It wasn't so very long ago that we saw the Galaxy Note 4 phablet and Gear S smart watch announced at the IFA in Berlin along with a host of other Samsung products. One of the more unusual items to come to light was the Gear VR, a virtual reality device that is the result of Samsung and Oculus (Yes, that Oculus) collaborating. With the Gear VR getting close to its deadline for becoming available in Canada in the Fall, more details are becoming available in regards to what will be on offer. And its not necessarily good news for developers.
As Samsung is finding out with their Tizen operating system, applications and games are what attracts buyers to a certain device or ecosystem. If you don't have the big name apps or games, the device(s) will struggle to gain market share. To get applications on your device, you need developers to believe in what you are trying to accomplish. And how do you get developers interested? Money. No one likes to work for free, and developers are no different. But its looking as if making money from developing games or apps for the Gear VR won't not be possible at launch because of difficulties in creating a viable payments system for the Virtual Reality device. Despite this, Samsung aren't willing to delay the launch of the Gear VR.
Oculus' Nate Mitchell has told Polygon that the "Gear VR will be launched without monetization in Oculus Home." This is important because Oculus Home will be the only place developers are able to sell their games, except they will instead be giving their games away for free due to the lack of a payments system. Its a Catch-22 situation for developers, do they make their games available free-of-charge or do they wait until a payments system is made available hoping that a competitor doesn't steal their limelight with a similar product? The payments system could be months away as Oculus are only scheduled to release its consumer version of the Oculus Rift in April 2015. Nate Mitchell said that"We (Oculus) have devs, they're making 'made-for-VR' games and they say I'm ready to sell it to all of these users, and we're like, 'Hold that thought for a few months.'"
So whats the answer? There are some who are asking why Oculus can't just use PayPal, why do they need to re-invent the wheel? That could be a viable solution, but one thing to remember is that PayPal will want their cut of the transaction fee, and that means more complications in itself. Depending what the developers decide to do regarding the release of their wares, it can have important consequences for Samsung's Gear VR headset. When consumers purchase a device they expect to have access to good quality games and applications. If the developers decide to hang-fire and wait until a payments system is provided for them, the consumers won't be shy in voicing their opinions, thus creating a negative publicity for both Samsung and Oculus. Being a niche device due to its compatibility with a singular smart phone the Galaxy Note 4, the Gear VR looks to be up against it with this news. The one thing for developers to hold on to is that Oculus' Nate Mitchell said that Oculus are working as fast as they can to get it (the payments system) in place. Only time will tell whether this will be soon enough for developers.
Do you have any suggestions as to which payments system Oculus (and Samsung) should use for selling games from the Oculus Home storefront? Let us know at our Google Plus page.