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Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney: Oculus storefront is anything but 'open'

tim sweeney attacks oculus oculusstore
Ryan Northway
Along with the Oculus Rift CV1 finally shipping out to consumers this week, the VR headset maker has also launched its own digital store, providing experiences, games, and videos to all of its new VR customers. However, while the Facebook-owned entity has championed the “open” platform, others don’t feel quite as strongly.

One of the most vocal opponents of the Oculus Store is Tim Sweeney, co-founder of longtime development studio Epic Games. He came out swinging at Oculus early on, claiming that it was treating games from platforms other than the Oculus store as if they were “second-class citizens.”

Very disappointing. @Oculus is treating games from sources like Steam and Epic Games as second-class citizens.

— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) March 28, 2016

Although it may be considered a matter of opinion, it is true that in order to play Steam games on the Rift, you do need to select to play them from an “unknown source,” which may put off the uninitiated.

Oculus’ counter to opinions like Sweeney’s was to push its PR arm to discuss how “open” the Oculus store was, allowing developers to release on other platforms too. Sweeney was having none of it though, and came back strong, lampooning its use of the word “open” and suggesting that the hoops developers need to jump through make it anything but.

In what possible sense is this an "open platform"? Developers have to "request keys" for @Oculus DRM. @Polygon

— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) March 28, 2016

Oculus has said for some time that the major point of developing its own storefront wasn’t necessarily to lock content down, but to guarantee a minimum quality level for early Rift users. While there is some measure of truth in that, what’s concerning a number of people is how difficult it is for sellers on that store to publish their games elsewhere too.

While they can do it, they have to request permission through a key system, which is hardly as simple as it could be.

Indeed, there have been talks of Oculus deliberately keeping certain games as exclusives for some time. While both Valve and HTC have been quite vocal about not wanting any developers tied to their platforms, it’s only in recent weeks that there’s been any discussion of games like Dreadhalls and ADR1ft coming to Steam and stores other than Oculus’.

The level of control Oculus is attempting to exert over the industry this early on has many people worried about its Facebook overlords trying to control VR’s run before it can walk.

What do you think of Sweeney’s comments and Oculus’ current strategy?

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