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Facebook thinks the future of Oculus is top-end games

"Games came first, they are well-established and will be a huge business for a really long time," says Facebook Reality Labs VP Mike Verdu.

Facebook thinks the future of Oculus is top-end games

Jurassic World Aftermath is among the new titles announced Wednesday for Oculus.

Image: Universal Games and Digital Platforms

For six years, Facebook's Oculus division has been trying to turn virtual reality from an esoteric hobby for tech nerds into an accessible new form of mass entertainment. After trying different strategies, Facebook now appears to believe that the best way to accomplish that is to provide a serious menu of top-end VR video games.

Even as Facebook revealed a new wireless VR headset, the Quest 2, the company also announced deals Wednesday to bring some of the world's most popular game franchises to the platform, led by Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed and Splinter Cell, Universal's Jurassic World Aftermath, the foundational independent game Myst and Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000.

Wednesday's broad slate of gaming announcements appeared to solidify the company's commitment to supporting so-called AAA games in VR. While other types of content like virtual tourism, fitness and work collaboration may prove important, gaming has emerged as the key driver for consumer VR.

"Games came first, they are well-established and will be a huge business for a really long time," Mike Verdu, vice president for content at Facebook Reality Labs, said in an interview Monday. "Gaming is the main driver of user engagement and spending. It's the place where it's evolved enough to where developers are seeing numerical success and have reached a self-sustaining state in VR."

"We're now moving from a simple to a more emotional experience," Verdu added. "The early experiences were like a thrill ride in an amusement park: They're short, they're intense, they elicit a very sharp reaction, and then you're done and ready to move on. Fast forward a few years, and the experiences are becoming rich and deep and complex. So the flywheel in gaming has taken off, and we really see that as a key pillar for VR."

Rand Miller, co-creator (with his brother Robyn) of 1993's iconic game Myst, said in an interview that he had wanted to create a VR version of the game for years, but did not move forward in earnest until he discovered the original Quest headset last year. The value of the Quest's easy setup (no computer required) and cordless freedom became clear to him once his non-techie wife took over the headset, he said. Miller added that lower prices for the new models were also important to make VR available to a broader audience. (The new Quest 2 will start at $299.)

"We really do feel obligated to our fans, and we didn't want Myst in VR to feel like it was elitist, that it was only available if you had a lot of money to get into it," he said. He said the new Myst for Oculus would be available later this year and would essentially be a completely rebuilt version of the original.

Ubisoft, on the other hand, is planning to build totally new games in the Assassin's Creed and Splinter Cell franchises exclusively for Oculus, not remakes of earlier titles. Elizabeth Loverso, vice president for product development at Ubisoft's Red Storm Entertainment unit, said Oculus' advancing technology convinced Ubisoft to move beyond some early tests and bring two of its most valuable franchises to VR.

"We think VR really has an opportunity to give core gamers a different immersive experience while also appealing to a wider audience that does not necessarily play these games on a PC or console," she said.

Brian Gomez, executive producer for Jurassic World games at Universal Games and Digital Platforms, said that the coming Jurassic World Aftermath, announced Wednesday, would be the first Jurassic game for home VR. "Jurassic is one of our most gameable franchises, for sure," he said. "If you look at the game verbs that emerge from placing humans and dinosaurs in a tight space, a lot of gaming emerges pretty naturally."

Facebook had previously said that Electronic Arts was bringing the Medal of Honor series to the wired Rift headset. On Wednesday, the company said it was discontinuing the Rift line to focus closely on the Quest 2. The Medal of Honor game, scheduled for December, will be playable on existing Rifts and also the two Quest models when they are plugged into a PC.

In addition to the game franchise announcements, Facebook said that more than 35 VR titles have now generated more than $1 million in revenue each on Oculus. The company also announced a new game called The Climb 2 from Crytek and a Beat Saber music pack powered by the K-pop megagroup BTS.

Facebook's Verdu said that in addition to various technical improvements for the actual headset, Oculus is working on another major innovation for the Quest 2.

"And we'll do our best to make sure it's not out of stock all the time," he said, "which is another breakthrough."

Protocol | China

China’s era of Big Tech Overwork has ended

Tech companies fear public outcry as much as they do regulatory crackdowns.

Chinese tech workers are fed up. Companies fear political and publish backlashes.

Photo: Susan Fisher Plotner/Getty Images

Two years after Chinese tech workers started a decentralized online protest against grueling overtime work culture, and one year after the plight of delivery workers came under the national spotlight, a chorus of Chinese tech giants have finally made high-profile moves to end the grueling work schedules that many believe have fueled the country's spectacular tech boom — and that many others have criticized as exploitative and cruel.

Over the past two months, at least four Chinese tech giants have announced plans to cancel mandatory overtime; some of the changes are companywide, and others are specific to business units. ByteDance, Kuaishou and Meituan's group-buying platform announced the end of a policy called "Big/Small Week," where a six-day workweek is followed by a more moderate schedule. In early June, a game studio owned by Tencent rolled out a policy that mandated employees punch out at 6 p.m. every Wednesday and take the weekends off.

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Shen Lu

Shen Lu is a reporter with Protocol | China. She has spent six years covering China from inside and outside its borders. Previously, she was a fellow at Asia Society's ChinaFile and a Beijing-based producer for CNN. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times and POLITICO, among other publications. Shen Lu is a founding member of Chinese Storytellers, a community serving and elevating Chinese professionals in the global media industry.

Over the last year, financial institutions have experienced unprecedented demand from their customers for exposure to cryptocurrency, and we've seen an inflow of institutional dollars driving bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to record prices. Some banks have already launched cryptocurrency programs, but many more are evaluating the market.

That's why we've created the Crypto Maturity Model: an iterative roadmap for cryptocurrency product rollout, enabling financial institutions to evaluate market opportunities while addressing compliance requirements.

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Caitlin Barnett, Chainanalysis
Caitlin’s legal and compliance experience encompasses both cryptocurrency and traditional finance. As Director of Regulation and Compliance at Chainalysis, she helps leading financial institutions strategize and build compliance programs in order to adopt cryptocurrencies and offer new products to their customers. In addition, Caitlin helps facilitate dialogue with regulators and the industry on key policy issues within the cryptocurrency industry.
Power

Brownsville, we have a problem

The money and will of Elon Musk are reshaping a tiny Texas city. Its residents are divided on his vision for SpaceX, but their opinion may not matter at all.

When Musk chose Cameron County, he changed its future irrevocably.

Photo: Verónica G. Cárdenas for Protocol

In Boca Chica, Texas, the coastal prairie stretches to the horizon on either side of the Gulf of Mexico, an endless sandbar topped with floating greenery, wheeling gulls and whipping gusts of wind.

Far above the sea on a foggy March day, the camera feed on the Starship jerked and then froze on an image of orange flames shooting into the gray. From the ground below, onlookers strained to see through the opaque sky. After a moment of quiet, jagged edges of steel started to rain from the clouds, battering the ground near the oceanside launch pad, ripping through the dunes, sinking deep into the sand and flats.

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Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (Twitter: @ anna_c_kramer, email: akramer@protocol.com), where she writes about labor and workplace issues. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

People

Facebook’s push to protect young users is a peek at the future of social

More options, more proactive protections, fewer one-size-fits-all answers for being a person on the internet.

Social media companies are racing to find ways to protect underage people on their apps.

Image: Alexander Shatov/Unsplash

Social media companies used to see themselves as open squares, places where everyone could be together in beautiful, skipping-arm-in-arm harmony. But that's not the vision anymore.

Now, Facebook and others are going private. They're trying to rebuild around small groups and messaging. They're also trying to figure out how to build platforms that work for everyone, that don't try to apply the same set of rules to billions of people around the world, that bring everyone together but on each user's terms. It's tricky.

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

Power

Who owns that hot startup? These insiders want to clear it up.

Cap tables are fundamental to startups. So 10 law firms and startup software vendors are teaming up to standardize what they tell you about investors' stakes.

Cap tables describe the ownership of shares in a startup, but they aren't standardized.

Illustration: Protocol

Behind every startup, there's a cap table. Startups have to start keeping track of who owns what, from the moment they're created, to fundraising from venture capitalists, to an eventual IPO or acquisition.

"Everything that happens that is a sexy thing that's important to the tech world, it really is something having to do with the cap table," said David Wang, chief innovation officer at the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati law firm.

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Biz Carson

Biz Carson ( @bizcarson) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol, covering Silicon Valley with a focus on startups and venture capital. Previously, she reported for Forbes and was co-editor of Forbes Next Billion-Dollar Startups list. Before that, she worked for Business Insider, Gigaom, and Wired and started her career as a newspaper designer for Gannett.

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