When the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive hit the market a couple of years ago, the gaming world was stoked at the possibilities. Everyone being able to strap on a headset and be instantly immersed in a realistic virtual world that responded to the player’s every move seamlessly. So hyped was the potential of Virtual Reality that Facebook famously spent two billion dollars to acquire Oculus VR in 2014.
But here we are, a few years later and the VR scene is as stagnant as swamp water with headset manufacturers slashing their prices in a vain attempt to boost their sales. But why? I mean the graphics have certainly come a long way since the Virtual Boy flopped.
Why Virtual Reality Headsets Aren’t Popular?
Although many folks who have tried one of these newfangled Virtual Reality headsets have come away impressed. VR has fallen short in areas other than what you see once you put it on the headset.
For one, the high frame rates needed for a smooth VR experience that won’t break your immersion or make you sick demands fairly high-end computer hardware. Which when combined with an expensive VR headset is out of reach for many consumers.
Weight & Cables
Even if you have the money for a VR setup, they are not immune to a criticism that is common in many wearables. People just don’t particularly want to wear a bunch of gadgets. Reportedly, many consumers were turned off by the weight and bulk of Virtual Reality headsets. And not to mention, the tentacle-like cables connecting them to their PC or PlayStation as it were.
And on the subject of bulk, the sheer amount of space needed to get the full room scale VR experience is a straight-up non-starter for folks who live in smaller places. Especially if they already have a large gaming tower in a battle station that’s taking up a bunch of room.
Lack of Games & Development
And then there is the lack of solid VR focused games out there. Developer reception to Virtual Reality platforms has been a little lackluster due to tepid sales of the headsets themselves. It sort of creates a chicken and egg problem where it’s hard for the entire ecosystem to gain momentum.
Also read, Hellblade Is Even Scarier in VR
You can only sell so many units based on Robo Recall. And you can only play so much Robo Recall before you like. And this is a problem that is exacerbated by the fact that VR development is more difficult and expensive than regular game development due to the technical challenges involved.
For one thing, the game engines that are needed to develop and refine these VR titles are still themselves being developed since the tech is relatively new. And there aren’t that many developers with you know, deep resumes about all their experience working on Virtual Reality over the last 10 or 20 years because obviously, its new.
So, are we saying then that we should just give up any hope that Virtual Reality will ever be relevant? Well, no, at least not in the long term. The technology does have potential. Especially when you consider that mainstream VR headsets have only been around a few years.
Also, the wireless adapters for them are starting to appear in the market. Additionally, Virtual Reality could prove to be more popular for applications other than gaming than we expected. Applications such as education, healthcare, engineering, for well, CDR uses.
But it’s also pretty clear that with the obstacles we have, it may be quite a few years before VR becomes a fixture in our homes. Especially as augmented reality experiences and this includes everything from Snapchat to Pokemon go have commanded far more attention in the immersive entertainment space. With developers seeing it as a much more lucrative cash cow than VR gaming.
But don’t worry, if spending half your paycheck on a Virtual Reality is unrealistic for you, there’s good news. I hear that sitting in a real cubicle for eight hours a day is actually a pretty close approximation of job simulator in VR anyway.