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Epic Games’ Tim Sweeney Is Not a Fan of How Oculus Rift Software Is Distributed

The Oculus Rift looks to be a huge success—if you ignore how software is distributed.
Image: Oculus VR

The first reviews of the consumer version of the Oculus Rift are now in, and aside from some legitimate concerns regarding pricing, critics largely seem to be impressed with what Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey and his team have created. (Polygon went so far as to say it "changed the way we think about games.") All isn't perfect, however.

Very disappointing. @Oculus is treating games from sources like Steam and Epic Games as second-class citizens.
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) March 28, 2016


Tim Sweeney, the co-founder of Epic Games, the developer and publisher responsible for hit games like Unreal Tournament and Gears of War, tweeted his displeasure on Monday about how the Oculus Rift treats games that are downloaded from outside its official store. As with the iPhone (App Store) and your average Android smartphone (Google Play), there's a dedicated Oculus Rift store where players can get games called the Oculus Store.

By default, the Oculus Rift blocks all software that's downloaded from places outside the Oculus Store—be that Steam (the video game digital distribution system created by Valve, which just so happens to be developing its own VR headset in conjunction with HTC) or, well, a bunch of VR porn sites.

Of course, users can dive into the Rift's settings to allow it to load software from "unknown sources," but users aren't exactly known to make changes to their default settings.

The concern, then, is that the average Oculus Rift user will only be exposed to software that's distributed via the official Oculus Store, leaving behind developers who aren't on that store. Oculus did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sweeney's comments come just a few weeks after he similarly criticized Microsoft over its handling of the Windows Store, saying that Microsoft was "moving against the entire PC industry" by making certain Windows features exclusive to games distributed via the Windows Store. Microsoft deflected Sweeney's accusations, saying that the Windows Store is a "fully open ecosystem."

Update: After publication, an Oculus VR spokesperson told Motherboard that the Oculus Rift and Store are "designed to provide the best VR experience and content," but noted that users are free to use software from other locations by enabling the use of "unknown sources," as described above.