Why GDC 2019 Could Be VR’s Most Important In Three Years

Why GDC 2019 Could Be VR’s Most Important In Three Years

February was slow, wasn’t it? For such a short month it sure does drag on. But it’s only lasted so long because we’ve been really, really looking forward to March. Or, more specifically, we’ve been looking forward to the 2019 Game Developers Conference.

That’s for a lot of reasons.

This GDC could well be VR’s most significant, at least since 2016. That year Oculus, Valve, Sony and HTC put the finishing touches on their launch campaigns. VR was on the cusp of going consumer and everyone was excited. The 2017 and 2018 iterations, while eventful, didn’t hold such importance.

But now in 2019 VR feels like it’s yet again on the cusp of something new. Perhaps not a second generation, but an intriguing mid-way point that will see the same suspects head off on exciting new tangents.

Oculus Quest and Rift S

Last year Oculus used GDC to lift the curtain on the Go headset. We got an in-depth hands-on and a first glimpse at games ahead of launch at F8 the following May.

We’re expecting a similar sort of roll out for the highly anticipated Oculus Quest. We already know we’ll see new demos for the six degrees of freedom (6DOF) standalone headset at the show. This could be Quest’s big coming out party, a chance to show everyone what this device is really capable of.

But Quest isn’t all we might see from Oculus at GDC. This month we found code that seemed to corroborate the existence of Oculus Rift S. Rift S is rumored to be a refreshed take on the Rift with inside-out tracking and an updated display. It could even be out this year. We’ve got our fingers crossed that Oculus has more news in store for us at GDC, even with Quest on the way.

HTC Vive Cosmos

HTC also has something in the works on the consumer VR side. At CES 2019, the company announced Vive Cosmos. It’s a PC VR headset with inside-out tracking. That’s about all the company will confirm on-record.

But not-so-sly hints and teases promise much more than that. HTC suggested Cosmos can also be powered by phones for portability. Not only that but the device will be modular, likely allowing users to swap out components for a VR experience that best suits them.

Cosmos is due to release later this year and GDC marks the perfect time to tell us more. This week, Vive announced a Developer Day for the first day of the show. There it will lay out its road map for 2019. Expect Cosmos to play a big part in that.

Valve’s Own SteamVR Headset

Oculus and HTC might not be great at keeping secrets, but no one plays its cards closer to its chest than Valve. After launching the Vive with HTC in 2016, we’ve heard that the SteamVR creator could be branching out with its very own headset. Supposed pictures of the device circulated the internet last year. GDC could be the time to reveal all.

Sources tell us the headset would feature a 135 degree field of view. It could come bundled with the company’s long-anticipated Knuckles controllers and, whisper it, a Half Life-based VR game.

At this point we’ve learned never to ‘expect’ something from Valve. If GDC were the coming out party for this headset it could easily be the biggest story of the show.

Exciting times ahead, then. We will be at GDC in full force and we will have all the latest from the show.

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