vive through Valve’s “Steam VR”. Steam VR works best in HTC Vive and Oculus Rift but it is also compatible with other devices.
Steam is already famous as game platform so it is a huge advantage for HTC Vive to use Steam VR as a platform. However, Many of Steam VR’s game is simple which will provide a nice experience for your friend who never experienced VR before. ‘The Lab’ which provides bunch of mini VR games in a bundle responds well to the users.
The platform of each device is all about contents rather than platform itself. They will try to make users to buy their devices by attractive contents. Oculus and HTC Vive are taking a different way. Oculus seems to be more closed than HTC Vive. Recently, however, there was an article titled ‘Oculus surrendered’.
A program named ‘Revive’ appeared which make users available to play game which Oculus monopolized by paying amount of money in HTC Vive. The problem occurred when Oculus developed a new DRM patch to prevent the Revive program. However, as public opinion says that Oculus has lot their first intention, they announced that they will not check DRM and will open the ‘monopolized game’.
The most representative example of opposition between closed and opened can be iOS and Android. We can’t judge whether which one is better because they are in a tight race. iOS has advantage of being high quality as it is closed and the advantage of Android can be Variety.
It seems quite natural for companies to monopolize games to sell more of its hardware. So maybe it is not a matter of being closed or opened. The reason of many users’ opposition was probably because somebody took a different action after saying “VR market is more important than profit”. Let’s wait and watch how this market will move.
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