Those who follow virtual reality developments woke up this morning to some surprising news, with headlines screaming that Frontier’s high-profile space sim Elite: Dangerous dropped Oculus Rift support in favor of the SteamVR powered HTC Vive. Those headlines were especially surprising given that Elite: Dangerous had been one of the best showcases yet for the Oculus Rift development kits (just ask our own Lee Hutchinson).
It turns out those first headlines were wrong — or at least misleading. Elite: Dangerous is still planned for the Oculus Rift, as it always has been. “This is not true. I wish people would check their facts,” said Elite CEO David Braben tweeted in response to one of those early headlines.
The source of the confusion appears to be a statement Frontier gave to Eurogamer saying that “we have now chosen to focus on SteamVR. We have not entered into an exclusivity agreement with any VR manufacturer and we are still working together with Oculus on Rift Support.”
Although Frontier mentions the lack of exclusivity and the ongoing work on Oculus support there in the statement, somehow Eurogamer’s headline “Elite: Dangerous doesn’t officially support Oculus Rift…” That view was soon echoed by numerous other outlets.
Frontier stopped supporting new versions of Oculus’ dev kit SDK in October. At the time, however, the company said it was waiting for a final, stable development environment from Oculus rather than continually reworking the game for frequent pre-release SDK revisions. The latter environment was released by Oculus at the end of December. Frontier reiterated this position today in posts on the Elite forums. “In case people are alarmed by the headline or confused about the details, we thought it best to reiterate what we’ve been saying since the release of the Oculus 0.6 SDK,” writes Frontier Head of Community Management Zac. Antonaci. “As quoted in the story, we are actively working with Oculus and will update the community as soon as we are able to.”
“I can confirm that there is no deal to release Elite on HTC first,” continues Antonacci. “Valve released a stable driver before Oculus, but we remain in close contact with Oculus.”
Translation: Frontier is working on versions of Elite: Dangerous for both the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. Valve’s headset gets Frontier’s immediate focus because it was the first to give the developer a definitive development platform to work on.
That is news in itself; it’s surprising that the Rift version isn’t a central concern for Frontier, just over two months before the Rift ships to early-bird buyers. But it’s not the potentially market-shattering news that was originally reported.
Asked for further comment on the story, a Frontier spokesperson told Ars “we are not commenting directly because the story is not true.”