With the Oculus Rift now officially released and the HTC Vive on it’s way very soon, it looks like virtual reality is on the rise. The question that remains to be seen is whether virtual reality is just a passing trend or a true revolution that will change gaming forever. There have been so many times where “the next big thing” actually ends up quietly fading into the background and slowly dies out. In fact, this has already happened to virtual reality products in the past like Nintendo’s Virtual Boy and various virtual reality arcade machines that began popping up in the ’90s.
There are a lot of reasons why the newest commercial virtual reality devices could potentially fail, but it comes down to how well these new products can appeal to the general public. It seems like the disadvantages outweigh the advantages to many people (including myself). When it comes down to it, the Oculus Rift and other similar products just feel like a very expensive novelty. Something that I’d love to try out every once in awhile, but nothing that would be worth the huge costs that come with it. And the costs are definitely huge, with the Oculus Rift being sold at $600 and the HTC Vive at $800. You’ll also need a fairly high end PC to get the best experience possible with these devices, setting people back another $500-$1000 if they don’t already own one of these computers.
Something that is sometimes overlooked when talking about virtual reality is that it makes gaming more complicated. Playing a video game in virtual reality, although exciting, is something that may not appeal to gamers who just want to relax and have a good time. Instead of making gaming simpler, virtual reality adds another layer of complexity that people have to deal with. I’m not trying to say that this added complexity is a bad thing, but there are a fair amount of people that will simply find it a hassle.
So if these latest products were to sell poorly overall, would virtual reality die out completely? Of course it wouldn’t. However, it could mean that unless virtual reality gaming undergoes a dramatic change to become much cheaper and more accessible it will only ever appeal to a small niche audience. The less of an audience they have, the less inclined developers will be to make larger AAA games for the platform. There may be a lot of games that are compatible with virtual reality, but they also need games that are specific to virtual reality headsets to justify the purchase of one.
I see the position virtual reality gaming will be in as something similar to what happened with Microsoft’s Kinect. When the Kinect was first released it got great reviews, sold a lot of units in the beginning, and seemed like something revolutionary. However, as time went on the games made for the Kinect just weren’t good enough to convince people to buy one for themselves. Now if you take a look at what’s happening with the Oculus Rift, it’s easy to see some of the similarities. For instance, the Oculus Rift initially sold very well and is doing better than expected. Most of the reviews that have come in so far have been largely positive, but a lingering complaint is that the current game library is sort of weak with only a few games that are really worth having. This is surprisingly similar to what happened with the Kinect and it makes sense that the current virtual reality products may end up sharing the same fate as the Kinect, which is now hardly ever talked about.
Do you think virtual reality is going to be successful this time around? Or is it doomed to failure once again? Feel free to let us know in the comments below. As for me, I believe this latest generation of virtual reality products are a huge improvement over their predecessors, but I don’t believe the technology is quite advanced enough that virtual reality is going to become mainstream in the near future.
What do you think about VR and will it fail? Let us know in the comments section below.