"I stole a lot from Donkey Kong Country when I made Crash Bandicoot. Insomniac stole a lot from Crash Bandicoot when they made Ratchet & Clank. Including our crates."
- Jason Rubin, VP of Content at Oculus, writing to PCGamer about how exclusivity deals don't do much to stem the spread of ideas, concepts, and crates across the game industry.
This week Oculus VR slashed the price of its Rift VR headset for the second time this year, and to mark the occasion PCGamer emailed Oculus exec Jason Rubin to ask why the company's flagship product is (for a limited time) down to $400.
The answer to that question is what you probably expect -- Oculus wants to get more headsets into people's hands, and it aims to do so by reducing the upfront cost. What's probably more interesting, to game developers, is Rubin's spirited defense of exclusivity deals in the game industry.
In response to PCGamer's question about whether Oculus is okay with departed founder Palmer Luckey pledging money to the developer of Revive (a tool that allows owners of the HTC Vive headset to play VR games that are exclusive to the Rift), Rubin basically said "he's free to do whatever he would like to do."
He also argued that asking for platform exclusivity (temporary or otherwise) in return for funding VR game development won't significantly stymie game development across the industry because devs can take inspiration from exclusives to produce similar work on other platforms.
"If somebody sees something we've done is a good idea, for example The Climb, one of our highest selling titles, it is an exclusive to our platform, and they go off and they make Climbey for another platform, great!" Rubin wrote. "No problem, no argument. We would never say anything negative. That's the way the industry works. I stole a lot from Donkey Kong Country when I made Crash Bandicoot. Insomniac stole a lot from Crash Bandicoot when they made Ratchet & Clank. Including our crates."
This is a fresh spin on an old argument, one that doesn't address a key complaint many devs have expressed with exclusivity deals: that the install base of most VR platforms is too low to justify releasing exclusively on any one of them, even with the financial support of a platform holder.
Still, many developers do find it makes sense for them to release a VR exclusive, and data from a recent VRDC survey suggests the number of devs working on such exclusives has actually risen 10 percent in the last year.
"I applaud all those companies [cutting excluivity deals] for doing what they're doing, because they make the job of bringing VR to the masses easier for me," Rubin added. "It is the right way of doing things."
You can and should read the rest of his comments over on the PCGamer website.