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Focal Point

Focal Point: Is VR The New 3D TV?

Focal Point: Is VR The New 3D TV?

We ask our industry panel - the brightest and sharpest VR professionals from around the world - one question about the VR industry, business, technology or trending stories every week.

 

When will the VR industry turn the kind of profit that is expected of it? Are we looking at two years or 10? With a launch year that failed to meet expectations, we’re already over-accustomed to answering accusations from outside the industry that VR is the next ‘3DTV-fad-to-failure’ story; what would you say to those detractors?

 

Dan Page, Creative Director at VR World Congress 

“While wildly varying figures have been thrown about by analytics companies over the last couple of years, many working in the industry - especially in the games sector - have presumed a slow uptake in terms of home hardware purchases. So it really depends whose predictions you're looking at.

“That slow uptake is likely why we've not seen as many AAA studios throwing time and money at VR, and this year will definitely be a tough one for smaller VR games studios relying solely on consumer software sales to survive. Keeping a VR studio going with client work (particularly outside of gaming) is a pretty good idea right now!

It's important to remember consumer VR is still at its most expensive for a relatively basic set-up.
Dan Page

“As far as naysayers go, I think it's important to remember consumer VR is still at what's likely to be its most expensive point for a relatively basic set-up. The introduction of more competitively priced high-end headsets from respected companies such as many of Microsoft's partners, I think, is the first indicator that prices are beginning to come down. This is where I predict a few more people will begin to dip their toes in, though it's still going to be a bit of a long slog. It hasn't happened quickly, but that doesn't mean it's not going to happen in good time.

“My main point is more that AR and VR usage is massively on the rise in sectors such as enterprise, B2B, engineering and architecture. There's a lot of work out there; huge amounts of non-gaming applications are being developed right now and the amount of VR-related jobs created in recent years arguably reflects how healthy the VR industry is, which is a stark contrast to the gloomy headlines presuming the state of the VR industry is to be judged by the amount of headsets sold; big businesses aren't buying thousands of headsets but they are paying big money to developers to create bespoke software.”

Microsoft partner VR HMDs: the first indicator that prices are coming down?

 

At no point have Oculus or HTC claimed that there would be a VR revolution overnight.
Jonathan Wagstaff

Jonathan Wagstaff, Country Manager - UK & IE at CONTEXT 

"I've been unimpressed with some of the news stories cropping up recently taking a very negative slant on VR in 2016. At no point have Oculus or HTC claimed that there would be a VR revolution overnight; indeed, they have gone to market with products knowing full well that the required PC hardware is out of reach of most consumers, but also with the sensible belief that the technology will improve in quality and come down in price over time.

“The story about Best Buy pulling Oculus demos is hardly a shocker, given that Best Buy is not the typical store for your average Rift owners (tech savvy early adopters, and business users). If you take 3D printing as an analogous category, sales have grown exponentially in the last few years, and it's a technology which is here to stay.

“The comparison with 3D TV is specious given the huge experiential differences with fully immersive VR. In all the industry events I've attended in recent years, I've never seen gasps or screams from viewers of 3D TV content."

 

If you build a new medium, then you also have to build a whole new industry.
Catherine Allen

Catherine Allen, VR producer and strategist 

“VR has so much potential as a medium - and this is why we have to think long-term about it. It's not like 3D TV, which was the extension of another medium; instead, it's pretty much starting from scratch.

“If you build a new medium, then you also have to build a whole new industry. That's no mean feat. This means that expecting the industry as a whole to turn a profit within two years is unrealistic and shortsighted.

“Facebook, for example, seem to have a good approach: VR forms a part of their 10 year strategy - commercial rewards could be high, but they don't expect it to come overnight.

“There's so much we are yet to learn about VR. For example, we don't even know its cultural context yet; when and where consumers will 'do' VR experiences. In fact, we don't even have a verb to describe 'do-ing' VR yet! When it comes to VR, I'd urge investors to play the long game.”

It's smiles all round at Facebook for a 10-year VR strategy.
 

The medium is so new that potential content types remain largely untested.
Hilmar Veigar Petursson

Hilmar Veigar Petursson, CEO of CCP Games 

“VR is going to be a walk in the desert for five years; 2017 will be super tough, before beginning an uptick in 2018. Triple-A hits are not going to be realistic in a low user install base.

“The key to success in VR business lies in understanding what people will pay for. The medium is so new that potential content types remain largely untested; will the successful business model be more mobile, PC, or console? We should focus on user behaviour, access and retention - then worry about the business model.”

Editor

Steve has been a games journalist on and off since the first PlayStation made games ‘cool’, but he’s never forgotten the thrill of finding a Space Invaders machine in the wild. Neuromancer is one of his favourite books and The Matrix is one of his favourite movies, so he’s been ready for VR all his life.

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