Before Virtual Reality can reach mainstream adoption, Oculus and other VR advocates need to foster games and apps that really showcase its potential. It’s for this reason that Oculus is throwing an “Oculus’ Mobile VR Jam” contest this year. This “Jam” will allow developers the ability to compete in creating the best “apps, games, and experiences” tailored for Samsung’s Gear VR Innovators Edition. (VR already on the consumer market that leverages the screen of the Galaxy Note 4)
Oculus is offering a pool of $1 million dollars in prizes that will be divided into prize packages for two groups; one for games and the other for apps and “experiences.” The contest will last about a month beginning on April 13th and winners will be announced in June. Developers are expected to submit work at various milestones to qualify and demonstrate progress on their project.
Judgement day for these apps will work as follows per Oculus:
Mobile VR Jam 2015 will have 2 rounds of judging. First, we’ll review videos, images, and descriptions of all the entries to find the most fun and innovative ideas. The top 20% from each track (with a minimum of 30 games and 20 apps or experiences) will go on to the next round, where a panel of judges will play and rate them.
The$1 million dollar cash prizes will be divided amongst 26 winners. The game that is chosen for “Platinum Game” will receive a hefty paycheck of $200,000 dollars. The two “Gold Games” will be chosen and awarded $100,000 dollars each. Four “Silver Games” will be awarded $50,000 dollars each, while 10 “Bronze Games” to receive $10,000 dollars each.
Interestingly enough, Apps and Experiences are allotted a lesser amount of cash prizes with the “Platinum App” only receiving half of what the “Platinum Game” will receive: $100,000 dollars. Still a nice paycheck for what most developers would consider a fun, exciting, and engaging project/competition. You can view all the prize amounts and details about the contest on Oculus’ contest post.
This is not the first time that Oculus has put on a development contest to foster such innovation. Back in 2013, the company held a similar contest, but the focus was solely on game development and the prize was microscopic in comparison; $50,000 divided amongst the winners.
Fatter wallets aside, what’s more interesting about this year’s contest are the prizes for apps and “experiences.” Over the past few years, developers have created a number of interesting “experiences” for the Oculus Rift that show ways in which Virtual Reality can be used beyond the application of gaming. Below are some of the more interesting “experiences” we’ve seen with the Oculus Rift thus far:
Virtual Reality Films
Earlier this year, Oculus demoed the potential for Virtual Reality films at the Sundance Film Festival. They also premiered their new film production crew led by a former Pixar director. While reviews on the experience were across the board, many were enamored with the idea of being completely immerse in their films. Critics stated that it wasn’t sufficiently interactive. The question is, at what point does an interactive film become a video game? Most of us want to be lazy when we watch movies anyway. We think they are onto something that could be huge. You can read our full article on Oculus Rift films here.
Virtual Reality Fitness
Virtual Reality had a strong presence this past January at the Consumer Electronics shows. A number of different Virtual Reality fitness apps were on display. Two apps that stuck out to us were Runtastic and Ebove B\01. Runtastic is a virtual personal trainer that takes you to exotic locations to do your squats; because living room squats just aren’t enough. The Ebove B\01 is actually more than just an app, it’s a full-fledged interactive VR bike that enables you to exercise inside of your home while hitting some incredible trails. The bike moves in accordance with the elevation changes of the ground creating an extremely immersive experience. You can read our initial thoughts on these “experiences” here.
Google Street View
Oculus Street View is an app that mods the typical Google Street View from Google Maps and allows you to immerse yourself into various places. Because Google captures a 360 degree image in its Street View application, you can look around and experience some incredible landmarks. Now, you can finally experience that Eiffel Tower that you’ve always wanted to visit.
As you can tell, we’re extremely excited for the prospect of Virtual Reality. Hopefully, the hefty cash prize of this year’s contest will foster some innovation in both the areas of both games and apps. We’ll keep you posted and we learn more about cool and exciting projects that result from this contest.
What do you think of Virtual Reality? Do you think it’s a fad that will soon die out? Or do you think Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg knows what he’s doing in investing big in Virtual Reality? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.