To roomscale or not to roomscale, or why I hope Oculus loses the VR war

TL;DR: Oculus not having roomscale and touch controllers (and not considering them important) means that they need to lose in order for VR to reach its potential. 

I first tried a modern VR headset in 2014 with the Oculus DK2. Someone was demoing it and I got to try it out for a few minutes. I left extremely disappointed, thinking that this highly hyped product was nothing more then a gimmick. Sure it was neat that you could look around in a virtual environment but overall it was was underwhelming.

Fast forward to early 2016. VR seemed to be gaining even more momentum and there were improvements seemingly every month. When evaluating the two main HMDs there was one main point that stood out to me: The Vive came with motion controllers while the Rift did not. Easy decision to make, especially when the Vive was actually available and arrived within two weeks.

While researching the Rift and Vive one thing really jumped out. Repeatedly I came across assertions by people at Oculus that room scale was not something that people wanted, implicitly saying that room scale (and touch/motion controllers) were not integral to a VR system. There were excuses of people not having enough space, people getting tangled up in cords, people getting hurt by basically walking around a room with a blindfold on.

Motion controllers are not only integral to a VR system, they are the R in VR

After having received the Vive I can say they are categorically wrong. Motion controllers are not only integral to a VR system, they are the R in VR. Without motion controllers the HMDs are nothing more than a gimmick. They bring nothing new to the table other then a different way of controlling a camera. For passive experiences similar to TV or movies this might be enough for them to have value but for anything interactive it is more of the same. How long are you going to strap something to your face when you can get pretty close to the same experience on your monitor?

Motion controllers, on the other hand, bring an entirely new interaction paradigm that does not exist anywhere else. There is no other way (to my knowledge, commercially available) to interact physically with a digital space like this. This is incredibly powerful and is the real step forward that VR brings for us. New ways to work and play will be enabled by this, not by the ability to control your camera with your head.

New ways to work and play will be enabled by motion controls, not by the ability to control your camera with your head

Until Oculus realizes this and acts on it I have to hope they don't win this battle. They obviously have some very smart people and are working on a solution with touch controllers and multiple sensors so I'm pretty sure they have experienced the difference. It feels very much like they are in a position where a competitor beat them to market and now they need to downplay their weaknesses in order to stay competitive. While understandable, it doesn't exactly make you root for them.

Tell me why I'm wrong in the comments!