Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Unity 3D + Oculus Rift: Not free... yet

Since the recent announcement by the Oculus Rift team that their Unity 3D plugin will only work with the Pro version of Unity, there has been a HUGE uproar in the Indie development community about what this implicitly means: Mainly, if you want to use Unity 3D to develop games for the Oculus Rift, you'll have to pay the $1,500 Unity Pro licensing fee.

I've noticed that roughly 90% of the vitriolic comments on this issue fall into one of two categories:
  1. People screaming about how terrible it is to force developers to pay $1,500 for a licensing fee, and then threatening to cancel their pre-orders.
  2. People angrily asking whether or not the information is true - multiple times, despite receiving responses.
Although I very much sympathize with the concerns about this unexpected price tag, a few points should be noted regarding the best method to express those concerns.

Regarding the first category, nobody is being forced to pay $1,500 for a licensing fee.  If you don't want to pay, there are other methods of developing 3D games for the Oculus Rift that are free - mainly, the newly announced FREE Unreal Development Kit which is coming out in April.

Regarding the second category of comments, I have but one relatively obvious piece of advice: Go to the source .  The moment I read this announcement, I shot off an email to the Oculus Rift support team and received a quick response.  Here's what they said:
"Hi Matt - currently the occulus rift implementation requires requires image effects (a Unity Pro feature) to distort the rendering path to properly match the hardware, from what I gather, so this is a technical limitation (not a Unity a business choice) currently. Hopefully further down the line occulus rift developers may provide a plug in which does not require these pro features to work, but as it's early days I can only recommend that you raise your concerns with them on their forums."
True, not exactly the answer I was looking for, but it is a definitive answer.  Screaming for a different answer in the forums is just pointless.

Now let me be clear, I am just as disappointed as the next hobbyist developer about the Unity Pro requirement.  After all, Unity is a breeze to work with, and it seems to support more platforms than the UDK.  But we gotta' keep things in perspective here.  The Oculus Rift development kits haven't even started shipping yet (although technically they are supposed to tomorrow), we are all getting four free months of Unity Pro to play with, and there are a lot of very smart developers out there who probably would like nothing more than to score major points by providing the rest of us with a hack to get things working on the free Unity version.

Meaning, relax.  Take what you can get in the short-term, and if history is any indication, we'll get what we want in the long-term.


  1. My main question is will this even work with my paid version of Unity 3.x Pro. I've been having issues opening the unity packages in my current version and think it's absolute B.S. that I am being forced to upgrade to Unity 4.

    The Oculus Rift had been in development before Unity 4 was even released, so this is very troublesome for me and my small studio, which has limited financial resources to begin with.

    1. I agree, it definitely sucks to be forced into paying for an upgrade. Out of curiosity, what are the errors you're getting when you try opening the unity packages in your current version?

    2. You might have to do some work to make it happen, but there's absolutely no reason this couldn't work with Unity 3.x Pro. Just like the article said, the issue is the full screen image effects, which 3.5 Pro has. After you have that working, you'll just need to get data from the sensor, which I imagine doesn't use any Unity 4 features either.