Editorial: Why VR Is Going To Be An Enormous Flop

VR isn’t going to succeed. It doesn’t matter how many companies jump in, how technically competent their VR goggles might be, nor even if they can figure out a way that wearing them doesn’t make your face melt off and slide down your neck – VR gaming will never be more than a niche interest, and a lot of money is about to get wasted.

You know the 3D TV in your living room, right? Right? Oh wait, you didn’t buy a 3D TV? But everyone was going to buy a 3D TV! They would replace regular TV! In fact, so dramatic has been the flop that is 3D TV that most major manufacturers have stopped making new ones, and the very short-lived 3D channels such as Sky Sports 3D are being switched off forever. And why? Because people just want to watch TV. They don’t want to sit at the right angle, wear the special pair of glasses, and then sit transfixed at the screen lest their eyes wander to the clock and the effect be lost. People just want to watch TV.

People just want to play games.

The first time you have a go on VR goggles you likely have a moment of excitement – a moment of realising that if you look to the left, you see what’s happening to the left in the game. A moment of understanding that the game is surrounding you, that you’re inside it. A moment. Then you stop noticing and get on with playing the game, except now to see what’s happening to the left you have to remember to laboriously swivel your entire head, rather than twitch your mouse a bit. A little longer and you start realising, “Hey, when I’m playing a game on my screen and I want to see behind me, I turn the view around and look behind me, and it kind of feels like I’m inside it.

The clamour for 3D has always been generated by tech companies, then carried by an excited audience right up until the first time they try it. And then people realise, “Oh, you know, I was doing a perfectly good job of perceiving 3D on my own, thanks.” It’s perhaps possible that the last time you watched a film on your flat television screen, you didn’t start shouting, “BUT HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHO’S IN THE BACKGROUND AND WHO’S IN THE FOREGROUND?! THEY’RE ALL JUST ONE FLAT IMAGE!” The same is true for VR. When you play a game, very little of your mental effort is dedicated to reminding yourself that you’re not actually in the jungle, or surrounded by dinosaurs – you just sink into it, embrace it, and your imagination takes care of the rest.

VR replaces the role of the imagination, and for a while that feels like a bonus, a boost. But then once your eyes are stinging from sweat, you’re head’s exhausted from carrying the gear, and your dizzy as fuck from constantly spinning about trying to see everything, the idea of a chair and a monitor suddenly becomes very appealing.

And that’s not even the real reason VR is doomed. Think about price. It’s extraordinarily unlikely that Valve or Oculus are going to release their tech at under $200. It would be a huge surprise is Microsoft or Sony did it even on their production scale. A massively expensive peripheral that the vast, vast majority of potential gaming customers won’t ever buy. And without a considerable customer base, any games created needing goggles to be played is never going to see the sales to justify the development.

If you doubt this, consider the Kinect. £130 at launch, with Microsoft spending half a billion dollars on advertising, and… where is it now? Sure, they sold a ton of them, but not nearly enough to make it worth a developer’s time to switch their big franchise over to the device. Microsoft’s disastrous decision to bundle it with the Xbox ONE was quickly reversed, as people were bemused as to what they’d ever want one for. Sure, if you got one, you played that one dance game on it on 360, but then what?

VR goggles will sell a lot too. All of the big four manufacturers will report great numbers in the first couple of weeks, and then go quiet about the steep drop until the next Black Friday/Christmas. Enthusiastic pre-orderers and early buyers will excitedly try out the tech, muck around in whatever gimmicky software is bundled, and spend another £50/$60 on a big brand game that’s designed to work with them. They’ll rave on forums about how thrilling it all is, because it will be thrilling for a bit, and then things will get quieter.

But the price and lack of a large enough user-base isn’t the issue either.
The issue’s not even that most people won’t want to stumble around in their extremely confined space filled with sharp-edged furniture wearing a cumbersome blindfold, trying to stave off motion sickness long enough to shoot an alien.

The issue is the games.

There will be a few high-profile games build for VR to accompany the launch of the rival systems. After this, publishers will not want to waste hundreds of millions on further VR-only projects, but will support a VR mode for their larger games. At that point players will be in the same situation as cinema-goers are now, where major movies are filmed and released in 2D, with a skew-whiff 3D version created in post-production and given a higher entry fee. Given the choice, the sensible film watcher recognises that the film was designed and intended for 2D, so sees it in 2D. And game players will get savvy to this too – they’ll realise that if a game works fine on a monitor or TV screen, then the VR version can’t be much more special. Eventually developers will stop wasting time putting the VR mode in (much as the brief dalliance with 3D modes for games quickly went away), and games will go back to how they’ve always been, and how everyone has always wanted them to be.

There just won’t be the games to make it worth owning one.

There will be, just as was the case with the Kinect, some fascinating indie projects. There’s already SoundSelf that brilliantly subverts the purpose of the goggles. There will be others. They will be superb novelties, darlings of game shows, and well received by other developers who already own VR kits. They will not sell goggles, but at least will give the owners of the dust-gathering tech some consolation.

VR is a lovely idea. It’s been a lovely idea since the early 90s, and has persistently failed to get off the ground ever since. This time out things are certainly going farther than usual, but it won’t break through. Because until it can work without a giant headset, making you look like a lost robot tourist, people will always prefer to sit at their screen. People like TV like TV, they like game controllers like game controllers, and they like videogames like videogames. Until something comes along that genuinely improves the experience without limiting it (black and white TV to colour TV, joysticks to console controllers, 2D graphics to 3D graphics), it’s doomed. Sorry about that.

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  1. Orillion says:

    Honestly, the only thing I can see being significantly better with VR is porn, and there’s a pretty small number of people who are willing to pay that kind of price tag on something to help them get off.

    • jcvandan says:

      Yes, 3D VR porn. I’d buy that for a dollar!

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Eh. Even with porn, people will use it once and then not bother again. Who has the time to lug out massive head gear every time they want to jerk off, then put it away again. Men are as lazy as they are horny and sex is 99% imagination anyway.

      I do think VR will be a thing eventually, but not until it’s light weight, wearable, and projected onto our environments to create hybrid realities. Think, for example, of the possibility of tagging any object in the world virtually for other people to see with digital spray paint….trees, walls, sidewalks. Or coloring the moon any shade you like. Stuff like that will usher in the the real VR revolution.

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        Godwhacker says:

        Who has the time to lug out massive head gear every time they want to jerk off, then put it away again.

        “head” “gear” etc etc

      • reggiep says:

        Sex is 99% imagination? I think you’re doing it wrong.

        • Ejia says:

          99% of the time I think I’m having it, I’m only imagining I’m having it.

        • Unclepauly says:

          Exactly my thought when I read it. I know for a fact I’m very visual and just a certain girls flip of hair can bring me to full attention.

        • lurkalisk says:

          The number’s wrong, but the idea’s about right. It’s about 50% for men, 80% for women, as far as science can tell.

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        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        The dating sims on these things will be amazing.

      • SavageTech says:

        Eh. Even with porn, people will use it once and then not bother again. Who has the time to lug out massive head gear every time they want to jerk off, then put it away again. Men are as lazy as they are horny and sex is 99% imagination anyway.

        Nobody pulls out all the stops every time they want to rub one out, but that doesn’t mean there’s no market for elaborate jerkoff aids. Just look at the Fleshlight; it’s a fake vagina that needs to be cleaned thoroughly after every use, and requires the user to keep applying lube as they use it. It’s also one of the most popular (if not the most popular) men’s toys on the market despite the fact that it requires that the user thoroughly wash a rubber vag in the sink when they’re done pounding off.

        Given that reality, I hardly think that the minimal effort required to grab a VR headset from their desk and return it to its place afterward is going to stop people from using VR headsets for sexual purposes. It might stop them from using it every time, but humans like sexual variety and VR has the potential to deliver that in spades. I’m not saying it’s going to be successful, but if it fails it’s not going to be due to the extra minute or two it takes to get the headset on before beating it.

    • disconnect says:

      VR porn would certainly give new life to the old “cup of tea” urban legend.

    • 2late2die says:

      So you don’t think that space combat, flight simulators or racing games would be significantly better with VR??

      • Sin Vega says:

        Yeah, all three of those games would be.

      • Orillion says:

        No, I don’t. Flight sims work because you can look at your keyboard to input commands. I have not seen an actual flight sim that didn’t use most of the keys on the board for one thing or another. Arcade-styled sims that you can play with just a controller wouldn’t benefit as much because those tend to rely more on fast movement and quick banking, which is a quick trip to vomit city when it’s happening on a screen an inch from your eyeball. Same deal with racing.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          Not really. Flight sims and racing games used with wheels / sticks etc are extremely intuitive. I have not struggled to find switches at all as I dont use the keyboard in things like P3D. The virtual cockpit works fine so everything is clickable, and with the input tech starting to emerge this will become even better. Yes, there is associated cost of buying these things but there are controllers for every budget. There is no need for a keyboard apart from limited actions like exiting to settings menus, and even this can be solved with good interface design.

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            Dukey says:

            But how much does a decent wheel/stick set you back? And how many people are really likely to by a VR set AND another expensive bit of gear just so they can play one genre of game? Obviously major fans of that genre might be able to justify it, and people with a ridiculous amount of disposable income – but not most most gamers.
            This is like a niche within a niche. Within a niche.

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            @ Dukey – as I said, there are sticks and wheels for every budget (you can get a 3d Pro for about £35), but you are also forgetting that someone who falls in love with something and becomes a fan of it does not think much of going out and spending more. I get that right now you are not convinced, so the idea of spending more money on something you have no interest in is unappealing. But people have a tendency to find the money once their enthusiasm is peaked.

          • P.Funk says:

            Simming is a niche for sure, but its one where the investment is heavy up front for gear but which then heavily drops off because that gear should last you generally at least the life of your PC. I bought X52s and rudder pedals on craigslist and it ran me used less than $100 for the lot. Same with my racing wheel, a used DFGT on craigslist was $50. Those will last me forever just about.

            Here’s an interesting thing. Most proper simmers in say DCS own a TrackIR. Those are expensive, at least as expensive as a VR headset will be. Its a very important quality of life feature, particularly for those who want to dogfight.

            The niche is where you can find lots of willing money and honestly the price of an XBL membership over the lifetime of a joystick is easily more than the stick costs. Its all about priorities really.

            I think the real stopper for mainstream use of VR is the very stiff hardware requirements. Thats gonna be the problem for most I think. It takes the argument that PCs aren’t more expensive than consoles and undoes it because you need skookum hardware to really make it fly and that pushes you over the 1 Grand level for builds.

          • All is Well says:

            What setup do you have? Because while my own setup isn’t TOO shabby (X45 throttle and MS SW Force Feedback 2, which equals 7 axis+21 buttons) it isn’t enough for me to be able to keep my hands from the keyboard throughout a flight in Battle of Stalingrad, which I am currently playing. And even if I did manage I imagine I’d fumble after the four buttons and throttle on the base of the FF2 if I couldn’t see them. Obviously a clickable cockpit would help immensely but that still wouldn’t take care of stuff like external view/map, sadly.

            The point I am trying to get to is that my worry with VR mirrors Orillions: VR is great for flight simulators but, because complex sims require complex controls, this requires that you have an equally complex control interface (not just any old 3-axis joystick) that’s still easy to use without looking at it, preferably one where everything is reachable without lifting your hands. I have never seen one of these. Unless the devs design everything around VR, of course. But I’m not sure that’s likely to happen unless VR really takes off first.

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            Hi All Is Well, I am using GA flight sims, so for me it was P3D. I have a joystick in my left hand, saitek quadrant and a trim heel mounted below it, to my right. I think having clickable cockpits makes a huge difference, but you are right that things like maps need to be better handled. The guy who made the plugin for P3D is working on a version for FSX and he is incorporating kneeboard and in sim map. P3D will already let you get a virtual ATC window up so it will work similarly.

            Practically I just drop my hand from throttle to trim or to the buttons on the front of the quadrant, then find my way back to the throttle or mixture by feel. I have a little time in the A-10C too which is even easier as I use a HOTAS for that and the small cockpit lends itself to leaning in to find your switch. Also, its deeply deeply awesome :D

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            Oh to add, I also have rudders so that helps a ton. I actually rarely map keys to things because I like just using the clickable cockpit (plus P3D hates Windows 8.1 when it comes to controllers). This works whether I am in a 172 or an Airbus. If you fancy a dip, come over to the darkside of P3D or DCS, the water’s lovely (and mostly clickable) :)

          • All is Well says:

            Thanks for the info! I should probably get myself a throttle quadrant too, or maybe the Saitek switch panel – my main problem isn’t really lack of axes because the X45 has two wheels I can use for pitch and mixture and I can use the throttle on the FF2 for radiators, but rather buttons for stuff like air brakes, bomb bay doors, bombsights, etc.

            I actually do fly some DCS from time to time, but I tend to keep to the P-51 and/or Dora, because modern avionics intimidate me :)
            I’ve been meaning to buy the Sabre and then the MiG-21 on some sale so I can start learning jet fighters “from the beginning” so to speak, but might check out FSX too. Is the Steam version any good? Any mods/modules you recommend for someone coming home from combat sims and unsure about his place in the new peacetime world?

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            I use P3D at the moment, but generally the steam edition FSX:SE appears to be a very slightly better performing / more stable version than the boxed, FSX:MS. I do not know if Dovetail are aiming to integrate VR at the moment, so your best bets are going to be Crazy Norman’s addons. In terms of recommendations, I would start with the fun stuff and see if it bites before investing in scenery and en-prettiment things. Can highly recommend the A2A stuff, their Cherokee is a joy to fly (I think I paid about £37). If you fancy airliners, the Aerosoft A319 is accessible yet deep, and not too expensive, about £28 IIRC. A decent throttle quadrant is an extremely useful addition.

            For graphics updates, ORBX regions are amazing but it will get expensive to get them all. BASE and Vector give you global coverage, but are not as high quality. OpenLCEurope is, in places, breathtaking but you need BASE, so I think its best to get a small aircraft and an ORBX region and see if the bug bites before thinking of adding airports and REX4 couds / environmentals or Active Sky Next.

          • K_Sezegedin says:

            @ All is Well

            21 buttons? Using a CH HOTAS setup with shifted commands I have 32 buttons per device, and could have 64 more per device if I used mode controls.

            Yeah, only thing I really use the keyboard for is taking screenshots, activating external views or dumping shadowplay. As has been mentioned clickable cockpits do a make a big difference, if there’s some minor function unbound I just click the switch with the mouse.

            Yeah tbh I couldn’t care less about VR’s mass appeal – I’m getting a set for Elite, DCS and Rise of Flight alone, any other games it works with are just gravy.

          • Apocalypse says:

            I am still using my sidewinder back from the nineties, well spent $100, new the thing might be now $600, but who cares, I got mine already and still working fine. ;-)

            In case I need more buttons, I can switch to my 48+48 or so button ch products hotas set, with a mode option to use another 2 sets of those buttons if the need really arise. All for just ~ $200, ok, the pedals are another 100, but you don´t really need those, they are just fancy extras.

            Besides all that: As many, many people said already: A good sim as clickable cockpits, meaning you can access literally every function of the machine anyway via your mouse. And anything important fits just fine even onto something like a TM 16000M or cobra defender. ~ $50, not really a huge investment for starting equipment.

        • Blaaaaaaag says:

          “fast movement and quick banking… is a quick trip to vomit city when it’s happening on a screen an inch from your eyeball. Same deal with racing.”

          That’s just not a universal truth, at all. I get no motion sickness or ‘sim-sickness’ at all while playing Elite or iRacing. The first time I tried iRacing on a triple-screen setup, I got about the same oh-so-slight-and-very-temporary queasy feeling for the first 3 or 4 corners as I did when I first tried it with the DK2. That ever-so-subtle discomfort went away extremely quickly.

        • rfa says:

          The niche of driving / racing game enthusiasts who will buy VR already have a wheel set up.

          I do, and will probably get a ps4/Morpheus bundle with gt7. I know this is a PC blog, but as far as I can guess, the main users of this will be gran Turismo players.

          Hopefully, given the architecture of the ps4 & USB connectivity this will work with PC, as my wheel does, but if not I’ll still play gt7

      • SuicideKing says:

        Unless keyboard controls are involved, maybe.

      • hungrycookpot says:

        Significantly better? No. Slightly more interesting for a while, maybe. So you can look around the cockpit and see all the fancy lights and buttons that probably don’t do anything. Cool. You could bind that to the ALT key and still look around the cockpit with your mouse, at no extra cost, without putting a rig over your face.

        It would be cool, but as has been said, not worth it to me until its ultra-light weight, doesn’t obscure my real world vision, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

    • rodan32 says:

      There is a privacy component. On the VR headset, no one needs to know what you’re REALLY watching. You can say you’re watching a TED talk or something.

      • Hypocee says:

        Not if you’re the gender that consumes almost all porn.

      • DrMcCoy says:

        Yes, because “No, no, I’m not watching porn, I’m whacking off to a TED talk about a guy building a toaster from scratch!” is so much better when you’ve just been caught with your gear in hand…

        • Earl-Grey says:

          “But honey, you won’t believe how nice and even the toast comes out! So now I’M the wierd one?!”

    • badmothergamer says:

      VR porn might work for those living alone, but who wants to put on a blindfold to jerk knowing your roommate could walk in anytime and you would never know?

      As for the substance of the article, I agree. The cost of entry is too high for what is essentially a gimmick. I’d love to try out Elite Dangerous in VR, but I’m certain the novelty would wear off (much like my enjoyment of the game itself) within a few hours.

      The best thing VR has brought us thus far is funny videos of people falling into their TVs and furniture trying to play. Far more entertaining than when the Wii came out and everyone was throwing their controller through the TV.

      • DodgyG33za says:

        I really think you need to wait and try it before you come to that conclusion. I love ED with the rift. Without it the game is pretty average, but with it you are IN the game. ED has integrated the rift brilliantly, and every time I go back to the game I am amazed that it is as good as it is. The only thing lacking is the resolution, which will be improved for consumer hopefully. Certainly the DK2 is heaps better than the DK1

        I have a track record of overestimating the masses, but for a PC gamer this is an amazing experience, and one that will only get better as the tech and ideas get better.

        It is rather weird playing games with others in the room though. I prefer to play when others are not around, as it is more like ‘going away’, especially with my 10 speaker headphones.

    • nearly says:

      I think you’re vastly underestimating how much people spend on pornography and sex toys.

      Keep in mind that the role of porn in tech is a lot like the US military in tech: their money is responsible for a lot of advancements that become mainstream and often decide between competing formats.

      Note that while 3D TV has more or less flopped, 4K still seems very much the up and comer, and I’m sure no small part of that is related to how to effectively it can incorporate/adapt to porn

    • Tekrunner says:

      Some people will pay a lot of money for porn / sex-related things, so I’m not sure that’s the problem. But what would VR porn be like exactly? A movie in which you can be be physically present and look around? I’m not sure how it would be shot, and see the argument regarding 3D: as far as I know 3D porn hasn’t really become a thing, precisely because the benefits aren’t high enough to balance the inconveniences.

      Maybe porn games then? But current non-VR technology can already produce porn / erotic games that would be both very realistic and fulfill all of your own personal fantasy. Yet to my knowledge existing porn games run on 10-year old engines, so they look much worse and are much more limited than what they could potentially do. Economics and moral considerations trapped these games into an underdeveloped niche, and I don’t see how VR could change that.

    • funzportz says:

      It sounds like a good idea right up the moment you forget where you left the tissues and realize the rest of the family silently snuck up on you.

    • manny says:

      Traditionally porn does push the limits of entertainment technology, and better porn experience would probably be the major factor in VR adoption. After all, it’s still cheaper than a girlfriend or prostitutes.

  2. Beanbee says:

    I like to think of 3D TVs/Movies/VR as it stands as 2D+, not 3D. It’s really misusing the term until you actually, honestly, can’t-tell-the-difference, feel you are physically in that world.

    Only then will we wonder why we spend decades/centuries staring at small glass and plastic screens.

  3. LogicalDash says:

    If there’s one genre that can sell VR, it’s walking simulators.

    • JP says:

      Only not really. Normal first person movement is very disorienting in VR, most experiences trying to fix the viewpoint or only let you move straight ahead without turning. I’ve worked with the tech and I don’t see a way around that.

      • LexW1 says:

        Whilst you’re quite right with human-style movement being a totally unsolved problem with VR (despite a zillion attempts, all of them having far more problems than WSAD and mouselook or two sticks, somehow), I think you may find he is joking/being sarcastic. I’m pretty sure next-to-no people buy walking simulators, and they sure as shit won’t move VR headsets.

        Crytek’s walking simulator seems to be particularly quixotic, combining a number of things which the sort of rich hardcore nerdy gamers who can afford and are willing to use headsets do not generally enjoy (games about kids, games with no violence, games where you walk around, etc.).

        • JP says:

          You haven’t seen sales figures for Proteus, Gone Home, Dear Esther, Stanley Parable etc then. Not big by CoD standards, but big enough to fund those developers’ future projects.

          Agree those games won’t move VR headsets, but my first thought when Oculus appeared was that those kinds of games might work. Having experienced it myself, they won’t.

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            Dear Esther in VR was pretty awful, but then it was reliant on injectors, with barely functioning 3D and nauseating warping. There are however a number of made-for-rift demos that are infinitely better, even the short sci-fi “First Try” was more convincing just by virtue of not making you feel ill.

          • Blaaaaaaag says:

            I’m with ya on that one. After hearing that Half-Life 2 was a smooth and fantastic VR experience, I gave it a go, but it just does not work for me. Even if I imagine I’m piloting a tiny hovertank that glides and strafes all over, I still feel sick after 5 minutes. I cannot imagine a Virtuix Omni or similar device would do a whole lot to fix that.

            Weirdly, Minecraft doesn’t have quite as pronounced of a sim-sickness effect on me, but sadly isn’t as epic as I’d hoped either. Not sure why, but exploring my own creations in VR doesn’t have the impact or wow-factor I expected.

  4. almostDead says:

    Now do the holodeck.

    • LaurieCheers says:

      Yes, Valve seems to have the right approach to finding a niche for VR. It’s not a new control scheme for first person shooters; it’s a new type of haunted house, puzzle room, or art installation. When you are actually walking around a physical space, carefully laid out to match the virtual world… THAT’s when the technology will really click.

  5. try2bcool69 says:

    Wow, someone dares to speak the truth.

    • Unclepauly says:

      There’s a huge group of people saying this very thing.

  6. gunny1993 says:

    The only thing that going to be”the next big thing” is a way to bypass the lag between thinking and doing, neural input (that works well), apart from that, things may be useful or interesting but ultimately they’ll just be a sidegrade rather than an actual upgrade.

  7. ikanreed says:

    I’m not particularly inclined to agree.

    Not because VR is the wave of the future or whatever. But because niche markets can and do survive in the PC gaming space. Yeah, they’re selling the hardware to pretty much only techy types who have lots of money. But there’s enough of them to sustain a small manufacturing concern(not a billion dollar industry) and a couple games per year.

    • MrUnimport says:

      This. I think VR headsets are going to occupy a niche akin to flightsticks.

      • Smuckers says:

        I think that the problem with vr as a niche device might be the fact that investors might be a little upset at a public company (like, say, facebook) investing billions of dollars into developing and marketing such a niche product. Once it fails to take off, don’t expect further support down the line. (Personally, i think vr is neat, and i am looking forward to trying it, but i mostly agree with John that it seems highly unlikely for any of these heasets to really take off).

        • Ethaor says:

          Yes. Personally I’ll be all over VR, being an avid player of PC simulations a VR headset will be a god send.
          That said I wouldn’t call VR to flop nor think a comparison to 3D TVs is fair. No one is expecting VR to be sold to everyone worldwide and replace every screen there is, unlike 3D TVs, VR headsets are an additional piece of hardware who doesn’t pretend to replace anything, it just pretend to provide a new additional experience.

          According to Facebook, its VR roadmap is very very long term, at some point they hope and see VR being omnipresent in our world but they never said (afaik) that their firsts consumer headsets would be anything else than a niche product for a niche market, thus I’m sure their sales projections are rather accurate. Finally I’d like to point out that being a very long term project they already acknowledged that they wouldn’t sell the hardware at its real price but much lower, they just want to get the product out there and get the phenomenon rolling. That’s another form of capitalizing. It’s not always about ROI by the end of the next fiscal year.

          • LexW1 says:

            Lots of companies involved absolutely are pretending that it will be “sold to everyone worldwide” (as in rich-by-world-standards people who own HD TVs and the like right now), including Facebook, as you mention – they may think it’s “long term”, but the point is here, even long term, there’s no reason it’s going to be successful (MS’ HoloLens is a different story – augmented reality has infinitely more potential for success than VR).

            People absolutely are pretending, too, that it will be more than just another approach, more than just another experience. Denying that suggests you’ve not been following the press releases, events and so on associated with various VR bits and bobs.

        • MrUnimport says:

          Yeah, I wasn’t remotely worried about the future of Oculus until all this hubbub started. If VR truly does ‘flop’, it won’t be because of limitations of the hardware, it’ll be because people threw more money at it than it could ever be expected to make. Look at all this nonsense about Oculus Home, for example: did anyone ask for a bundled storefront when they decided to support the Rift? Did anyone starting out really think that VR would displace all forms of video games forever? Pushing it as ‘the next big thing’ can only lead to disappointment, IMO.

          Back when it was first announced, the Rift was just to be relatively affordable, working VR: not a magic wonder helmet that did all things for everyone. Some barrier to entry was to be expected, especially for a first-gen device. Now they’re chasing a mainstream demographic with all the attendant buzzwords, praying that the masses, who (as John said) just want to sit down and play games, are willing to put up with the clunk and the inconvenience that inextricably goes with VR. I’m not being elitist here, it’s simply a matter of standards.

          • Unclepauly says:

            Truest post I’ve seen so far. At 1st it was a realistic thing but it’s been blown way out of proportion by the facebook acquisition and everyone else trying to jump in and get a piece of the pie when they seen how much traction the Oculus got. It’s now went off the deep end and I’m sure we’ll get some decent games out of it but the higher you fly the farther you fall.

          • SanguineAngel says:

            Yes, this pretty much echoes my impression of things. Given time VR could have slowly developed over a prolonged period of time, until a point when we eventually had a product that WOULD be suitable for the great unwashed masses. Trying foist something that requires a level of tolerance for new tech on them is likely to lead to disinterest.

      • Frank says:

        That’s quite a small niche. I haven’t thought or heard of flight sticks in 20 years. I’m guessing their R&D has always been a lot cheaper than VR’s is now.

        That reminds me: the last time I heard about flight sticks, Virtual Boy, aka VR-32, was a thing. Man, what a huge hit that was!

    • Shuck says:

      Except that the only reason we’re even having this discussion now, more than 20 years after VR came out for PC games, is because it basically died rather than become a niche.

      • Wisq says:

        20 years ago was way too early. Yes, flight sticks survived as a niche since before then, but they were mostly just simple hardware sitting on a desk and didn’t have the ergonomics issues VR did.

        A better comparison would be, say, TrackIR. In fact, VR is probably set to take TrackIR’s place, since it’s an objectively better way to track a head (e.g. it doesn’t require staring at the screen out of the corner of your eye, nor the requisite movement acceleration to allow you to look behind yourself).

        I expect VR will continue to stick around in at *least* that capacity (i.e. as a cockpit simulator for dedicated sim players), and any further mainstream penetration will just be a bonus on top of that.

    • Mctittles says:

      Yea I don’t see VR getting as big as Oculus have been saying but I do hope it sticks around as a niche. Not many people own racing wheels, but I have a blast with mine and I hope they continue to be made. For racing games, good VR sounds perfect as one of the biggest problems with racing on the PC is you have to sacrifice good depth perception by having a higher field of view in order to see more of the road; and it’s very difficult to look to the left and right for other drivers without a VR headset.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Yes, to me the consumer version releases were going to be more “next wave of enthusiast adoption” rather than XBox360 levels of demand overnight. That makes more sense to me anyway – new tech comes out, and adoption is slow but increases with time. Prices drop and the next wave of adoption happens until it becomes commonplace. I kind of remember the same thing happening with video recorders, where only some people had one, and was spoken of in magical hushed tones. Then we got a second hand betamax and we were all stunned (when it worked). Before long it was just a case of “oh we need a new VHS recorder”.

        I don’t think a failure of mass adoption overnight is a flop, though the money men who have thrown their budgets and future promotions behind it might just see it that way.

    • RDStrong says:

      The entire article is weird to me. VR is not meant to completely replace monitors or TVs, but yet the author is implying it’ll fail because it will not be able to do what it was never aiming to do in the first place.

      Also, the notion that VR will replace imagination because it is an immersive experience is incredibly absurd to me. Real life is fully immersive and we don’t have complete awareness of our surroundings but yet I able to imagine what is around me based on sensory input and previous experience. If you can’t do that then god help you.

  8. Urthman says:

    …very little of your mental effort is dedicated to reminding yourself that you’re not actually in the jungle, or surrounded by dinosaurs – you just sink into it, embrace it, and your imagination takes care of the rest.

    VR replaces the role of the imagination

    This is also the reason movies never really gained a foothold in the marketplace against books. Moving pictures on a screen can never replace readers’ imaginations.

    Snark aside, I mostly agree with you, but think it’s still too early to tell whether the vividness of VR will be a big enough improvement over flat screens to survive this time. And long-term, when high res screens very cheap and very small, it seems inevitable. The only question is whether the technology is good enough to get off the ground this time.

    • John Walker says:

      You (and the person below) misunderstood. I meant the imagination of that specific example, where you imagine the world is all around you.

      • darkhog says:

        Imagination is domain of the children and therefore is childish. If you use “imagination”, you’re either a child or person not adjusted to live in society.

        You do know that Call Of Duty is so popular, because game’s world is as realistic as it’s possible without inhibiting fun factor, right? It’s not some n64 platformer that is taking place in LSD-land or weedland with too saturated colors. No. Graphics are realistic.

        Such game can only be improved by VR.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          How did you manage to type this without using your imagination? I am curious.

        • Sin Vega says:

          Paging Mr. Poe…

        • Durkonkell says:

          I’m so sad for you.

        • dangermouse76 says:

          “Matron ! He’s out of bed again.”

        • Premium User Badge

          PoulWrist says:

          You “imagine” that games like that can only be improved by VR.

          Let’s not talk more about how absurdly wrong your statement is, Darkhog ;)

        • SuicideKing says:

          I imagine that you’re a very funny person in real life.

        • frightlever says:

          I’m not a COD player, but haven’t the last few games veered between slaying Nazi zombies and fffwhooshing around with jet packs? Of course I may just have imagined that, because I’m six.

        • Apocalypse says:

          The irony of calling a game for children successful because it requires less imagination, which would be childish, while games for adults, like splash platoon are totally childish.

          Dude, that is exactly what gaming is about. Doing stuff that is not part of your daily reality. Laundry, bills, military duty, kids and wifes and husbands are plenty of realistic for any adult. We want toys in our free time. Sex toys, game toys, sword toys, etc … and occasional a nice car toy.

      • SnazzyD says:

        I have to ask the author directly – were you at E3 and/or have you tried either the Valve Vive headset or the commercial Rift headset demo’d at E3 this week. More to the point, are you even AWARE that these products have improved dramatically and are both production ready (the Vive coming out in just 4 months)?

        I am going to go out on a limb and guess that this is point-counterpoint and we’ll see a contrarian article tomorrow – otherwise, you can’t seriously be this out of the loop and be running a gaming website…

    • Archonsod says:

      I think John probably hit the nail on the head when he compared moving your head to moving a mouse. All technology that tends to survive has one thing in common – it saves time and effort on whatever it replaced. It is actually far quicker, and far less effort, to twitch a mouse a few inches to the right or left than it is to rotate your head an equivalent distance (in fact I suspect it would be quite difficult to reduce the effort needed to sit and stare at the same spot). It’s why Kinect and it’s ilk died a death – given the option of waving an arm or simply pressing a button humanity is inclined to pick the button every time, particularly if it’s a sustained activity.

      • Glubber says:

        I assume that at some point, if not right off the bat, sensitivity can be set to minimize movement. It would be just like trackir, where smaller movements of the head correlate to larger ones ingame.

        • Sin Vega says:

          …which means you’re then forced to sit with your head utterly rigid at all times.

          • Glubber says:

            Not if you create a small deadline for yourself, and even with a fairly sensitive setting in my flight sims I never feel like I’m rigidly fixed. Of course, I look around a lot, which is kind of the point. Ymmv.

          • Glubber says:

            *deadzone, rather.

          • jrodman says:

            Somehow I don’t like the sound of creating a small deadzone for my head.

        • Unclepauly says:

          Eye tracking solves this.

        • UnholySmoke says:

          I imagine this would be possible…but it completely misses the point of VR. Which is, you feel as though you’re immersed – looking back looks back, looking down looks down…. The drive to eliminate motion sickness is to make it more immersive, not less. I reckon this idea is an express ticket to vomit town.

      • SnazzyD says:

        I’m utterly amazed how 90% of your are completely missing the point, but when a website runs drivel like this I suppose you can’t expect its constituents to be all that more in touch with the times.

        Both commercial, soon to be released HMDs from Oculus and Valve are getting rave reviews, and you people are still going on about nausea from head movements, and other nastiness that hasn’t been an issue in ages – much less so in the latest versions that have 1:1 tracking and seamless input down pat.

        It actually hurts my brain to read this, and I have to wonder if the general population is really this dim. I don’t give a toss whether any of you ever experience VR, and some of you appear to be so closed-minded, you probably wouldn’t even try it out given the chance (and yet you call yourselves gamers…). It will be quite some time before VR goes mainstream (as you’re all clearly demonstrating that you don’t understand the value propsition) but it will succeed (already has) and is here to stay.

        It’s probably best if y’all just stick with your 2D screens and mindsets ;)

        • harmlos says:

          You might want to read the article again, because you are completely missing the article’s point. The question is not if the VR headsets are totally amazing or not (by all accounts they are, and if they will really be available for ~$200-300 I’m going to buy one myself), it is if they are still amazing enough to put up with having to wear a VR headset once the novelty has worn off. Most importantly, the question is if the headset manufacturers can move enough units to make their and game developers’ investments worth it.

          • ion says:

            Thing is, it sounds like very few of you have actually tried one (well a later generation one). It doesn’t feel like a novelty at all, it feels essential in my eyes. I think you guys are forgetting this provides us with a separate control interface for looking (a good example is Arma) around without changing ur direction (which is very important). For me I’ll be buying on day one and will probably not bother with my screens for most of my time on my machine (why have 3 screens when you have an infinitely large screen). For example having an unlimited desktop will be so handy for me it’s crazy (you can bet there will be a mod for it anyway, otherwise i’ll make it myself). Granted it will still be niche, as PC gaming as its a niche area, but I really think u’ll be surprised how many people want this, alot more than who have posted on here anyway.


          • jrodman says:

            Given that some of my favorite games are from the 1980s, I’m a litltle doubtful of VR becoming essential for my gaming.

      • Bine says:

        I am more thrilled to use the Rift for games like ARMA2 and 3. Where your head and your body can move independently. I don’t expect to get out of my chair at all but the headset portion looks like it’l be thrilling in that situation. With the mouse controlling aim / body movement and the head piece controlling looking around. It’s exciting to think about personally.

        Other games that may benefite immensely are air combat simulators. Games where you sit down in your chair with a throttle and joystick. Then fly a ship. Space or otherwise. Elite:Dangerous is probably going to benefite immensely off this. Being able to look up and around your cockpit to keep track of things flying passed you while you operate the ship is big. There are devices that replace it with head gestures but that just doesn’t work for me as my monitor doesn’t move with my head if i turn it.

        Another game style I see it working very well for are games like Mount and Blade. Melee combat is difficult in first person. Most games that have it use an over-the-shoulder style of camera. If the nausia inducing effects can befigured out it’l be an immense help for these games too!

        If its a let down it’l be a let down but I see it working very well for these types of games.

      • jbomber says:

        I think that misses what VR is replacing. Sure, a headset is more cumbersome than just sitting in front of a TV, but you know what, putting on a heaset is a lot easier than flying to Rome, seeing a concert, or getting a social experience.

        What VR offers is the feeling that you actually are at a place, and VR social experience, with actual people on the other end, will have the opportunity to be super compelling, cause they can replace something that would be more difficult. Question is if technology is there to replace that…

  9. Synesthesia says:


    I believe it will flop with many sorts of games, like FPS’s, but I’m hoping it will revitalize genres which have been less loved, because of today’s limitations.

    Cockpit games are going to be back, in force. And not only simulators.

    “VR replaces the role of the imagination”

    pfft. Come on man, what’s next, books being erased from the face of the earth by color television?

    • Juan Carlo says:

      The only genre I think would benefit greatly from it is survival horror. I couldn’t imagine playing something like “Outcast” in a completely immersive VR environment.

      • Juan Carlo says:

        Gah, I meant “Outlast.”

      • Kitsunin says:

        Totally with you on horror, since the VR would just make it feel even more inescapable, hoo boy. I feel like I’d have to try it…and then never, ever again do VR horror.

        But I don’t get how you wouldn’t think games in which VR equals near complete immersion won’t work? I mean, a VR headset game about piloting a spaceship could be nearly identical to what we imagine actual experience is. Likewise, a racing game, or even something more low-key like Euro-truck simulator, would be absolutely perfect, minus of course the tactile feeling of the car beneath you.

        • Synesthesia says:

          mmh,yes. Driving games are going to be the shit. Imagine driving this: link to youtube.com

          oh, yeah.

          • Continuity says:

            I found driving to be majorly vomit inducing with DK 1, maybe that was just the limitations of DK1 but i think maybe not. The faster your brain thinks you’re moving the greater the vestibular dysphoria.

          • SnazzyD says:

            “I found driving to be majorly vomit inducing with DK 1, maybe that was just the limitations of DK1 but i think maybe not.”

            Wow….if you think VR hasn’t progressed since the first DK1 headset to the commercial version revealed this week at E3 (apparently you weren’t aware, along with the author of this fine piece of journalism), you are completely out to lunch. There was no positional tracking with the DK1 and the headset itself could not keep up with rapid head movements even if you kept your head on a swivel. All that is completely resolved and the tracking, input and screen qualities are massively improved.

            Why are you people commenting on something you clearly know nothing about? Boggles the mind…

          • Continuity says:

            I didn’t say VR hasn’t progressed, I was just speaking about my experience. Why don’t you try speaking about your experience?

    • Reapy says:

      Ww2 tank simulator. As tank commander of a small crew you walk around the small area and get reports and order your crew about. Occasionally pop your head out the hatch but quickly duck back as a bullet zips by.

      Sub stimulator.

      Tabletop Sim. Watch board games come to life.

      Real estate previews.

      Real time chat with buddies that have avatars.

      Porn. Google real touch and tell me a vr web camera with that device won’t sell. Even just a vr Web cam (guy had working prototype with a kinect already) to talk with a person is awesome.

      VR ain’t replacing anything, just making some thing so much better.

  10. MrUnimport says:

    >At that point players will be in the same situation as cinema-goers are now, where major movies are filmed and released in 2D, with a skew-whiff 3D version created in post-production and given a higher entry fee. Given the choice, the sensible film watcher recognises that the film was designed and intended for 2D, so sees it in 2D.

    What a silly analogy. Games are games, and the vast majority of them these days involve navigating 3D environments. There may be some UI oddness resulting from the attempt to overlay a 2D HUD onto a 3D space, but otherwise I can’t imagine why the “sensible” player would decide that a 3D game was designed and intended for 2D. We’re not talking about a situation like post-production 3D movies where the whole depth of a scene is compressed awkwardly into a space that appears five feet from background to foreground, and solid objects become floating cardboard cutouts: we’re talking about games that already are in three dimensions.

    That said, you raise some good points re: ergonomic concerns. When barriers to entry like that exist, the good-enough form resists displacement.

    • Procrastination Giant says:

      Yeah, while the rest of the article brings up some good points i simply couldn’t resist commenting on that particular quote either, since it IS a REALLY silly and analogy that is devoid of any logic whatsoever. Filming in actual 3D is a huge pain since it typically requires two lenses/cameras and a rather nonsensical rig/dolly setup in general… not to mention that it adds a TON of work to the post-production workflow. – Which is why studios kind of stopped doing that and often go for the silly post-pro alternative.

      It is COMPLETELY different with games, since all you have to do in your typical game is to render a second virtual camera with a slight offset and render the UI as an actual object instead of a flat/fixed layer – Most modern engines will feature that option anyway, while older/other ones probably get modded/hacked to support actual 3D – Just look at the ridiculously large list of games that work decently enough with that silly 3D vision nonsense… Often the only complaint is the UI, as you already pointed out.

      VR will be HUGE for simulations and walking sims, niche for anything else… Will it be as big as Oculus/Valve/etc are expecting right now? Probably not… but there definitely will be a market for it.

    • Shuck says:

      The problem is, although (some) games may be designed around 3D environments, they’re also designed to be seen on 2D screens. Moving to a 3D view may seem like an easy, obvious change, but it isn’t. It’s not just about the UI, nor about making sure players are focusing on the right things, nor about making everything properly 3D and viewable from a first-person perspective, etc. – it’s about completely designing an experience around the limitations of VR, because if you don’t, you have a bunch of nauseous players.

      • Faxmachinen says:

        The nauseating effect is only a problem if you actually track head position in the game.

      • banananas says:

        Thank you for bringing up this point!
        I’m also pretty optimistic about it. Of course, everything Mr Walker mentioned in his editorial could be absolutely spot on, and the future of VR is doomed by becoming a niche market after the initial sales peak. From a financial viewpoint, yeah, it will probably fail. Though only focusing on the mass appeal and the monetary value of it isn’t doing this technology justice I think, because as an artistic tool it could be very valuable.
        I’m still very curious what future developers are going to come up with after the thing is set loose. Once available, VR might inspire some very clever people to do some interesting things we can’t even imagine from today thinking forward. And isn’t that something to positively look forward to?

      • SnazzyD says:

        Of course 2D experiences do not translate well (at all, in most cases) when viewed through a 3D VR headset. Programs like VorpX can “inject” into games and re-render them in 3D, but the experiences in supported games range from awesome to wonky. More recently, VorpX added a virtual home gaming theater which has you sitting in a comfy chair in front of a massive screen through which you game. A pretty cool way to play old classics on a big screen in a virtual world of your own.

        There are plenty of made-for-VR titles which will be released alongside the Rift and the Vive, but you’d have to Google (and think for yourselves) before learning more about that….

  11. CameO73 says:

    Yeah, I think you’re right. Initially it’s pretty cool (I’ve got a Google Cardboard lying around somewhere), but there are only a couple of really interesting use cases. I loved being on stage with Paul McCartney for example (footage shot with a special surround camera).

    Btw, I noticed a couple of spelling errors in the text:

    – …and your dizzy as fuck -> should be …and YOU’RE dizzy as fuck
    – It would be a huge surprise is Microsoft or Sony did it -> It would be a huge surprise IF Microsoft or Sony did it

  12. Rodman1_r2 says:

    Maybe you’re right, but maybe not. VR tech has never been actually good until now, and we don’t have consumer release of the new tech yet. A bit premature to say it’s doomed. We’ve had consumer release of 3d tvs for years now, and it’s clear people aren’t that into it, but that’s not true of VR.

    • Sakkura says:

      But it’s 3D, and everyone knows people don’t want 3D! Just look what happened to 3D TVs and monitors. They failed. And remember that silly experiment with 3D rendered games in the 90s, that obviously went nowhere either.

      TLDR silly speculation. I hope this is just repeating some of those earlier article pairs that would defend two opposite viewpoints – so we’d see a “why VR is going to be an enormous success” article tomorrow. Because there’s real cause for optimism, just as there is cause for some scepticism as well. Totally dismissing VR at this point is daft.

      • Rodman1_r2 says:

        Walter Murch on Roger Ebert’s blog had a better argument: link to rogerebert.com
        But he was talking about 3d at home or in theaters, where your focus is fixed 10 feet, or maybe 30-50 feet from you, while convergence shifted all around. The same thing happens in VR, but my understanding is that the lenses focus the light so as if everything is at infinity. So there’s still the convergence/focus disconnect, but I think it’s probably easier on your eyes because focus isn’t at a fixed arbitrary point like 15 ft away with convergence shifting in front and behind that.

        VR is fundamentally different than 3d though. 3d movies/TV just change the way the screen looks a little, while in contrast VR fundamentally changes your perception of a scene. So it makes sense that 3d might be more of a hassle than it’s worth, while VR could be something that truly takes off. Loads of people never talked about 3d like it was a religious experience that changed their view of the world, but plenty have with VR.

        So yeah, this editorial a bit premature.

        • Kitsunin says:

          I mean, the 3DS is very successful. Sure the 3D has nothing to do with it, but there’s always a certain cool factor to seeing your favorite characters rendered in a such a way that they look just like little figurines on your display. Even the novelty factor is just so, so much more massive going from 3D to VR. Even if there are loads of problems which mean playing games with VR isn’t feasible more than every so often, I would still absolutely pay $200 just for the ability to digitally tour super iconic locations like Hogwarts…well, not right now but once I have a job…

      • Cinek says:

        “But it’s 3D, and everyone knows people don’t want 3D” – speak for yourself. And: I laughed hard at your 3D tv analogy, only shows how uninformed you are.

        • Asurmen says:

          I don’t think you read the rest of the post.

        • Sakkura says:

          That part was sarcasm. I was playing along with the “3D cinema/TV flopped so VR will flop too” angle, then applying it to 3D rendered games – which actually succeeded wildly in the late 90s, and now dominate gaming. So that shows you can’t just apply the 3D cinema/TV flop to related fields like VR.

  13. hypocritelecteur says:

    I think Microsoft’s take on VR has a lot more potential, honestly, both in practical applications and in entertainment. They do need to work on expanding the active space of the display, but that technology is extraordinarily compelling.

    • hypocritelecteur says:

      Surgeons, DIY home repair, training of almost any kind is possible.

    • Hypocee says:

      That’s because it’s not VR. It’s AR, augmented reality blending digital objects with real ones, which even major VR players like Carmack have sometimes stated is the ultimate goal.

    • Rodman1_r2 says:

      I was super excited about MSs AR thing, until I heard the field of view is tiny. Hopefully it’ll get better, it will eventually be great, but not so far from what I’ve heard. It’s a neat trick/sleight of hand they did again at e3, showing the audience the perspective from a camera, which is not at all representative of the field of view in the glasses, at least what it was recently.

      The slightly worrying thing is that Carmack has said that even a latency of like 2-4ms and the digital doesn’t appear stable on the real world, you can see everything lagging behind just a little. It would be great if they solved that, but yeah.

      • hypocritelecteur says:

        Well, all of these technologies are still nascent. I just find AR infinitely more compelling as a practical technology that has a chance of seeing wide use.

  14. Jason Lefkowitz says:

    This has long been my suspicion too — people couldn’t even be convinced to buy a pair of lightweight $30 3D glasses for each viewer in their household, and now we’re going to convince them to strap a heavy, $200+ head-mounted display to each viewer’s face? It seems improbable.

    Of course, there are counterarguments. The one I hear most often is “once you try it, you’ll change your mind!”, which for all I know (I haven’t shelled out the money for an Oculus dev kit or the like) may be true. But if it is true, it’s still a huge problem because it implies that the only way VR headsets are going to sell is if every potential customer can be roped into going down to the local big-box electronics store and trying one on, which of course isn’t going to happen. In the Age of Amazon One-Click Buying, products you have to try to appreciate don’t have a lot of room to make their pitch.

    The counterargument that strikes me as strongest is that there’s a lot of room between “total failure” and “completely replaces TV,” and a product can still make a lot of money without ever traversing the full distance from the one end of that spectrum to the other. I could see VR being a Big Deal for PC gamers, for instance, even if it never cracks the more social/casual console-gaming and televised-entertainment markets. It’s a much easier sell to the people who are already buying top-end NVidia GPUs and Razer peripherals to play Far Cry 7 or whatever than it is to the people who plop themselves down in front of the TV once a week to catch Game of Thrones. And that’s still a healthy market, even if it’s nowhere near as big.

    • Frbls says:

      Carmack said that the main reason they were developing gear VR, despite the many flaws of this system compared to the real oculus, is to advadvertise VR to the general public.
      Gear VR can still give the “Wow” factor with a subset of vr apps to people completely outside the gaming world. Most uses of GVR are apparently apps like photo panoramas visualisation.
      They observed that people who own a GVR tend to carry it with them to show it to friends and family, thus spreading a taste of VR to the common people and hopefully planting the seed.
      Of course it must be good enough to prevent people from vomiting on the first try.

  15. SaintAn says:

    I disagree.

  16. Goodtwist says:

    You know nothing, John Walker.

  17. LordCrash says:

    So many lines of text that could be summed up with one word: speculation.

    People always speculate about technology and how people will react to it. Guess what? A good portion of them is always wrong, often the very same people for different technologies. Reality is that human psychology and human societies are incredibly complex and broad concepts that can lead to many different behaviours of both and individual and group level. It’s almost impossible to predict what people will adopt and enjoy next year, not even speaking about a larger time frame. It’s just speculation no matter how many arguments you try to find for backing up a certain view. You always find them but in the end it’s just a testament for your search to back up a pre-made opinion.

    Sorry, but this is just another purely speculative article on a topic that is too complex and abstract for solid predictions.

  18. DrCop says:

    I agree with a lot of the points here but this sounds like someone’s crabby old uncle grumping about all these newfangled whatsits and forgets that new technologies don’t appear flawless and fully formed. Early 3d games had ugly graphics, terrible camera controls and other problems but should they have not been made? I agree that VR stuff isn’t there yet but like everything else it’ll grow by refining and learning

  19. geldonyetich says:

    Personally, I think it comes down to the implementation. All the downsides Mr. Walker is mentioning here in regards to 3D are things that could have been artfully mitigated and re-managed within the gaming application so that they would not be a detriment from the product.

    As far as the software is concerned, developers are having difficulty doing 3D right, primarily due to their lack of experience in working with it. It literally adds a whole new dimension to the difficulty of presenting the game to the end user. There are a rare few cases (such as Guild Wars 2 and Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D) where implemention was done well enough to see its potential.

    Further, I think more advanced VR implementations, such as holograms, could render a lot of the physical wear and tear involved in their use moot.

    Although, I will pretext this and say that perhaps there are times when 2D is more suitable to your current mood. Lets not say that’s a failure of 3D. Lets say that’s a diversification of genres. Sometimes you’re in the mood for 2D, sometimes you’re in the mood for 3D. Without 3D, you don’t get an option.

    • Premium User Badge

      X_kot says:

      I agree with you that implementation is a deciding factor in this field, especially given how users often multitask with different media in parallel. Having to wear something that obscures vision makes it difficult to also watch television, check Facebook, and keep an eye on kids/pets/loved ones/prisoners.

      Holography might be able to address this particular issue (i.e., autostereoscopic multiview refraction-based 3D technology), or even something pseudo-holographic, such as the Heliodisplay.

  20. jellydonut says:

    That’s like saying steering wheels for driving simulators are going to be a flop because most people won’t buy them.

    Most people don’t need to buy into VR, and it’s definitely going to be worth it for any kind of driving or flying simulator. For normal games, it’s going to be a stupid gimmick, but who cares?

    • amateurviking says:

      Facebook might want some kind of return on their $2 billion maybe? Not sure Mad Catz are turning that kind of dough over most years.

      • jellydonut says:

        If VR can contribute to Facebook being less well off in addition to making Euro Truck Simulator 2 a hundred times cooler, I’m all for it.

  21. Sakkura says:

    Luddites, keeping it real since 1811.

  22. Boult Upright says:

    Whether it’s a raging success or a flop, I won’t be getting it. Like Mr Walker suggests, I just want to play games.

    • Continuity says:

      I think that’s an important distinction to make, there will be regular games and there will be VR games, they are not two genre they’re are two different things, like the difference between radio and TV. Just because TV has been invented doesn’t mean you have to stop listening to the radio.

      I’m not suggesting by the way that VR will supplant regular gaming in the way the TV has supplanted radio, in reality my expectations, at least for the first 10 years or so, are that VR will remain a niche – kind of like hard core sims with their expensive peripherals are niche at the moment (I say this as someone with Trask-IR, a HOTAS, a Wheel, and two sets of peddles.. not to mention my game pads…).

  23. Zenicetus says:

    That was a good rant, and I agree with most of it.

    However, I think there still might be a decent market for VR in the vehicle sim category — driving sims, flight sims, cockpit-level space games. All of these have your avatar seated in a “chair” so they don’t have to deal with the somatic motion issues. The hardcore part of this audience is already using dedicated controllers that don’t require seeing the controls (HOTAS users in Elite:D for example). And TrackIR is already a popular head-tracking peripheral in these games. Gamers in this niche area don’t mind spending hundreds of dollars on accessory hardware, and they’re also likely to be running the high-end GPU’s to drive the goggles.

    So yes, I think as far as mainstream gaming goes, we’ll probably see more “VR in Post” as an added bonus and not a main focus. The more interesting applications will be indie projects, and then as a natural fit for these vehicle-based games and simulations.

    Or I could be wrong….

    • schlusenbach says:

      No, you’re right.

      I agree with most of the article, but I believe that VR has and will have a market for “seated experiences”. Games like Eurotruck Simulator, Elite D. and similar games will in the future always support VR, because it’s relatively easy to do and really suits the genre.

    • Premium User Badge

      yhancik says:

      I base my experience on trying only one racing game on the DK2, but I noticed I spent my time looking straight in front of me.. because really, most of the time I was watching where I was going, not the ads on the side of the road. It was slightly more “immersive” than a screen, immensely more uncomfortable too (but I wear glasses). I felt the whole head movements tracking thing was useless in this case.

      But then again, I suck at driving games, so that this with a whole sea of salt.

      • DodgyG33za says:

        Not really surprising, since driving on a road is a pretty linear experience.

        In a space or flight sim however, tactical awareness of what is above and around you is much more important. In Elite Dangerous with the Rift is is natural to track an object as it flies around and past you, and then you bring your craft around to train your guns on it.

        It is also great to look out of the canopy beneath you so you can land in a space dock, or track the sun as you do a high speed fly by.

        I have shown my rifts (DK1 and DK2) to about 50 non-gamers. They have all been blown away and only one felt ill (on the DK1, not the DK2) I noticed that some did sit staring straight ahead until they were told they didn’t have to.

  24. Penguin_Factory says:

    I’m not convinced by any of this. There are valid concerns- price is the biggest one- but a lot of it just sounds like “people aren’t going to like it!” and it’s far too early to make that call. Let’s see how the actual retail releases of these things work out, then we’ll talk.

    Also: I’m getting really tired of people comparing VR to 3D. The push for 3D failed because people just fundamentally didn’t want it. The unveiling of 3D TVs and the resurgence of 3D movies were widely met with either cynicism or outright derision, whereas that’s not at all the vibe I’m getting from the conversation around VR. A lot of people are excited about these things.

    Are there enough of them to make VR anything more than a specialty product for the ultra-hardcore? Maybe not, but we’ll see.

    • Raoul Duke says:

      Was going to post something similar.

      The fundamental difference between 3DTV and VR is… when you see a 3D movie, you go, “eh, that’s kinda cool”. I’m yet to see anyone try (current) VR for the first time and be anything other than completely blown away by the level of immersion it produces. It genuinely is something completely different to sitting in front of a monitor with a mouse and keyboard. There is an overwhelming feeling that you are There, in another place.

      I also think that it is quite likely that given the billions of dollars being tipped into this particular tech that these companies probably have far more advanced prototypes they are using which have convinced them that the tech is there to produce something truly wonderful and worth a few hundred bucks.

      Mr Walker strikes me as someone who might somehow have a vision or physiological reaction to VR which is out of the ordinary. I find his descriptions of the experience almost completely unlike my own, and they are almost completely unlike the descriptions of others who have experienced the current crop of VR gear.

    • Josh W says:

      I really like 3D! So long as people aren’t chucking things at my face, it’s really cool. I very rarely go for 3D movies in the cinema because I’m already begrudging the price of a normal ticket, and I never put the 3D on the TV because it requires us to get a special set of glasses and sit in a certain place. But that doesn’t stop 3D being absolutely brilliant.

      If you go up a mountain or something, you get a really great 3D experience, a sense of space that’s hugely amplified compared to if you just see a photo of it. I mean, it makes a difference that you are actually there, but one of the things that doesn’t get captured is exactly that sense of distance and volume. Fog helps, as do a few other tricks, but 3Dness gets you there in a wider range of different situations.

      In fact, that is one way that VR is actually less demanding than normal games; when you have good headphones and atmospheric music, you can just sort of cosy up into the experience, enjoy the detail without having to project yourself or keep concentration.

      I suspect that people will be able to play slow VR games when they are too tired to do anything else, having some slidy experience that is too slow to throw off their inner ear, and compensates for it’s slowness with richness and complexity of sight and sound.

      It’d also be cool to see things that amplify telepresence; letting your fake computer arms move in an amplified way relative to your actual arm movements, reaching out to things much more distant in the world, just like a mouse amplifies the tiny movements of our hands, so you can act like you have telekinesis or something.

  25. daphne says:

    This reads like something that will have a companion piece arguing the exact opposite tomorrow.

    If this is your genuine opinion, it’s interesting — I have a feeling that some of the most prominent use of VR will be therapeutic, particularly for phobias and other psychiatric disorders where cognitive behavioral therapy is found helpful. Fake presence is going to do wonders for convincing the brain of whatever you want to convince it of.

  26. Kuipo says:

    Wow… So many drastically wrong comparisons and assumptions on why people would be buying into these things and which types of games they would be playing on them. I’m astounded. 200$ being an expensive peripheral is also funny to hear on a site dedicated mainly to PC gaming. Mice and keyboards can run close to that, let alone video cards or any other number of devices on computers.

    • John Walker says:

      Goodness me, where on Earth are you buying your keyboards?! I got 6 for £30 most recently. I get through a lot of keyboards.

      • Horg says:

        You know, you could just buy one fake rubber keyboard for stress relief. Will save money in the long run and less messy when thrown.

      • Hypocee says:

        Mechanicals start at 100 currencies and you know that, please don’t front.

        • orionite says:

          My XHTML game is weak :(

          • syllopsium says:

            Your comment is spot on, though. Buy quality once, rather than budget several times. Unless quality provides practically no advantage (see umbrellas : I’ve given up on buying anything other than cheap brollys)

      • Halk says:

        200$ is not all that much compared what people do pay and buy for silly gadgets. Or smartphones. Or gold plated tiny smart phones.

      • syllopsium says:

        John, do yourself a favour and buy yourself a keyboard that doesn’t need replacing :

        link to pckeyboard.com

        Yes, it’s expensive, but it’ll last forever. I’m using a custom hard wired Dvorak buckling spring Classic and an Endura Pro from Unicomp. They’re great value, it’s just that sadly the shipping and import duty is onerous – I bought three and it worked out at about 70 quid each including import taxes and delivery. You’ll pay more for a gaming keyboard, though. If you’re in the US, you have no excuse to buy anything else.

        Before that I used an IBM Model M, which is still working, but wasn’t Dvorak layout. The only failure I’ve had on a Unicomp keyboard is due to spilling a load of water over it. Sadly it became erratic after that, but that was my own fault, and the third keyboard was a spare.

        • John Walker says:

          I am, unfortunately, like a mad old author who insists on using a typewriter or fountain pen. Because my primary craft is writing, the tool I desire for this is a particular type of MS keyboard they no longer manufacture. And it does well enough for letting me press WASD. So label me an old eccentric.

      • yhalothar says:

        Buy a mechanical keyboard and I promise that’s the last keyboard you’ll buy.
        As a technical editor/reviewer, I’m doing a lot of typing, and I was replacing mushy keyboards every 6 months.

        I bought a mechanical Filco four years ago and it’s still as good as the day I took it out of the box, even though I regularly pound the thing with both my fists and/or head.

        The Keyboard Company sells them in the UK.

    • Premium User Badge

      yhancik says:

      But we need a keyboard and mouse to operate our computer anyway. A graphic card has many purposes. A VR headset can only be used with dedicated applications, so except if your main hobby is Playing VR Games, it becomes difficult to justify the investment.

  27. amateurviking says:

    It’s definitely an issue. I’d love to give the kit a go. No real desire to actually own it though. I have similar feelings about steering wheels and pedals and the like.

  28. Cerzi says:

    You’re getting old, John.

    Or just sly.

    • John Walker says:

      I shall gloat by linking back to this.

      • Continuity says:

        And so will we if you’re wrong :D

        • Arglebargle says:

          Which is what it’s likely destined for. Alongside such gems as ‘No one will need more than 640K.’ ‘No one wants that touchscreen ipad thing.’ ‘No one will buy a $100,000 electric car.’, etc, etc….

      • Hobbes says:

        Well either this is the hill a lot of VR fans (myself included) decide to pitch our battle and die on. Or this is the hill you pitch your battle and die on. If you’re wrong about this, and having experienced a dev kit and been blown away by what I experienced, I have a hunch you might just be. This could be one of those articles that comes back to haunt you.

        RPS generally gets it right, but when it drops a clanger, boy does it drop a clanger. Banished anyone?

        Alec picked that hill and well, that didn’t end well did it *tigerish grin*

      • Robin says:

        I rather think that we’ll be doing the gloating John, seeing as you’ve essentially just rewritten this again: link to escapistmagazine.com

        In 2007 the Nokia N95 was proclaimed to be the “best smartphone of all time”. Carping on about headsets being bulky, expensive and isolating as holding true in perpetuity when all the major tech companies in the world are racing to miniaturise them is myopic in the extreme.

        Complaining that VR lacks utility for current genres of games is equally lacking in imagination. You might as well ask what a keyboard adds to the experience of arcade games. Considering you’ve just written a top 25 adventure games chart that shows the genre (or at least your narrow definition of it) has been stagnant since the 1990s, I can think of at least one type of game that is overdue a new approach.

        It’s all largely irrelevant anyway. VR and AR’s applications beyond games are so overwhelmingly beneficial that even if everything you predict comes to pass, games will be carried along with the tide.

  29. newc0253 says:

    I agree with this 100%.

    Just like the 3D television and the Apple watch, VR is a cumbersome pain that will never get off the ground.

    Instead, VR’s future is most likely something like paintball or laserquest or themeparks, curated environments where everything is set up properly for you to maximise the experience of PvP against your digitally enhanced mates.

    Also, there will be undoubtedly be a VR-enhanced Second Life for all the corporations, saddo futurists and other weirdos who inhabit the current one.

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      Exactly, its like that stupid idea that people would use the internet on their phone.

  30. McPartyson says:

    Agree with what you say.

    This is just another step into the direction we are going with gaming. I see us all eventually plugging in to a machine at some point to experience anything we can possibly imagine. This machine will nourish and satisfy all needs of the human body, we won’t need to leave other then to sleep? (unless someone develops a cure for sleep). Until that happens…lol

    This current iteration of VR hardware will fail not too long after the consumer products are released and things will be back to normal and VR will have to go back to the drawing board to come back years later with another iteration of VR based on slightly improved technology.

  31. Xzi says:

    I’m going to have to disagree. There are a number of reasons why things are likely to be different this time. It’s not just one niche segment of PC gamers who are going to get to enjoy this, after all…both major console manufacturers are joining the race. Which means advertising for VR will be coming at you from every angle, no matter which platform you play games on. Which means a lot of people will be compelled to at least go out at demo one of the headsets at their local tech shop. And that’s all it will take to hook many of them.

    I’d say you vastly underestimate the uses for VR beyond gaming, as well. It’s one thing to have a 3DTV, but it’s entirely another to be able to watch your favorite movies in a virtual theater all to yourself. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d be willing to pay for a headset for that alone…some movies were simply meant to be seen on the big screen.

    • DodgyG33za says:

      Or the opportunity to be IN the next version of Toy Story, following the characters around, choosing to watch scenes from any angle you choose.

  32. james___uk says:

    This is a good, compelling argument, I’ve had this same fear too that maybe VR isn’t going to succeed in the long run….. Now here’s my counter argument…

    Being someone who had a DK2 for a while the thing is, even though there were a lot of sick enducing demos that gave me headaches and times I didn’t use the thing, I still saw so much in VR for genuine use, I didn’t see it as a gimmick at all when I saw it done right (and it will be more often when we have the Oculus store front and more professionals releasing software). I played hours of Half Life 2 VR, aside from the dodgy ergonomics of the DK2 (which look to have been fixed) it was fine to play for those hours on end but most crucially, I don’t ever want to play it any other way again. There’s something more to that experience that I didn’t want to be without, and then there’s other experiences like horror games, the genuine fear I got playing Alien Isolation was exhilarating and really memorable, much better than what a monitor could give me (you almost feel forced to hear and see that alien jumping at yer face). Now there are games I would rather play without the headset, COULD really only play without a headset (The Witcher 3 for example) but there’s experiences that you could ONLY do in VR, and would only want to do in VR (after the initial excitement).

    Then there’s the non gaming crowd, this is something that can appeal to your grandma, even a clueless non gaming Joe sees that it’s got genuine uses; therapy, training, visualisation.

    Now of course I could be wrong, this could be somewhat wishful thinking and you could be spot on but I think it’s now at the point where it’s gone beyond being a gimmick

    • w0bbl3r says:

      Therapy, training and visualisation are not a large user-based option though. These will be medical, therapeutic instances, where the device is bought by a company or such, not by individuals.

      • james___uk says:

        That’s true, although it could still be a pretty big market in itself. But yeah it’s a niche…..would keep it alive somewhat though!

  33. macallen says:

    I agree with the article. My 72″ TV that I purchased a couple of years ago came with 3D. I didn’t want it, but it came with it. Never used it, don’t own the glasses, have no desire. I have a TrackIR, which lets me emulate head tracking for a LOT less than the Rift/etc, and without the headaches.

    It’s a fad, foisted upon us by the tech industry to try to convince us we need it.

  34. Hypocee says:

    I’m surprised to see something I think coming out of Walker, to be honest. As folks up the page have noted, I think VR will survive as a healthy little presence in gaming from now on rather than failing off the shelves. However, I do think it’s still fair to label steadily selling some hardware and software for a decent profit, a ‘flop’. A movie can make a profit and still be a flop; it’s all a question of intent and investment. Facebook bought the most popular messaging app for 2 gigabucks wasn’t it – that’s a captive ad audience composed of ‘smartphone users who like to text’, all of them. Microsoft bought Minecraft for $1.7B – that’s the primary pastime and media interest of at least half a generation of the Western world’s children, Ninja Turtles plus Harry Potter plus LEGO. Facebook bought Oculus for $2B. They did not spend that money intending to be the equivalent of a good flightstick vendor.

    I do think one important facet that was left out is VR’s affordance of new input methods. Touch screens may suck in general, but those wild early days on the App Store gave us some new paradigms that don’t translate well even now to M+K or a gamepad. I think we’ll see some really interesting stuff come out of people actually having hands (Well. Lobster claws) in a natural space with easy camera control for the first time. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if we find Kinect’s flaws are less relevant when you’re not watching a laggy doppelganger on a screen in front of you.

    • Hypocee says:

      Ack, left out the last thing about input. That sort of exciting exploration is relevant to me, but I’m an oldish grumpy hipster seeking, in part, innovation for its own sake. That sort of stuff will be the sole domain of little indies, to the extent that’s still a word, and maybe Valve. It’s relevant to me but not mainstream gaming, let alone the Candy Crush audience, let alone let alone non-gamers whose worlds the big VR players have said they want to rock.

      Another way to put it in historical console terms: VR doesn’t have EA’s support.

  35. Blaaaaaaag says:

    Jon, I can only imagine you haven’t tried iRacing in VR whilst sitting in a proper simulator cockpit. Or Elite: Dangerous while sitting in a proper simulator cockpit. As far as I’m concerned, all the VR game I ever need in my entire life is here now, already. I can never go back to playing either of those two on flat screens, it’ll just never happen. In fact, I briefly had an issue with compatibility (Elite doesn’t work with the 0.6 Oculus Runtime at the moment) and I was sad, and not at all interested in the game until I got that fixed. Having to rebind one of my hat switches to be my look button? Gross, no thanks.

    Driving and racing simulators have sold shedloads of triple screen setups, and the majority of triple-screen sim-racers are going to be moving on up to VR HMDs. They are just too good for that, and people will not want to give up the advantages you get with regards to awareness of your surroundings and other drivers, the improved sense of speed, or the ability to turn your head slightly to see the other end of that hairpin or chicane that every flat-screen racer has to effectively take blind.

    I have a contention about this statement, too: “…except now to see what’s happening to the left you have to remember to laboriously swivel your entire head, rather than twitch your mouse a bit.” Well, actually, turning my head 15 degrees to one side isn’t laborious, it’s one of the methods I’ve been using to look around IRL my whole life. It translates to the Rift world very nicely, and in fact beats the snot out of mouse-look for something like Elite or iRacing where you really need your hands on your HOTAS or wheel. Also, being able to look to your left when your iRacing spotter yells “car left” and see just *exactly* where that car is, is an incredible advantage, and one I’ll not give up.

    • w0bbl3r says:

      And VR will be as popular as those ridiculous and overpirced cockpit chairs.
      The reason he hasn’t tried it is the same reason 99% of other people will never try it; no matter how good it might be, it means spending a whole lot of money just for a single genre. How good will that cockpit chair do in a shooter? Or an RPG?
      Witcher 3 with a cockpit chair for when you are riding Roach? I don’t think so.
      What he says here about price is exactly the reason that very few people get these cockpit chairs.
      I have a wheel, I enjoy sim racers (but not the stupidly overpriced iracing, no matter how good it is). But I can’t justify spending all that money on my SYSTEM, let alone on a peripheral for it.
      Come on, get real.
      You think all this money spent on VR will be worth it for the tiny percentage of sim gamers out there only? That’s not very cost effective, is it? Most chairs like the one you describe are specialty items. OR is being pegged as a mainstream gaming device. It will never be that. And for the money poured into it, it’s not worth it as a specialty item. It will never make it’s money back

      • Blaaaaaaag says:

        “And VR will be as popular as those ridiculous and overpirced cockpit chairs.”

        Well, mine was $350 and replaced both a desk and a chair with something more comfortable and functional for a gaming setup, so not overpriced in my opinion. Much cheaper than an less ergonomic desk option. I suspect you’re also underestimating just how popular pre-fab cockpits are.

        “How good will that cockpit chair do in a shooter? Or an RPG?”

        Absolutely wonderfully, it’s the chair I game from. It happens to be on rails that can slide back and forth like an old manually adjustable car seat, and fixed to the same frame that holds my monitor, but it’s a comfortable chair in front of a screen. I don’t understand why you’d think it would falter at the task of “holding your ass in place in front of a screen”.

        “Witcher 3 with a cockpit chair for when you are riding Roach? I don’t think so.”

        Why not?

        “But I can’t justify spending all that money on my SYSTEM, let alone on a peripheral for it.”

        That’s just you, though. Nerds building cockpits in their houses is all the rage now, there’s a larger population of poeple doing it than you think, and most of them *have* spent ridiculous amounts of money to do it.

        “It will never make it’s money back”

        I might agree that Oculus/Facebook won’t make their money back, but all these new HMD manufacturers jumping in that don’t have to spend as much money to catch up? They might do okay. I’m not going to argue that VR will be in every gamers house in a year, but it’s not going to fizzle out like it did before.

        • gwathdring says:

          Er … I don’t think they’re underestimating how popular pre-fab cockpits are. That is a very, very, very niche market.

  36. Cockie says:

    We don’t have a 3D tv because it doesn’t work for us. We just see double after a minute or two :/

  37. wondermoth says:


    I’m bookmarking this one to store alongside all the articles that were written about how the Wii was going to be the death of Nintendo. (The reason why the Kinect wasn’t a roaring success? 100 million Wii sales, I’m guessing).

    • Continuity says:

      The reason the kinect didn’t take off is pretty simple. the xbox is a core gamer system. core gamers don’t care much for motion control. 1 + 1 = 2

      • angrysimon says:

        That and it makes you sweat.

      • wondermoth says:


        1+1=2, and gamers wittering on about how “core” they are = deeply embarrassing. You’ll be banging on about SJWs next.

        This may come as a surprise to you, but a lot of “casual” gamers own Xbox 360s. They sell them in shops, and believe it or not, they don’t make you pass an exam on obscure Capcom beat-em-ups before they deign to take your cash.

        • Continuity says:

          You could be less patronising and a lot less stereotyping considering you’re judging me on a few sentences. By “core” I was simply referring to the main player demographic i.e. “core” as in “core of the apple”, not “hardcore”. Also there are many interpretations and different understandings of terms like “casual” and “hardcore”, what you understand these things to mean may not match up at all with my understanding an usage.

          However the demographics are clear, and they are very different for wii and xbox. Wii has its largest demographics with pre-teen kids and women, these are not part of the usual or “core” demographic that the vast majority of xbox games are made for, which is reflected in the ownership demographic for xbox.
          For the record, I don’t own, and never have owned, any console.

          • P.Funk says:

            Stop using reasoned arguments and facts to ruin some perfectly good generalizations!

          • wondermoth says:

            “the xbox is a core gamer system. core gamers don’t care much for motion control.”

            “By “core” I was simply referring to the main player demographic i.e. “core” as in “core of the apple”, not “hardcore””

            2nd autocomplete suggestion for “core gamer”? “core gamer vs casual gamer”.

            Nothing you’re saying makes sense, and (ironically, given the response above), you’re trading in baseless generalisations. You talk about demographics, but I see no evidence of this supposed split. Every “core gamer” I know owns (or has owned) a Wii. Games are games, you know? And there are two types of gamers – people who play games, and people who try and define themselves by the games they play.

            I freely admit that I find the latter group unbelievably irritating. Apologies if I’m not concealing that very well.

  38. james___uk says:

    Thought I’d give another two cents to something I did forget to ponder on, the problem with peripherals…… So, you gotta have space for them and shell out the money for them, but the cyberith virtualiser for example is gonna cost 1500 euros (1700 down the line) who is gonna buy that?! It’s okay though, the Omni is much cheaper….at $699! The problem isn’t just that they’re too expensive, the problem is that some of these peripherals (these two especially) are gonna be ones you will want in your own VR setup (e.g. I was constantly wanting to grab things in VR with hand controllers), but that just makes VR too expensive!……

    • Hypocee says:

      A walking rig looks insane because it is, but I was pondering that about a year ago when I went into an athletic equipment store. There, I saw several treadmills – massive beasts three times the footprint of a walkbowl, with massive dashboards covered in LEDs – listed for over $1000. Presumably they sell them sometimes if they’re giving them floor space, and presumably they’re selling them to consumers because a gym isn’t going to walk into a department store looking for equipment. If I compare buying one of those monsters to being able to jog a different route through Los Santos or Skyrim every day, the purchase of a walking rig starts to look relatively sane. I’d never do it, but I can imagine a person who’d get their money’s worth out of it.

      • james___uk says:

        I thought about this too yeah, because now I’m self employed I’m sitting at a computer for a few hours a day on a lot of days and one of these could stop be having a heart attack, so if they market it with that in mind maybe I wouldn’t be the only person buying one if I did give in to it. Plus they work with any game off the bat which is nice

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          I have not checked for a while, but I believe the Vive’s Lighthouse and Chaperone system are designed to allow you to walk around your own room freely without bumping into stuff, and uses “room warping” to give the impression of more space. It does sound like its going to work better in massive American living rooms than tiny european shoeboxes, but nonetheless the capacity to actually move around in VR, without treadmills, is being worked on in at least one major consumer VR offering.

          • james___uk says:

            Yeah that’s gonna be pretty friggin good! Was most excited about that aspect of the vive, and not having to use a camera you can go out of view of

      • DodgyG33za says:

        Maybe it is the English thing of not enough space in your houses. As an ex-Londoner living in Australia, I have a treadmill and a home weights thingie gym set up in a dedicated room in the basement. There is plenty of space for a rift and omni if required. I also have a dedicated computer room.

        Most Australian houses would have room (and the climate) for a setup like this in either a spare room or a garage/shed. But then we still typically have 1/4 acre blocks outside of the high density city centres.

  39. Yglorba says:

    I think that it’ll be like videophones were for the longest time — technically feasible but not something anyone wants. And, like them, the point where it takes off will be when someone finds a way to cheaply and easily integrate it into an existing piece of popular technology (much like how Skype and cameras in cellphones made video calling a reality.)

    Selling people $200 headsets is not going to work. On the other hand, if wearable augmented-reality stuff like the Google Glass takes off for other reasons, I could see VR piggybacking on that.

  40. Continuity says:

    What you describe is certainly one possible course of events, its even the likely course of events… in the absence of a “killer app” an expensive peripheral what needs software to be designed around it, will fail.

    The interesting question here, is will there be a killer app? or will VR games be good enough that they constitute a killer app in themselves.

    Maybe VR computer games will become a wholly separate market, I can’t see games made for monitors being good VR games, as you say, you can’t “tack on” VR and expect it to be the same as made for VR from the start, there are fundamentally different design concepts. The only way this will take off though is if VR amounts to more than novelty.

    • wengart says:

      The obvious market is “in the seat sims” Flight, racing/driving, that train sim, armored combat, etc…

      Playing IL-2 or DCS with this would be a blast and so would Steel Beasts.

      With some amount of fiddling it could generally replace track IR.

      • Continuity says:

        Honestly i’m not sure about replacing track-IR in sim games, don’t under estimate the need to see your keyboard in games like DCS. But yeah the seated gaming experience doe seem like an obvious fit for seated VR. Personally i’m hoping for more “walking simulator” or adventure style games for VR.

  41. Mr.Radar says:

    The big difference between 3D TV and cinema and VR is that VR fundamentally reduces the level of abstraction between you and the game world whereas 3D is just a slight enhancement to the existing “screen” abstraction. The more layers of abstraction you remove (wide field of-view images, rotational head tracking, positional head tracking, positionally-tracked controllers, 3D spatialized/positional audio, full hand and finger tracking, etc.) the easier it is to achieve full immersion in a way the “screen” abstraction fundamentally can’t achieve.

    VR will never replace traditional screen-based gaming and I don’t think it will be productive to try to force all games to be VR games. It may end up that some genres will go almost exclusively VR in the future when we figure out what VR works for and what it does not the same way we don’t have serials and newsreels before films these days because television does the job for those genres much better.

  42. Kefren says:

    Tomorrow’s post will be
    Editorial: Why VR Is Going To Be A Huge Success.
    That’s John’s style.

  43. shutter says:

    I….I agree with John Walker about something. I’m not sure how to handle this. It throws a giant wrench into my ‘John Walker is always wrong’ operating theory.

    • Continuity says:

      Because you can never be wrong, therefore if you agree with John and John is always wrong.. paradox.

      That or a) you’re capable of being wrong, and b) John isn’t always wrong.

      If its any consolation I think you’re both wrong in this instance, but time will tell, no point arguing at this stage.

    • Jenks says:

      It’s much more likely that you are finally wrong than he is finally right.

  44. w0bbl3r says:

    Finally an HONEST article about VR.
    The thing I want to see when it finally launches, is the first news article where someone is so captivated by the awesome-ness that is OR or steamVR or whatever, that they have their big old clunky headset on, their headphones and the audio turned up, and a couple of junkies film themselves laughing at the goon as they empty his house while he sits there “ooh”-ing and “aaahh”-ing at a dinosaur that almost looks kind of there every now and then, and he can look around the world if he turns his head slowly enough that the camera can keep up and the headset doesn’t come flying off because he turned too fast.
    And then that video of his house being emptied around him goes viral, and everyone laughs, and junkies realise that every time they see someone leaving a store, or having an OR headset delivered or whatever, they know it’s open season on that guys home that night, and pretty soon we have a ton of these hilarious video’s on YT, of people slowly turning their heads with a big ugly headset on, while a couple of scruffy thugs laugh and point, and maybe even teabag the guy while carrying out his big wall-mounted tv, laughing all the way to the bank/dealer.

  45. Yargh says:

    There’s another reason that VR goggles are likely to end up being a very niche market and its the way they isolate you so completely from your environment. I suspect the VR makers severely underestimate how little people are going to like being so completely immersed on a regular basis.

    I can see a lot of significant others/family members disliking this enormously, enough so that I can only imagine the product being successful for people who either live alone or can afford a dedicated gaming room.

    • Xzi says:

      I think you underestimate how many people already game for escapism as-is. As well as how many games over the years have successfully marketed themselves as “immersive.” It doesn’t get much more immersive than new VR tech, and that will appeal to people more and more as the tech required to use VR hardware becomes less and less expensive.

      • Yglorba says:

        Kind of?

        I can’t speak for anyone else, but personally, I often enjoy engrossing myself in something while also in a nice environment — surrounded by friends or family, or sitting in the park or whatever. It’s part of the appeal of portable systems and laptops, to me.

        This is another reason why I feel that the success of VR ultimately depends on the success general-purpose wearable-computing like the Google Glass, which would turn the problems with the current stuff on their head — instead of VR being an expensive extra you have to get and then use for dedicated games at home, it would become something anyone with common everyday stuff can enjoy wherever. VR isn’t going to take off until digital glasses become commonplace.

  46. NotToBeLiked says:

    The issue is games. And just like the author can claim, based on absolutely no knowledge at all, that they won’t be made; I claim there will be 17 billion games available on the first day, all excellent.

  47. artrexdenthur says:

    Not a bad argument.

    But here’s my question to the hivemind: Is John Walker at all a fun (or even tolerable) person to be around? Evidence to the contrary include this article, as well as the following:

    Complaining about Valve having interesting news rather than releasing an imaginary game
    That interview with Molyneux

    Not that that’s exhaustive. Like seriously man, lighten up a bit! I always thought of RPS as a fun site, and it really still is… Except for you.

    • Yglorba says:

      The Molyneux interview was the greatest thing ever. We need more interviewers willing to get up in people’s faces about repeatedly making ridiculous statements like he does and fewer puff-pieces about how many polygons their game has.

      I mean, it was harsh, and you can’t help but feel for Molyneux when you read it. But it was something that was a long time in coming.

      • MichaelGC says:

        It was also very honest to publish (what appeared to be) an full unedited transcript: other interviewers would have been tempted to write up the interview in a way that tried to show themselves in the best possible light. Knowing how many would react, and putting up the whole transcript anyway, was rather brave.

      • thelastpointer says:

        That interview achieved nothing apart from offending Molyneux. Why is that the greatest thing?

        • harmlos says:

          The interview was great because instead of sucking up to Mr. Molyneux, Mr. Walker asked real questions and persisted until he got real answers. It was amazing because I couldn’t believe Mr. Molyneux didn’t just walk out in the middle of it. In short, it was real journalism we just don’t get to see all that often.

    • Farsi Murdle says:

      He needs to “lighten up” because he’s a rare voice of reason amongst the VR marketing crap?

    • John Walker says:

      Goodness me, you don’t seem very nice.

      • Shigawire says:

        Aye, the Molyneux interview was something I’ve been waiting for. I feel sad for the man, but sometimes you need a bucket of water to wake up and freshen up. Even in a field as dedicated to fun as games journalism is, a journalist is still a journalist, and sometimes hard questions must be asked. It doesn’t happen nearly enough.

        However, the premise of this particular article I do not share. Whenever a new technology is about to be released to the consumer, there will always be nay-sayers.

        In fact, in 10 years time I am pretty sure this article (and similar ones) will fall into a funny site like this one
        link to listverse.com

      • Fersken says:

        You can seem a bit aggressive sometimes. The (in)famous Molyneux interview made me both squirm in my seat and grin like an idiot. Though I believe you pushed a bit too far (just a tiny bit mind you), it was great. Even though I might disagree with some of your views and opinions, I usually enjoy your articles.

        Back on topic: I have my doubts VR will be the success some people believe, but even niches can thrive. Hell, PC gaming is a niche. But it probably has to mature a generation or two before VR start seeing serious sales, even if it’ll stay a niche. I agree it’s expensive, but it’ll get cheaper like everything else. “New” technology rarely is cheap. Though considering what VR has cost in the past, it’s the bargain of the decade.

        My biggest worry for the relative success of VR is interoperability. If games made to work with the Oculus Rift don’t work with any other VR hardware like the Vive, it would spell serious trouble.

        I hope this doesn’t turn into a flop. But with all the hype even a healthy niche might be considered a flop by some.
        But what do I know, my only experience with VR was 5 minutes in the 90s, and it was shit.

        • Fersken says:

          Tough it probably has no bearing on the success of VR, I would like to add it was already a tiny and very expensive niche well before Oculus Rift, though aimed at an entirely different market. Aerospace and automotive industries are using it for example. The development and use of VR between the 90s and now could be an interesting article.

  48. Phasma Felis says:

    I’m just amused that, after a couple of decades, “3D” is suddenly a huge selling point for games again–only now it means something completely different.

  49. Walkerz says:

    And what was the original use of Internet? Of cellphone? Can anyone predict what will happen of a given technology in 5, 10 years, after different fields took an interest on VR? I highly doubt that.

    Might fail in videogames, might suceed brillantly elsewhere.

    • Premium User Badge

      yhancik says:

      So what was the original purpose of the Internet?

      “we believe that we are entering a technological age in which we will be able to interact with the richness of living information—not merely in the passive way that we have become accustomed to using books and libraries, but as
      active participants in an ongoing process, bringing something to it through our interaction with it, and not simply receiving something from it by our connection to it.”

      “What will on-line interactive communities be like? In most fields they will consist of geographically separated members, sometimes grouped in small clusters and sometimes working individually. They 37 will be communities not of common location, but of common interest. In each field, the overall community of interest will be large enough to support a comprehensive system of field-oriented programs and data.”

      That’s JCR Licklider, in 1968. If he didn’t work directly on Arpanet, he had a huge influence on those who did ;)

    • P.Funk says:

      I want to know what the purpose of your argument is. You’re effectively arguing that OpEds are futile because human beings have no latent ability to see into the future.

      In other words you’re arguing against the very notion of arguing about the future.

      • Asurmen says:

        Well, based on that I’m not sure what the purpose of John’s argument is.

        • P.Funk says:

          Well it isn’t my argument and I don’t accept it. Wouldn’t make for much of a town hall meeting if everyone poo poo’d anyone saying “I dunno if that’s gonna work” because he can’t see the future.

          Its effectively a tyranny of optimism. Anything you say first that is agreeable and good can’t be shat upon by cynicism.

          Oh great village that.

    • trjp says:

      VR has been around for 20 years, the reason it’s not taken-off is because it makes people sick, people hate wearing helmets and goggles and not being able to see the ‘real world’ and the 3D effect doesn’t even work for a great many folks.

      If you come-up with a system whereby people get guaranteed authentic 3D shit overlaid on their vision and which doesn’t need an ugly, uncomfortable, dumb looking helmet on your head – you MIGHT get somewhere, but I’ve been saying since everyone got titilated by OR that it’s a dead-end/waste of time as it stands.

      Mind you – some people will make a few quid from the early adopters/sim players and other suckers – but most people aren’t going to want it.

      p.s. Facebook didn’t buy OR for the tech or the potential sales – they bought it because they want to become a tech company with lots of stuff in their portfolio – they want people’s interest – they want something to distract the lazy gamblers who fund their business…

  50. PikaBot says:

    I’m worried that you might be right; worried not because I have any personal investment in VR but because my best friend has spent the past year or so exhausting his savings to work on a really damn good VR game, and I’m nervous nobody will be there to buy it.

    • Premium User Badge

      yhancik says:

      Those VR/RR (real reality?) collaborations make for good VR games, I think especially because the VR player is put in another world, unable to see anything else than the screen glued to her/his face ;)

      But that’s an idea that can still work on a good old flat screen, so he has nothing to worry about