Crowdfunding platform about more than cash and consumer-focused promotion, says VR headset CEO

Oculus: Kickstarter connects us with developers

The CEO of crowdfunded VR headset firm Oculus has told Develop Kickstarter can serve as an important way for hardware and tech companies to connect with games developers when building the ecosystem of a new platform.

The Oculus Rift headset and related dev kit – already a Kickstarter sensation having closed two-days ago with almost ten-fold the goal-amount pledged by backers – offers a new generation virtual reality hardware.

And Brenden Iribe, Oculus CEO and former Scaleform founder, has told Develop that as well as serving a fundraising tool, marketing platform and gauge of consumer interest, Oculus has also harnessed Kickstarter as a device for connecting with developers and building an ecosystem for the hardware.

"We’re not marketing a consumer product right now, we’re marketing a developer product," said Iribe. "Games developers, software developers are all very hip to the internet and hip to Kickstarter; it is the world that they live in.

“So launching a developer kit on Kickstarter and marketing it that way has proved to be very successful and a great avenue for us instead of doing it all ourselves.”

Oculus, which is headed up by a rostrum of games business veterans, has already attracted support from high profile industry figures including Michael Abrash, John Carmack, Gabe Newell and Cliff Bleszinksi, prompting some to question its need to use Kickstarter for funding.

But the CEO insists the crowdfunding is the most important aspect of the decision to use Kickstarter.

“As far as the actual dollar that we raise from Kickstarter, it is certainly important," stated Iribe. "We’re a small start-up company. That allows us to go out and fund that first set of developer kits without having to run to the institutional big VCs and beg them for money.”

Titles including Doom 3 and Hawken are already set to be released for the tech, which Iribe says he hopes will soon be a destination for VR-specific games.

“That’s where the Holy Grail is,"" he said. "When you have games that really are designed for virtual reality, just like when you have games specifically designed for any platform whether it’s Wii, iPhone, or iPad, that’s where you get some of the very best and most compelling experiences.

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