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HTC exec: exclusives are a bad idea for VR

TechCrunch TechCrunch 20/06/2016 Brian Heater

Last week at E3, we had a chance to speak with some of the biggest names in VR, from Oculus to Sony — but that list that wouldn’t be complete without some input from HTC. The smartphone maker was, perhaps, something of a dark horse in the space, but its Vive headset has scored high rankings among industry stalwarts, positioning the Taiwanese for something of a renaissance at the dawn of a new age of computing.

Joel Breton, HTC’s Vice President VR Content, who formerly served as studio head at Bethesda Softworks, sat down with us at the big ole gaming show to discuss how the company plans to set itself apart in the ever more crowded space. “What we’ve done from day one is launch the complete package we feel offers full immersion to the user,” said Breton. “We’ve placed the user right in the action, with full 360-degree movement, including the ability to user your hands in a natural way, to interact with your environment.”

The executive also addressed growing concern around the issue of exclusive titles. “We’re not actively seeking exclusives at all,” he told TechCrunch. “We think that’s a bad idea for VR. It’s not good for consumers, because consumers are being blocked out of content. It’s not good for developers, because what happens is, if they’re locked out of 75- or 80-percent of commercial viability, that’s a horrible thing for their long term business goals. It’s trading short-term cash for long term viability.”

Breton, who has been in the industry since the mid-90s, added that while gaming certainly looks to be the first major push for the format, he believes that it will ultimately comprise a fraction of VR’s ultimate use.

“Gaming is a very important use for VR, and of course the game developers love virtual reality,” explains Breton. “But what we’re seeing on the content side is about 12 different categories – education is one, live video, social apps, healthcare, design. In all of these different areas, there are companies working to figure out the best way to bring those different applications into VR. We’re supporting those folks as much as we can, because we believe that while games are the leading charge, down the road, these other categories will come in and dwarf games in terms of their size, scope and reach.”

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