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Tim Sweeney: Closed VR platforms are 'sending the wrong message'

Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney has put forward a passionate case for a virtual reality industry that's open and cooperative. 

Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney has put forward a passionate case for a virtual reality industry that's open and cooperative. 

In a frank interview with Glixel, Sweeney said that some virtual reality leaders such as Oculus are pursuing the "wrong model" by locking down marketplaces and forcing consumers as well as developers to choose sides.

"When you install the Oculus drivers, by default you can only use the Oculus store," he explained. "You have to rummage through the menu and turn that off if you want to run Steam. Which everybody does. It's just alienating and sends the wrong message to developers.

"It's telling developers: 'You're on notice here. We're going to dominate this thing. And your freedom is going to expire at some point.' It's a terrible precedent to set."

Sweeney's words might come across as a plea for change, but they're also a warning to those who believe closed platforms and restrictive marketplaces are the way forward. 

That's because the veteran programmer believes the open platforms will win in the end. And those unwilling to change tack and start working with their 'competitors' to build a virtual reality ecosystem that works for everyone are going to get left behind. 

"[Open platforms are] going to have a much better selection of software," continued Sweeney. "HTC Vive is a completely open platform, and [...] it is outselling Oculus 2-to-1 worldwide. I think that trend will continue.

"Any software that requires human communication is completely dysfunctional if it's locked to a platform. And everything in VR and AR will be socially centric. Communicating with other people is an integral part of the experience."

To hear more from the Epic founder, you can read through the full interview over on Glixel.

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