Oculus is dropping the Rift VR headset’s support for renting or buying non-VR movies through Oculus Video, and the service will officially shut down on November 20th. Users will lose access to movies they’ve purchased or rented up to that point, although they’ll be reimbursed for the cost of purchases. They’ll still be able to access videos that are stored on their computer or stream content from services like Facebook 360. Oculus will continue supporting the feature for its two mobile headsets, the Oculus Go and Samsung Gear VR.
Oculus is dropping movie rentals from the Rift because it’s ‘used primarily for gaming’
Road to VR printed an email sent to users about the change. “Over the years, we’ve seen how people use VR for everything from gaming to movies, and it’s become clear that while people love to stream immersive media on other devices, Rift is used primarily for gaming,” it reads in part.
As Variety points out, this announcement coincides with former Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe leaving the company. According to one report, Iribe was unhappy about Facebook pushing Oculu in a “race to the bottom” away from high-end PC VR. There’s certainly evidence that Oculus is focusing on lower-powered, non-PC headsets, particularly the Oculu Quest, a gaming-focused standalone device.
It’s not at all clear that this particular decision signals a lack of commitment to the Rift, though. Watching videos on a Rift isn’t a great experience; since the headset is tethered to a PC, it’s hard to sit back and catch a movie on your couch or bed. And unlike games, movies don’t benefit much from hand controls or sophisticated tracking. It is potentially a sign of drawing a harder distinction between its headsets — or that renting movies isn’t a priority for VR users.