My Experience Of HTC Vive VR

I need to put a huge proviso on this piece. I have readily forecast that VR will be an eventual flop for years, as I did here. My argument is, succinctly, that it will not get a broad enough userbase for major publishers to recoup the hundreds of millions they’d need to spend on triple-A games, so will remain a novelty for relatively well-off tech enthusiasts. I stand by that argument.

I am also a relatively well-off tech enthusiast. I’m excited to play with VR ideas, and see what it can do for gaming. My suspicions are: “not very much”, but I’m interested to see the process, really hoping to be surprised. Valve sent us a few HTC Vive Pres, the pre-release version of the technology, and I’ve been trying to get one to work for a while now. I now look at it with a burning hatred, having suffered for so long trying to set it up. Here’s why:

The Vive isn’t going to be a huge success for so many reasons, from the tech being nowhere near good enough yet, to the ridiculous notion of walking around a room wearing a headset with a massive cable tying you to the PC. But most of all the astonishing price. I didn’t even pay for it and my bank balance got anxiety. It will sell enough units for them to boast of running out, enough to declare early success, but nowhere near enough for Ubisoft to make their next Assassin’s Creed VR only. Not even close. And of course that’s what it needs to be to really have a significant impact on the market.

At launch, despite a ludicrous 61 VR games suddenly appearing unfiltered on Steam in an overwhelming pile of early access half-ideas, there is no major unit-selling game available. Even Valve have only knocked together a mini-game collection – just think about that. Think about how extraordinary it is to launch their purportedly world-changing room-scale VR unit, and not even themselves make a game for it. I find that incredible. But having struggled with this thing for so long, I’m really not surprised.

Alec has written a proper grown-up guide to the HTC Vive, exploring in-depth various aspects and issues, with more professionalism than I could even begin to muster. My response here is a purely personal, emotional one. I have roared in rage this morning so much that my throat hurts. And that was just trying to get the fucking base units to stay still.

Setting up a Vive is no mean feat. The box comes with about two hundred and seventy further boxes inside, miles of wires, and more cable ties than I’ve ever seen in one place. It becomes almost immediately apparent that unless you live in an opulent mansion, getting this set up is going to be a massive bodge. The idea is you place two base units (some say “lighthouses”) at opposite corners of your spare ballroom, in a high enough position such that they can see each other, and scan every square foot of the room from floor to ceiling. No games journalist has a room like this, unless they work for Polygon, because people tend to put things in their rooms like furniture. And very little furniture lies flush to the wall, unless it’s painted on.

I have a room that is, even accounting for Valve’s massive – er… I’m not allowed to write “lie” – understatement that you need only a space the size of two yoga mats, big enough for the minimum floor space. Barely. Like, by a centimetre. But despite that, it remains impossible for me to put the base units in any position that can actually see that space. I even have bookshelves in opposite corners, but placing one base unit on each has proven to be the most aneurysm-inducing misery of my recent times.

Shelves stick out, you see, and for it to see floor to ceiling, the unit too needs to protrude further. After rigging ridiculous set-ups of balanced boxes to place the units at the right angles, they were both sticking out too far for them to see the controllers at the extremes of the room – so the space shrunk and isn’t big enough. Attempts to drill into walls and ceilings proved futile as the brackets supplied need two-inch holes. I re-jigged my jerry-rigs, managed to get them into positions set far back enough to see what they need to see, and… then the screaming began.

One rotated until it was facing the wall, the other leapt from its solid base and fell to the floor. Why? Because someone at HTC decided the best idea in the world was to make the base units as light as possible, but supply the most astoundingly heavy mains cables for each. Because they have to be high up, I had a couple of metres of this thick wire pulling on them, meaning they slowly, perhaps even at first imperceptibly, started moving themselves out of position.

Even hooking the wires around things didn’t help me – just a few inches of this elephantine cable was enough to move the marshmallow-light box. Sticking them with sticky things failed me. And worst, even when I’d managed to do something close to useful, those arsehole base units vibrate. Just a tiny bit, but enough. And the vibration changes depending upon whether it has signal or not, ensuring that they gradually wobbled themselves loose. Oh, and the one with the loose something-or-other inside it occasionally steps up from vibrating to RATTLING. My favourite bit. I know many have managed to get the units in good places and have them work. I have not. I won’t be alone.

Then comes the room set-up. My PC desk isn’t within the square of floor area in which I intend to play these VR games because THEN IT WOULD BE IN THE FLOOR SPACE. So every time I go to the PC to do anything, the software starts screaming that it’s lost sight of the headset and controllers, things start panicking, the VR view goes to a blank blue just in case it weren’t already stupid enough, and then it all calms back down when I step back. That’s some smart design right there.

Anyway, I have that panic while I click to run the room set up, which amazingly requires repeatedly moving back and forth from your PC to the empty space. Stand in the middle of the room and fire a controller at your monitor. Use the mouse to click next. Put the controllers on the floor, click next. Then it’s time to trace the outer limits of your play area. And oh my God, I have only swears at this point. Here is my truthful response to doing that:

“Fuck this shitty piece of fucking shite.”

Here’s a more eloquent translation: Despite being able to see on the display on the monitor that it can see the controller, can see me waggling it about, the moment I hold down the trigger to start tracing the edge it decides it’s gone invisible. Let go, waggle, it’s there. Hold trigger, it’s vanished. Start a little farther into the room, less eventual floor-space, and start tracing, and then despite being fully in view of both units it loses tracking halfway along the first edge. About 28 times in a row. By the time I’d managed to draw all four sides of the space, without its entirely randomly drawing massive triangular indentations into the space that it, for reasons only it can know, chose to imagine, an hour had gone by. But at least I could play.

Except of course not. If I stand between the two base units at any time, the whole thing pulls the emergency lever and switches itself to blank. It’s unbearable, and extremely (literally) nauseous. I’m nearly 6 foot tall, my shelves are maybe seven feet tall. With the units pointing downward to see anything, I’m going to walk between them. I don’t have a choice. My high-ceilinged 400-seater dining room is busy being polished today, so I’m restricted to a regular human room in a regular human house. When I finally get The Lab booted, the in-game representations of my controllers keep vanishing. I’ve no idea why. And the space I’m playing in is so tiny that the holodeck warning meshes that appear when I’m about to headbutt a wall are ever-present because either side is so close.

Then one of the in-game controllers keeps jumping up above my head. I waggle it, and it rejoins me in my hand. Then jumps up above my head. Again and again. I’m trying to throw a stick for a robot dog, while teleporting between the designated standing places in this mountain vista, like some FMV rush-job of the early 90s, and reality keeps jiggling around me. The virtual floor slides slightly, and I nearly fall over. Then the world starts stammering, and I feel sick. I stand still, move myself out from between the two lighthouses, and for a brief moment get a clear, steady view. I pick up the stick, throw it, and I see nothing but an empty white room. Removing the headset, my monitor tells me the game has crashed. And I’m done with VR for today. (And as usual, my computer’s sound and video are borked and I have to reboot to have anything work again.)

Previous attempts have had me wow at theBlu’s demo, the blue whale being truly majestic. The Vive is clearly capable of offering those moments, but for me they’re just moments. Shortly after in the same demo the shipwreck grotesquely slid around me and I was dizzy. I want to laugh and enjoy Job Simulator, but the glitches and the way even with the warnings I kept whacking my hands into the wall make it an ordeal. I have had such a miserable time, despite being genuinely excited to play with this new toy.

The cable from the headset is like a joke. My wife, on having a go (she was very impressed), laughed when she saw the cable. Then tripped over it multiple times when she couldn’t hear my warnings for having headphones in. It’s an inch wide, so heavy. I know VR can’t yet remove the lag with wireless headsets, but if this is the best we can do, it’s really not worth trying. Cords like this are going to be as laughable as early ’90s brick-sized mobile phones. And despite all this heavy-duty work, the results aren’t so great. The images are grainy, the refresh rate just isn’t fast enough even at 90fps, and the equipment too cumbersome.

I think most of all, room-scale VR makes games more difficult to play. The number of restrictions it puts on doing what we currently take for granted massively out-weigh the novelty of being surrounded by the game’s world, of physically moving within it. Both those things are so damned cool, and were I to have a mansion large enough and walls thick enough to have it comfortably set up, I would delight in the fun that briefly offered.

There’s something uniquely amazing about physically reaching your hand out to touch something in a game. But then I remember how much I enjoy being able to run freely around a game’s world without having to teleport or feel like I’m in a falling lift. How rarely I think to myself, “I AM STARING AT A FLAT MONITOR SCREEN” when I’m enjoying a game. How pleasant it is not to walk into furniture or trip over wires when playing a video game. And, perhaps most significantly, how much I enjoy playing games that last more than twenty minutes.

Room-scale VR’s time will come. In a couple of decades, when we’re all old, old people, it will be a pair of glasses with no wires and it will be bloody amazing. But today it’s still really the parody of the late ’80s giant headsets, only marginally less giant. As for the Vive itself – well, for those who live in vast palaces there’s potential for brief entertainment, but I can’t see any realistic prospect of long-term durability. I’d love to be wrong, though.


  1. Premium User Badge

    reality3ites says:

    “…the other leapt from its solid base and fell to the floor” may have gone on to setup this entire article? Maybe it’s broken? Might explain the rattle.

    • John Walker says:

      Nope – it was misbehaving before the fall just the same. In fact, it was the *other* one that was bricked by the most recent firmware update, requiring all sorts of fuss to fix.

      • Premium User Badge

        Jearil says:

        About the lighthouse things I have to ask, did the idea of duct tape ever cross your mind? Because it sounds like a lot of that could have been solved with the universal binding solution of duct tape.

        • frightlever says:

          Real men use duct tape, they don’t lie in a heap on the floor, cocooned in confusing cables, while gently sobbing.

        • Plank says:

          If I were to receive a Vive off of Valve for promotional purposes then Valve would have to fuck the fuck off if they think I’m going to stick fucking duct tape onto my bookshelves because the base units are too bloody light.

  2. Amatyr says:

    So it’s an 8/10 then?

    • SomeDuder says:

      Also, we didn’t get his opinion on how this will improve the lives of women in gaming.

  3. Tiax says:

    Well, fucking glad I didn’t preordered.

  4. BluePencil says:

    Heh, like almost anyone I’d be keen to try out VR given a free go in good conditions. I can tell from this article that I have no chance in my room. I mean, it’s pretty difficult for me to negotiate all the furniture and piles of books in daylight with no hindrances as it is. There’s absolutely no way I could set up sensors in here without ditching pretty much all my possessions.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Yeah, it’s basically targeted at the same audience that builds dedicated listening rooms for LPs and gaming cabinets for flight simulators.

      Assuming those people have a house in the suburbs with space to spare, and not an apartment in a major city.

  5. Novotny says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever read John swearing so much.

    • John Walker says:

      You should have heard the awfulness that came out of my mouth at the time. My neighbours sure did.

      • TristanCM says:

        Hey John, thanks for the article. Such a shame, considering the prospect of gripping VR. Would you consider selling me your headset? Would love to give it a go none the less! Thanks.

  6. K33L3R says:

    Ouch, but logical complaints
    Don’t care much for VR, little about it attracts me. I do hope the problems get ironed out for those that do though, it is cool toy

    • Unclepauly says:

      I’ve not met a single PC gamer who doesn’t like the idea of VR. Who doesn’t want more immersion? Maybe you don’t like the execution?

      • kororas says:

        You clearly have not met me then.

      • gwathdring says:

        I have played some games for hundreds of hours. I have, on occasion given enough free time, played single sessions the length of a work day (with breaks of course).

        I really don’t need to strap a brick to my face to be “immersed.” On the one hand, I’m immersed just fine already. On the other hand, VR isn’t going to fix the fundamental gamey-ness of playing games that don’t immerse me unless we go full on matrix with this stuff which would be unfortunate in the case of games I play where I am not capable of and/or interested in physically experiencing what happens on screen.

        VR could be lovely; I haven’t tried it. But the idea that I need it for immersion is bizarre. I’ve spent large portions of my life immersed in little bits of text printed on a bunch of glued-together paper. 360 degree vision and the inability to literally feel what’s happening in a game or literally move along with the game is not a barrier to immersion for me whatsoever. That doesn’t mean it can’t add something awesome to the experience, just that immersion isn’t it.

  7. Talon says:


    1) It requires set up
    2) It’s expensive
    3) It requires a room

    Okay? You knew this going in, didn’t you? I’m not sure what the point of this article is…that those are hard things for regular people to have? Sure, but it’s an $800 device. Your everyday teenager is not going to rock out to this. Your tech enthusiast should probably know better.

    • X_kot says:

      All three of your points also apply to consoles and computers; John is pointing out how much more this new device requires. It’s useful to note that, moreso than standard PCs, VR tech right now is strictly the domain of the upper-middle and wealthy classes, despite the marketing fervor of Facebook and Valve.

      • Tetrode says:

        “VR tech right now is strictly the domain of the upper-middle and wealthy classes, despite the marketing fervor of Facebook and Valve.”

        Ahaha what the fuck? Something costs £750 so naturally hmmm yes only the most wealthy of society can afford it. I earn less than the national average but was able to afford a vive because it’s not actually hard to budget for things that you’d like to purchase. Would you say a second hand car would be ‘strictly the domain of the upper-middle and wealthy classes’ when it costs £800? Of course fucking not.

        • X_kot says:

          For one, I wouldn’t compare a car (a means of transportation and often a way of getting to work) to an electronic entertainment device. Vehicles are investments, and many people have to secure loans to purchase them. Sure, you can budget to buy stuff, but it’s a matter of priorities, right? I question whether enough consumers beyond the techophiles will see enough value in the Vive to bother saving up for it.

        • Sam says:

          As you say, with budgeting it’s achievable at least by most people who already have the income for gaming. What’s far harder to reach (especially in Britain) is the space requirement. Houses are small and expensive. Those who can afford a “den” like what may be found in suburban US homes are extremely few, and are busy nervously watching the Panama Papers coverage.

          Both John and Alec have written of their difficulties in finding space and setting up the system to work with it. I think they both live in a town, but homes don’t actually get that much more spacious in the suburbs.

          • Mogglewump says:

            Indeed, having just done a quick bit of calculation the minimum square footage for the Vive costs 10500 where I live in Cambridge – that’s quite the investment.

            I’d be interested in hearing what the Vive seated vs Rift seated experience is since a 4 hr gaming session would be knackering to stand for that long.

          • Badelhas says:

            “What’s far harder to reach (especially in Britain) is the space requirement. Houses are small and expensive”

            I thought everyone lived like the characters from Downtown Abbey

        • w0bbl3r says:

          Seriously people are so determined to love the next new gadget they refuse to admit that it’s just not all it’s cracked up to be and won’t be nearly ready for regular use for a long time.

          It’s expensive because £750 is a lot of money for something that is a gimmick you will rarely be able to use, since you don’t have a large enough room, you don’t have hours and hours to set it all up every time you want to “play” the next 20 minute demo of a game, and spent your last spare £750 on something actually important, like the PC you use for gaming.
          My PC didn’t cost £750, I could never justify saving up the money (yes, saving up, because I’m not higher-middle or upper class, I don’t have money on tap) for something that would not work in my tiny 2-bed terraced house (that anyone above lower-middle class wouldn’t be seen dead in, because it’s so working class)>

          Get a grip, and come back to reality.

        • Snargelfargen says:

          You also need to afford an extra room. Just like a luxury car requires a garage and frequent, expensive maintenance.

    • klo3 says:

      As a tech enthusiast I read articles like these to make a better informed, marketing or hype free purchase (or non purchase) decision.

    • BluePencil says:

      Condensing the greater portion of John’s experience to “it requires set up” is like describing the myriad victims of the Saw movies as “having a rough time lately.”

      • Neurotic says:

        Can I just say, that your Saw victims analogy has had me red-faced and laughing for a good ten minutes now. Absolute gold mate, absolute gold!

      • w0bbl3r says:

        Yeah, “someone played a bit of a nasty prank on some people”.
        But people are so flat out determined to love the newest gadget that they refuse to accept any valid criticism of it.
        Like those people who buy call of doody every year and demand that it’s awesome even as they hate it, because they just can’t admit they were stupid enough to spend their money on it again.

    • John Walker says:

      1) So did my PC, but I didn’t scream at it.
      2) I raise this to explain why I don’t believe it will be a success, and then move on to my personal experience – weird you missed that.
      3) Yes, but stick with me on this one: a much bigger room than was suggested.

      • BobbyDylan says:

        “It’s a normal human room in a normal human house…”

        Um… no. Correct me if I’m wrong here, It’s a normal English sized room in a normal English sized house. So, tiny for anyone who didn’t grow up in the UK.

        • Coming Second says:

          Unless you grew up in, let’s say, nine tenths of the rest of the world.

    • aepervius says:

      All your point are invalid for me (i have room, money, and set up does not scare me as I have my own mini linux cluster at home). But seeing the experience the cable , and the other fiddly problem, I think you underestimate the flimsyness of the resulting technological gizmo.

    • Geewhizbatman says:

      Ya I would say the real and only complaint that goes beyond the personal is that it isn’t as advertised. But that is still good enough to push the equipment from “annoying” to “not worth it yet.” Even computers can be annoying. But we as a society adjust for them. The marketing for the Vive is that you don’t have to make a “Computer” or “Virtual Reality” space. To use the computer comparison–it is true you need to clear a desk–but not an entire room. Computers also weren’t exactly fun or popular when they needed half a room, a week of set up, and still barely rumbled along. They weren’t the “fresh, hip, fun and time saving” thing then and if the Vive is that still, then it isn’t ready for the market and claiming it is when it is not is gross but also bad for seeing the tech gain the traction it needs to grow.

      The dream here isn’t really virtual reality, even if that is neat, it is accessible virtual reality. What the Vive is selling is saying you too, perhaps slightly more wealthy but otherwise not Blade Runner CEO person, can experience the magic of virtual reality in your home*. For the reality to be “*In your Vive tech approved living quarters” is frustrating. It also highlights the cash grab element to it all.

      I think John’s connecting the bulky wires to the giant blocky cell phones of the 90s is the winning argument of the piece and explains why even knowing all those reasonable things couldn’t make up for the let down. I have a cellphone, but only once they started being good at what they advertised (being able to call people easily without a land line.) Before that? Do I want to bring a phone booth in the car with me? No, no I do not. Wealthy eccentrics should do that and I’ll wait for the pocket version or just find somehow to survive without it. No one is arguing that the Vive is a successful VR machine. They are however saying that this one is a failure by trying to state it isn’t a clunky headache machine as well. I had that experience in a mall, a midwestern state fair, and disney world of all places, when I put ten pounds of monitors on my face and held a piece of plastic attached to it. Each just as exciting a possibility and a nightmare of a reality. If the review was, “It was a breeze to set up, everything performed within reason of expectation, but it just didn’t blow my mind” then sure–this level of frustration with disappointment over a new piece of tech would be unsettling and unreasonable. But this was, “It was a slog and ended in lukewarm Spam” and I can understand being less than pleased with an investment into that situation.

  8. Ejia says:

    So, a perfect device on which to play Myst, then?

    • Cinek says:

      Not really. In Myst you walk over vast surfaces – when in Vive you have a room-sized rectangle, or it allows you to teleport from location to location and explore world from fixed points – in which case it’d be better off seated on an office chair. That’s obviously aside from the point that none of the Myst games has an official VR support (Obduction will have an Oculus Rift support, they built the game from ground-up with Oculus in mind, but they also got Vive, though no official word on vive support just yet)

      • Otterley says:

        I’m just going to pretend that was deadpan humor.

        • Willium_Bob_Cole says:

          Yknow, I don’t think that was deadpan humour. I think he is thinking of RealMyst, which indeed did have you walking around, they remade the whole environment in 3D. But the original games had pre rendered ‘spots’ to travel to. It’s not a huge leap to combine the two so that you can look around in 3D VR, whilst teleporting to the hotspots of all the original games. Physically interacting with the puzzles would also be great. And I never got to complete riven (let alone any that came after) because it just refuses to run properly on modern systems (in my experience). So I would LOVE if they took the time to remake the myst series like RealMyst, and VR support would be a bonus but not a requirement since I can’t afford that shit for a looooong time

      • Ooops says:

        I think Ejia was just joking with the notorious fact that John hates Myst with a passion :-)

        • Ragnar says:

          The original Myst had you looking out at the world from set points, teleporting from point to point, and minimal interaction with the world as you solved puzzles

          It was clearly designed for VR all along. The devs could either see into the future, or were time traveling wizards. My money’s on the wizards.

  9. Xzi says:

    “It will sell enough units for them to boast of running out, enough to declare early success, but nowhere near enough for Ubisoft to make their next Assassin’s Creed VR only. Not even close. And of course that’s what it needs to be to really have a significant impact on the market.”

    That’s a ridiculous claim and a really bad way to start off what seems to be an article about a 102-year-old man complaining about color TV.

    • John Walker says:

      It’s a wise 38 year old man remembering 3DTV.

      But when saying an argument’s bad, it’s somewhat more useful to others to proffer a counterpoint, rather than just be rude.

      • Xzi says:

        All it needs to have a significant impact on the market is maybe half of all developed games considering adding VR support. Probably more like a quarter. As a matter of fact, the whole thing is kinda framed wrong from the beginning. The best VR games will be those built from the ground-up as VR games, not Assassin’s Creed hamfisting VR support in as an afterthought.

        • Premium User Badge

          FhnuZoag says:

          Uh, didn’t you just contradict yourself? The point about Assassin’s Creed being VR only is about the need for major games being developed from the ground up as VR experiences. A situation where a minority of games add optional VR modes is exactly a recipe for devs “hamfisting VR support in as an afterthought”, and so being unlikely to produce good VR games that drive user adoption.

          • Xzi says:

            I did. My brain went, “hey, wait” like halfway through typing out the comment.

          • Archonsod says:

            The problem is it’s going to be circular – without a large market you’re not likely to see major publishers willing to risk investing in games for VR, without major releases on VR you’re not going to attract the market. Even kludging in VR support after the fact is unlikely unless there’s enough take up that the publishers think they can recoup any additional development costs.
            I suspect that a lot of the sales so far will have been based on pre-order and the sense of novelty. Unless they can get something that’s more than shovelware or tech demos to actually sustain interest there’s a good chance it’ll go the same way the last attempt to popularise VR did – an interesting curio largely forgotten and ignored by most of the industry once the novelty wears off.

          • Xzi says:

            VR is already well beyond gaming, alone, though. Porn, sports, live events, education, virtual travel, and more are all going to be a part of this thing. I think even if VR remains an indie space more than AAA for gaming, it’ll do just fine.

      • w0bbl3r says:

        I think you’re wasting your time.
        People who are determined that this latest new gadget is great (as they will do with all the latest gadgets for at least a few weeks, until they just stop using it if it’s actually rubbish) will not accept any criticism of it, and no amount of clarifying that criticism will make them see the points you are trying to make.

        I can’t wait for VR to come along that is going to change gaming. This isn’t it. Neither is OR in my opinion.
        Both are still too “gimmicky”.
        Another 5-10 years is needed I reckon, and then we will be somewhere near a working VR setup that is available to everyone and good enough to work it’s way into the mainstream gaming world before it dies off.

      • Reapy says:

        What person thought 3d tv would be any good? A reasonable person could take a look at it say, wow, 3d movies can be cool (see avatar imax experience (minus shitty movie ;) ), but the glasses and tech for it aren’t going to work.

        VR is another boat all together. People are excited about it because when you put a VR headset on it is fucking cool. It is the same rush I got the first time I heard my soundblaster bark out its first non pc speaker sound effect, the same time I saw “vga”.

        I haven’t felt that way in years.

        Yeah, its early. Yeah, it won’t be mainstream like a smart phone. But damn, I bet in a few years most pc gamers will have one or consider having one, especially if they get the price to drop.

        Would have been nice to include some pictures of the set up. Also, yeah, who would buy a vive when they don’t have a room for ‘room scale’ vr? What is wrong with seated oculus?

        • BobbyDylan says:

          Yeah, 3D TV is Iterative of 2D TV, and 2D Tv is fine (and arguably better for some).

          VR is as different from TV as TV is from literature.

      • Sarracenae says:

        It’s a bit like that thing the xbox once had, you know the er what was it called. Oh the Kinect, that developers eventually dropped and forced Microsoft to try and forget.

        I agree with you 100% about VR, and said the same thing about 3DTV too.

        In order for VR to work, except in games like simulators (car/flying) VR will need the entire interface to be designed for VR from the ground up or it will be a poor experience, and that’s not going to happen unless there is a user base of millions of units. So unless valve decides to surprise everyone with a VR only halflife 3 or portal 3 then i just can’t see how the units get traction.

      • Herring says:

        link to

        “The truth is, I’ve never in my life had this kind of experience, and I mean that.”

        Also, there’s one of the ARS guys posting on Reddit about his experiences with VR / Vive over the last year;

        link to

        In response to the question, “is a game changer like the Voodoo 1?”

        “There’s part of me that says “hell yes,” and part of me that says “uh this thing requires over $1,400 in gizmos, a giant clutter-free room, and a mess of cables.” But, I mean, it works. I don’t get sick. I get to use thrilling new types of games and apps. I keep coming back to it. It’s way too clunky and cumbersome, but it’s just good enough to make people gravitate toward it. That’s exactly how video games began, right? With scientists crowding around inconvenient, overpriced machines to play rudimentary games?”

        That last is how I feel it’s going to be. Just the early stages of a revolution but it’s not going to stop me playing 2D games as well.

    • grimdanfango says:

      I would argue that being subsumed by the creaking AAA machine is the *last* thing VR needs to be successful. VR will take off once the majority of developers reckognise that they can’t just hack established video game mechanics and tropes into VR, and that it actually requires some new ideas.
      As with any new frontier in games, those ideas will come from the indies, and only once they’re established will the EAs and Ubisofts jump onboard.
      VR could very well be the setting for the next indie revolution… and well, the previous one pretty much convinced me to give up on stale AAA games entirely, there being a 200+ long list of genuinely interesting and fresh indie games constantly building up in my Steam library, a fraction of which I haven’t even found time to play yet!

      The longer the big publishers stay clear of VR, the better. VR needs innovation, not monetization.

      • SuddenSight says:

        The point about market share isn’t so much about innovation, but revenue. I remember hearing a quote from people working for IBM – if the expected revenue is less than a billion IBM doesn’t care. ROI doesn’t matter, they don’t invest in small projects.

        A similar rule carries for AAA developers – they are dealing with 100s of millions in capital or more. If there are only ~1 million VR adopters, they won’t recoup an investment even with 100% market saturation.

        “Indies” could try to carry the medium (and are the primary hope for VR-exclusives right now) but big publishers won’t even pay attention until the units sold are in the 10s of millions *at least*.

        Note: I tried to find the actual number of Vives sold (hard to find right now of course) but estimates seem to range from 100k to ~2 million. If the pace keeps up they could reach the desired numbers, but that depends on the adoption buzz staying high.

    • Robin says:

      Yes, this assumption that VR NEEDS $100m megablockbusters as a baseline for success is an odd one. It needs games/apps that fit the form factor. The vast majority of successful games on Steam/PSN etc. right now have modest budgets. Mobile game budgets top out way below that. An awful lot of VR stuff seems to be based on small environments and/or abstract representation, so I get the feeling this assumption that every game has to be the holodeck is a bit like CD-ROM made everyone assume games companies had to be movie studios now.

      • gwathdring says:

        As Suddensight pointed out elsewhere in this reply thread,but a different sub-chain … consider this.

        For VR to be part of AAA gaming, it needs to be worth the extra effort of inclusion. For it to be worth the extra effort of inclusion, it needs to represent a large enough customer base that companies that work in the millions of copies realm of gaming think they can add a significant number of VR customers to that who wouldn’t have bought the game otherwise.

        The indie VR scene and the non-gaming VR scene are going to be great for people who already buy in to VR. But those development sectors can scale with the VR ecyosystem. For VR to be very successful, it needs to become something that people who didn’t know they wanted VR that much will drop a lot of money on and continue to drop a lot of money on. It needs to be a product that finds customers not just a product customers find–which is what it currently is.

        For it to have a huge impact on gaming as a whole rather than just of the sub-niche of VR specific games, it’s going to need AAA support. It’s going to need killer apps. It’s going to need to convince everyone–customers and investors and outsiders alike–that it is more than a sub-niche luxury.

  10. Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

    It’s nice to hear an actually honest review of what it’s like to own and use one of these things. I’ve heard enough about how cool it is to stand in job simulator and make toast or whatever, I wanted to k ow what having one in a room would be like. Thanks for this John.

    PS for chrissakes buy some red wall plugs man.

  11. MrFinnishDude says:

    Man, it’s like were back in the Playstation 1 days. The only way is up.

  12. Steed says:

    That was fantastic and had me cracking up from start to finish. The lighthouse gently wobbling itself off the shelf, wild remote behaviour and the whole world suddenly tilting formed perfectly in my minds eye.

    Still very excited for mine, due Monday, but you do raise a couple of real concerns. Short games is one, space the other.

    Realistic size of my play space means one or two steps in any direction but left will see me punching – my computer/monitors, the bookshelf or a selection of brewing equipment, mostly glass.

    • w0bbl3r says:

      How many punches of your PC will it take before it gets knocked off the desk? That will be fun, right?
      Same with the monitor.
      And how much time do you have to have to keep clearing up books you have knocked off the shelf every time you use the headset?

      But what I REALLY can’t wait for is the first person who does a twitch stream and the viewers get to watch the burglars emptying the house behind the fool staggering around his room completely oblivious to the world around him, while they laugh and take video’s of themselves taking his stuff right past his flailing and wobbling body as he makes himself feel nauseous in the next 20 minute demo of a game.

      • Mctittles says:

        I’ve heard the burglar thing about VR enough times to make me really wonder where people are coming up with that. Is it just humans nature to be fearful and come up with wild ideas to justify that fear?

        Think of the scenario for a second. Burglar sitting outside someones house monitoring them 24/7 before they rob the place. Damn! They left the house..guess I’ll have to wait until they come back. Damn! They went to sleep..more waiting. Alright! They put on the VR headset, now is the perfect time to rob!

  13. ballbarn says:

    I’m sure it’s a chore to set up, but this is an early adopter item and a piece of PC hardware. An $800 piece of early adopter hardware. It’s a given to anyone in their 30s with years of gaming that this thing isn’t going to be quite there yet.

    Between this and your Hyper Light Drifter article your reviews look like they’re saying more about you being bad at computers than the thing you’re reviewing. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like this piece would benefit from you adding some pictures of the room you’re in and how you have it set up, and also perhaps getting it working before writing the piece.

    • Skabooga says:

      Any person like John Walker who has been playing computer games for a couple decades, let alone as part of his profession, can be assumed to have a certain level of technical expertise. If even he is having a hard time getting it to work, I find that very informative, especially considering that I probably have less knowledge about this sort of stuff than he does. Not that I could afford a Vive.

      • Synesthesia says:

        The dirty secret of games journalism, is that games journalists suck at games. Mostly.

        • John Walker says:

          You realise that’s a mad a thing to say as “You suck at books”, right?

          • onionman says:

            Except Hyper Light Drifter isn’t actually all that hard, which in combination with your stated preference for walking simulators etc. would seem to be prima facie evidence that you do in fact suck at games.

          • Person of Interest says:

            “I suck at books” is the most apt description I’ve heard regarding my dysfunctional relationship with bound bits of paper.

            @onionman I think the world collectively let out a small, dejected fart when you posted that.

          • Javerlin says:

            Exept Hyperlight Drifter right?

          • April March says:

            Eh, it’s true. I’ve found most game journalists/essayists/wordsmiths I like end up admitting they suck at games sooner or later. I believe that someone who is good at games just plays, while someone who isn’t good at games but still likes to play them is forced to think about them, which leads them to write about them, quite cruelly.

            But, to the point being made, being bad at playing game does not equal to being bad at setting up game tech. Anyone who’s been on the gamin’ business as long as John have would have quite the tech expertise even if it was just through osmosis, and that’s the relevant bit here.

          • batraz says:

            There’s no being good nor bad at games, except for those poor korean chaps sentenced for a life of league of legends… There is enjoying them or not. I think some guys here mistake their customer practices for artistic or competitive activities. But hey, people need to take pride on something. Here, though, the point is not player’skill, it’s hardware, and the information is : “not ready yet”.

          • Tekrunner says:

            @onionman: why do I have a feeling that JW would most likely kick your butt at puzzle and adventure games? Do they not count as video games anymore?

          • Synesthesia says:

            Point taken about the technical bit.

            Still, I stand by what I said! I thought it was clear enough, but of course I didn’t mean the ENTIRETY of games. John has already stated he loves adventure and puzzle games, which is perfectly fine. I love them too. Still, games journos being bad at games (competitive games, sigh) i’ve heard quite a few times.

        • gwathdring says:

          It’s a dirty little secret of gaming that the ability to 360-no-scope has nothing to do with troubleshooting technology.

        • Ragnar says:

          You may be shocked to learn, as I have, that war correspondents suck at war.

          Seriously, though, what is that supposed to mean? That game journalists don’t compete professionally, or post YouTube videos of naked Dark Souls playthroughs?

          Well I certainly hope not, as neither do I. Hell, I very rarely play anything on hard, and I even played FTL on easy. And I’m much better at challenging games than my wife or daughter. If game journalists were all pro gamers, they’d be completely out of touch with the average gamer.

  14. Andrew says:

    My understanding is, Valve doing VR because it’s a stepping stone to the next thing – BVR (Brain VR) or whatever. But from company that refuses to promote its own OS with exclusive games, creator of Steam Controller that works with all games ever , avid supporter of openness of PC gaming, this walled garden still seems weird. Can they afford to lose money on this, basically, vanity project? They very good at making money, mind you. Again, weird.

    • Andrew says:

      Also, I watched both streams Giant Bomb did about Rift and Vive. They had (close to) ideal setup for both. None of them want to buy any of those, despite praising hardware itself, or recommend them to someone else. So, no, John not alone in this. Obv, tech journalist would drool over VR for month or two, that’s their job, but lets see whats gonna happen after honeymoon period.

  15. NotTopCat says:

    Sounds broken. Clearly there are plenty of people out there who aren’t having these problems, and for them it’s wonderful. Unfortunately I am in the same boat as John. Apart from the fact I paid £750 for the privilege. Headset just won’t track properly, either doesn’t work at all or stutters all over the place. Compounding the issue is the fact that currently neither HTC’s Live Chat nor their email support is working. Probably inundated with people asking where their Vives are (see Eurogamer).

    I still think it will be great, and disagree with pretty much everything else John has written on the subject, but yeah, poor start.

    • NotTopCat says:

      An update in case anyone has similar problems – seems installing SteamVR somehow forced my processor (4790k) to throttle down to 800MHz. I have an MSI m/b – went in the bios, turned afterburner on, restarted a few times and now it’s working! First impressions: low res, conspicuous goggle effect, but still very, very impressive. I hope it is successful enough for a few more iterations.

  16. Wisq says:

    nowhere near enough for Ubisoft to make their next Assassin’s Creed VR only. Not even close. And of course that’s what it needs to be to really have a significant impact on the market.

    What? That’s a ridiculous expectation for any new technology.

    Seriously, go back and think about any major innovation in PC gaming technology: The mouse. The DOS to Windows shift, or Windows 3.1 to Windows 95. The shift from CGA to EGA to VGA to SVGA to VESA to 3D accelerated graphics (Voodoo et al). The next iteration of sound card.

    Think of any game company at the time, looking to release the next sequel in a major game franchise, with roughly a year until their next release. One of these new technologies comes along. Are they going to support it? Maybe. Are they going to make it exclusive to that technology? Hell no. It was at least twenty years before mice were even popular computer gear, and ten years after that before we had e.g. mouselook in FPS games.

    I realise technology is moving faster and faster, so we shouldn’t expect ten years for a new technology to catch on. But to think that we would go from “hey here’s this thing we just released” to “you now require this thing to play the most popular mainstream games” within the space of one or two years? Preposterous. I really can’t help but feel that you’re setting the bar too high just because — as you stated early on — you expected it to fail and already didn’t think it could bring much to games.

    • Andrew says:

      It’s not new technology: link to

      • Javerlin says:

        This is the first time technology of this time and scale has been made available to the consumer. Yes this is new. No we don’t fully understand it yet. No it’s not been around since 1952.

        • Andrew says:

          That’s very specific view of “new technology”, then. Is first iPhone was “new”? I don’t think so.

          Yes, you can say, that you can’t compare VR and smartphones. Smartphone is a (more capable in some areas) PCs in your pocket and VR is… VR. But that’s the point. No one needs VR. But VR needs very good selling points. Especially for this price (+ room space, + powerful PC). In not only mine opinion, it doesn’t have any.

          And 1968.

    • Premium User Badge

      FhnuZoag says:

      What helped the push of new tech, such as Windows 95 and Windows 3.1, was the contribution of business and productivity software. With new versions of Windows did come new versions of Microsoft Office. VR doesn’t have that.

      • NukeWithG says:

        VR has porn though. And porn was what made VHS win over Betamax back in the day. Porn was also a big part of what made the internet so popular.

        • aepervius says:

          I am not sure porn is that cracked to be. Let us get real even if what you “look” has a bit more volume, most people won’t care, and I shudder at the thought of somebody trying to use porn with such thick cable in the way :p.

          • Andrew says:

            On the bright side, erotic asphyxiation is way easier.

            But, yeah, porn is not going to be huge factor here, not anymore. It’s everywhere and free. VR is not.

          • Assirra says:

            I am about to blow your mind then.
            VR porn is already here and advertised on sites.

          • April March says:

            The difference between VR and VHS, with regards to porn… well, this is already one of the strangest comments I’ve ever written… is that one had to choose either VHS or Betamax to see any porn at all, or remain stuck with old Playboys. Conversely, if you don’t want VR, you can continue to see perfectly passable porn on the regular interwebz. I doubt that the ability to watch voluminous volumes of porn will weigh on the mind of people considering the purchase of such an expensive and expansive piece of hardware. Plus, sharp HD porn already has a pretty equal market share to grainy amateur porn…

    • suibhne says:

      It was at least twenty years before mice were even popular computer gear, and ten years after that before we had e.g. mouselook in FPS games.

      That’s not correct, unless you go back to a period before consumer computers (i.e., PCs). Your timeline for mouselook isn’t far off, since we had mouselook by the mid-’90s – about a decade after the mass-market debut of the mouse as PC hardware. But the history of the PC – the personal computer, mind – doesn’t realistically start in the mid-’60s. By that argument, VR started, what, 15 years ago? ;)

      In fact, your example could actually undermine your argument because early mouse adoption was in fact driven partly by a “killer app” – viz., MacOS and its accompanying apps. Apple actually recognized that they needed to develop apps like MacPaint, on top of the mouse-oriented Finder, to fully leverage the mouse hardware and capabilities, and this integrated software ecosystem (and extensive set of interface guidelines behind the scenes) became the equivalent of John’s “VR-exclusive Assassin’s Creed” – a killer app (or set of them) that was mouse-exclusive and entirely independent of non-mouse approaches.

      There are two approaches VR can feasibly take: the Tesla approach, of working down to the consumer level from the luxury/enthusiast market, or the mass-market approach, of pricing low enough to get mass consumer adoption and thereby drive developer support. Oculus, Valve, etc. have already abandoned the second approach. The current problem is that they think they’re taking the first approach, but they’re actually half-assing it. Tesla succeeded because it delivered, right out of the gate, a fully functioning product that was designed to strongly meet the daily needs of a subset of users. The first Tesla luxury sedan wasn’t an MVP; it was a fully-functioning luxury model without compromise (aside from its range and charging ecosystem, perhaps…but again, Tesla understood that these weren’t actually big needs for its high-net-worth initial customers because they were urban drivers who charged at home). Valve and Oculus have failed to deliver this level of immediate usability. Sure, they think they’ve gone straight for the enthusiast market…but the enthusiast market for PC gaming is a very different demographic from the luxury market for sedans, with very different demographics, home infrastructure, etc. I’d argue the Oculus Rift and Vive might’ve actually been priced higher, and Facebook and Valve could’ve used that to bundle much more functionality on the software side. In the current situation, they’re failing both ends of the market.

      • Wahngrok says:

        Funny that you mention the Tesla because they delivered indeed but into a very well established market and infrastructure. You don’t need to tell anybody how to drive and roads are also already there. All they needed to do is to set up infrastructure for proper ways of recharging away from home.

        VR while not being completely new is now just establishing a market on a consumer level. There’s a big difference between the two. Think of it more in the way cars entered into the mobility market. There were many people saying you don’t need it because you have horses and even some trains already and you couldn’t fast anyway because of the conditions of the road in any way.

    • Ooops says:

      Although I would have voiced it with more respect, I think your comment is the only sensible rebuttal to one of the article’s arguments, in the sea of ridiculous nagging that this comment thread is turning into.

      • Wisq says:

        Yeah, sorry if it sounded disrespectful. It’s just that John’s original assertion — that it had to instantly revolutionise gaming in order to be considered a significant impact — came across like one of those triple-A studios who are never satisfied with their game selling “only” a few million copies, and how it needs to be “the next Call of Duty” and seize the entire market or whatnot.

        Point being, VR can have an impact on the market without utterly dominating the market.

  17. Chiselphane says:

    I find it amusing that the only thing wrong about his 2015 predictions up to this point in the life of the hardware was that he thought there’d be some full-fledged games for it at launch. There aren’t any! Minigames, tech demos, and overlays for existing ones don’t count.

    • Premium User Badge

      Jearil says:

      I don’t know enough about the vive lineup, but I’ve played Chronos on Rift and it’s a full featured game that is not a tech demo and it’s pretty good. Darknet is a smaller puzzle game, but it’s also one I can play for hours. Elite Dangerous isn’t VR only, but the VR support is seamless and a far better way to play the game.

      I would argue that there are already full featured games on the market, there are also just a lot of tech demos as well, and that’s to be expected. What I find interesting about this article is a lot of it complains about the space requirements and motion tracking problems. I wonder what the author thinks of Rift considering most of his negative points don’t apply to it.

      • Chiselphane says:

        OK that’s fair, I’ll admit I was wrong about there not being actual games. My intent was more not really any ‘AAA’ games but in retrospect it makes a certain business sense not to sink that type of budget into unproven tech.

        I’d also like to hear John’s experience with the Rift

  18. bakaohki says:

    Two questions:
    1. can it be used without the whole silly setup, just the headset? Using it as a big monitor for example?
    2. can one keep his or her glasses on? Google glass was totally unusable without glasses and I’m not into contact lens.

    • John Walker says:

      1) Yes. Which I think will be its saving grace.

      2) Yes. They’ve specifically designed it to accommodate glasses, and the lenses can be adjusted back and forth with this in mind.

      • bakaohki says:

        Thanks John, this helps me. Thanks for the article too, I don’t want to burn myself with early adoption in this price range, so I’m happy for every opinion!

  19. crazyd says:

    It doesn’t require all that much space, this is just absurd. I’ve got a not particularly big apartment, and made plenty of space by just moving my (not huge) dining room table. If VR fails, a large part will be due to misanthropes like you spreading misinformation and poisoning the well. You came into this expecting it would be bad, and ended up with a big case of confirmation bias.

    • John Walker says:

      Sorry you struggled with the first two paragraphs. And I think most people aren’t going to be willing to sacrifice having anywhere to eat dinner, and having to set up their PC in the dining room…

      • crazyd says:

        Stop being such a handsome devil. It’s not a huge hassle to slide a table into my connected living room, or alternately, push my coffee table back a bit and play in the living room. You are blowing up the space concerns MASSIVELY.

        • John Walker says:

          No, I’m reporting the experiences I had. I’m delighted you live in such a huge house.

          • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

            While I agree with and laughed at your article, this is what really fucking winds me up about you John.

            Barely three scrolls of my mouse wheel up from this thread, and you’re cajoling someone for not countering you fairly. Then lo and behold, you do exactly the same thing. Rather than posit a mature argument you’ve just decided to shut down and be a twat to this guy.

            Fair enough his comment may have been pretty douchey, but I’m afraid responding to a dick by being dicky still makes you a dick.

            It also harms your credibility as a writer for this site; I used to love reading your stuff, but seeing the way you behave towards readers who don’t agree with you has made me jaded towards you, so much so that I skip over most of what you’ve published.

            The Internet will always be populated by total idiots who don’t have a clue what they’re talking about, maybe getting butt hurt by each and every one might not be the best way to save your face.

          • John Walker says:

            I’m sorry you don’t like it, but I have zero time for people who post to call me a liar. They’re never going to get a decent response.

          • Synesthesia says:

            “Are you a pathological liar?”

            Seriously though, my experience with john’s articles has been the same as yours, Capt. etcétera.

          • Javerlin says:

            Wait… You’re the pathalogical liar guy? Well at least you’re no nathon grayson. I’ll admit the guy had it coming but common. That’s real professional. Don’t do interviews you can’t keep your temper in. Make it difficult for him but jeeze that’s too far.

        • Xzi says:

          Yeah, the whole article reads like John struggling against the poor setup of his room rather than struggling against the Vive.

          • Xzi says:

            Which is to say, I think anyone willing to drop the cash on Vive is going to be willing to set up at least one room properly for it. I’m already there, and my Vive doesn’t even ship for another two weeks.

          • X_kot says:

            I guess I missed that on the box.

            Recommended requirement: 1 mortgage
            Minimum requirement: 2br/1ba apartment

          • Xzi says:

            I’ve got friends with one bedroom apartments that definitely have the space for it. Depends on how much you like to clutter up your existing space, I guess.

          • ramirezfm says:

            “anyone willing to drop the cash on Vive is going to be willing to set up at least one room properly for it”
            I laughed so hard. I bet your wallet is too small for your fifties and your diamond shoes are too tight. I’m sorry, but your (above) average Joe does not have at least one spare room for gaming. Life.
            You can spare one room for gaming? Great. But you’re in the minority.

          • Xzi says:

            I don’t have to dedicate the room to gaming, no. Minimum space is 5ft x 6.5ft, it’s not a big ask. Most people keep at least that much space open in their living rooms.

          • thekelvingreen says:

            I had a one bedroom apartment in the US. It was considerably larger than the one bedroom flat I have here in Brighton. I have no doubt I’d have the space to use the Vive there and I am certain I wouldn’t here.

            I rather suspect the device has been designed with the US and its larger living spaces in mind, so it’s no surprise that both Alec and John have had trouble making room for it.

          • Premium User Badge

            john_silence says:

            I was about to post the same thing. In most of the US, people live in houses. In much of urban Europe and Asia, not so much.

            Speaking from experience, in Paris a couple or 35-year-olds with no kids and enough disposable income to afford a Vive will typically live in a 40-m2 studio. They’ll be lucky if their living room is the size of a regular American bedroom. Expensive things seem affordable in comparison with interior space, so you tend to accumulate a lot of cool clutter inside a space unsuited to accomodate it.

            For me the Vive is a physical impossibility. I wonder how aware Valve are of this problem, how blindsided they are by a US-centric vision of domestic space, and whether they will adapt their approach for Vive 2, that I hereby dub the Wiwe.

        • bonuswavepilot says:

          For someone running this line (you disagree and thus are irrational), I must admit I was surprised at ‘handsome devil’ as the choice of insult…

          • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

            The original comment said he was a smarmy jackass, I’m assuming John edited it to troll him.

        • Ragnar says:

          Moving a dining table to play a game is not a hassle? I think you and I have very different definitions of “hassle”.

          From the sound of it, you have a VR capable PC in your living room? That is not a standard setup. Most people have their PCs in an office or bedroom or other relatively small space. Even for those with HTPCs, those PCs can’t handle VR.

          Alec described the realistic space required as that of a parking spot, with enough room to circle around the car. Very few people have that much free space in front of their gaming PC.

          • Razumen says:

            That’s only if you want to comfortably walk around, there’s a lot of VR games that are perfectly playable and designed to be played) from a standing position, where you can lean, crouch and move your arms with ease. For that you only need two yoga mats worth of space.

    • Bishop149 says:

      Just commenting that from my perspective (as a London resident) saying “I just had to move my dining room table” sounds roughly equivalent to “I just had to move my Ferrari into my 2nd garage”.

      Just imagine not only having space for a dining room table, but space into which to move an unused one! – Life goals.

      • Ragnar says:

        Don’t you just hate having to move the Ferrari into the second garage though? So inconvenient.

        I’m fortunate to live in a large 3500sf house in the US and I still barely have the minimum required space in the office next to my PC.

        Those that claim the space isn’t an issue sound like they live in mansions, or are single, or both.

  20. Kefren says:

    I think these headsets, for now, will best work when seated at a desk/sofa. Normal games played with a mouse and keyboard or controller, but allowing you to look round, and see things in 3D. Easy to set up, less hardware required, more time for fun. It could still be an amazing experience. I’d love ot play games like Amnesia with VorpX.

    I think it’s too early for mainstream “room scale” stuff. That is more likely when we have headsets that don’t need a PC (maybe they’d have a small laptop in a backpack, or built in) so you are “untethered”, no cables to trip over; and no need for base stations, the headset can work out where you are. Then you could use it easily in real spaces. I could go into the garden and have fun on an open space with no walls or furniture, and a soft ground. Get some fresh air too. That would be amazing.

  21. Don Reba says:

    I have a room that is, even accounting for Valve’s massive – er…

    Cake, John. Valve’s massive cake.

  22. flibbidy says:

    I think it’s safe to say that people willing to fork out £750 will probably also be willing to put the time into setting it up properly, and will have considered the space requirements.

    That’s not to say it’s going to be a success, those are three fairly important reasons already, but not sure your already dismissive attitude is particularly useful for buyers at this early-adoption nutter enthusiast stage

  23. bit.bat says:

    I think the article makes some good points towards the end. It is true that current technology is not as much of a barrier to immersion and escape as VR marketing material implies. That being said perhaps instead of thinking of how VR will fix an immersion problem its better to think of it as something that will provide new and different experiences but it doesn’t seem that this is what is happening currently. For now, this article has reminded me of how great gaming is as it currently is without VR which is something.

  24. Javerlin says:

    -top gear theme.-

    -A man plays a video game.
    -Once again Jhon misrepresents a product becuase he didn’t know how to set it up.
    -And one of the two earlier feels he must defend himself in the comment section.

    But seriously. I’ve seen someone set this up in under an hour. I’ve seen people on streams set their’s up and get playing LIVE! I’ve seen this tech working. How can you work in this industry and have such a scathing view on everything. First hyper light drifter where you misrepresent the game difficulty and design and now this?

    • Javerlin says:

      Also the bloody thing says it has no minium size requirement. Though not technicaly true, you don’t need that much space, you’re just misrepresenting the product.

      • Javerlin says:

        Also “Alec has written a proper grown-up guide to the HTC Vive, exploring in-depth various aspects and issues, with more professionalism than I could even begin to muster.”

        So what is the point of this? A comedy peice? Comedy that’ll affect the company? You once said on rumdoings (Which I’m listening to so I can hear nick actually putting forward well reasoned arguments to points that come up) that you do this becuase it’s what you’re good at. Reviewing “bad” things. But it’s just spreading misinformation and poisening an experiance people might have enjoyed. like is said above, your view of “bad” is not everyone else’s and you hold such a biased lense that any counter argument you put into your peices is buried under a landslide of negativity. You hold hor influence than you understand. ” We do not have a freedom of speech policy here. ” Don’t expect this comment to be here for long.

        • caff says:

          So you quote that bit, but then fail to quote his comment of “My response here is a purely personal, emotional one.”

          Christ almighty, some of the commenters here need to read and appreciate personal opinions that are the reason a lot of people like me read RPS.

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            Yup. It seems to me that some people are quite excited about the prospect of VR gear coming out, but nothing what I read in this article sounded overblown. Or perhaps they read this very differently than I did for some other reason? I don’t know, but there are a lot of ‘you’re wrong and you know it’ arguments when it’s mostly about John’s experiences trying the thing.

        • X_kot says:

          The first two sentences of the article very clearly state John’s thesis: the Vive isn’t going to be a huge success because of technical limitations and price. The paragraphs that follow illustrate one person’s difficulty setting up the equipment. Are you saying that the Vive will be a mainstream hit in spite of the finicky setup, the umbilical cord tying you to the PC, the significant investment, and the paucity of substantial games?

      • gwathdring says:

        From the website of the product itself:

        “What is the recommended space for the play area?

        Movement within a diagonal area of up to 5 m (16 ft 4 in) is supported. For example, a 3.5 m x 3.5 m (around 11 ft 5 in x 11 ft 5 in) space. For room-scale setup, a minimum play area of 2 m x 1.5 m (6 ft 6 in x 5 ft) is required. There’s no minimum for seated and standing experiences.”

        So if you just want the headset and want to leave the fancy room-scale sensor setup that you paid for in the box? Sure. There’s no space requirement. Similarly, if you never swing the Wiimote forward, you can use it within mere inches of your television. But this isn’t some obscure technicality.

    • Andrew says:

      How can you misrepresent your own experience, exactly?

      • Javerlin says:

        He’s been blinded by a hatrid of the technology. Either that or it’s for comedic effect. One can alter the tone with which one talks about one’s experiances to make it seem good or bad. John’s is always bad. He holds no flame to any counter arguments, reason or neutrality. This isn’t good journalism, this is like going to buzzfeed.

        I went to sri lanker this one time and got atacked by more leeches than I could count. I could say “Sri lanka is a horrible destination. Never go there! It won’t be sucsessful! It’s out of date and disgusting!” or I could say “Didn’t enjoy the leeches, but the country was sunny and hotel was clean. 7/10 would go there again for another try”

        See the difference?

        • caff says:

          You should have gone to Sri Lanka instead. Maybe there the leeches would inject some blood into your brain.

          • Javerlin says:

            Sorry supporter fan boy. But this emotional response holds too much sway with people like you that should be seeking a more balaenced and well reasoned viewpoint.

          • Javerlin says:

            Oh and don’t bother to reply to the actual claims I made in the comment. Thats just fine.

        • Andrew says:

          But everything was bad for him. Hardware, software, price (well, he didn’t paid for it, but still). So, no, it wasn’t sunny and hotel was awful. And this is his experience, even if he’s wrong – how can you argue about someone else experience?

          I remember one guy (I refuse call him journalist or even reviewer) who gave a big score to one game for potential *cough*GT*cough*. So, do you really want “VR is mediocre now, but I bet it would be great in couple of years!”? I don’t.

          Technology is not there it needs to be. Objectively not there. Software support is very poor too. VR is not worth it. Especially not 800$. Yet or ever.

          • Javerlin says:

            So you don’t want truthful well reasoned arguments that don’t self identify as childish? Go to buzzfeed. I’m annoyed becuase normally RPS is so good. Such a shame when the “head editor” tries to get involved with a personal peice. I get that it’s his site, but you have to get it’s everyone’s indistry and he’s misrepresenting a product that he got a bad experiance from due to his own failings.

          • Andrew says:

            Wait, what? Can you not put words in my mouth, please? And where do you get “childish”?! Nevermind!

            Do you believe (since you don’t own any but know so much about) VR? Good for you. I don’t. John don’t. Kotaku don’t. Giant Bomb don’t. Good for us too, eh?

            If you don’t like how John wrote it… I can’t help you. I find it funny enough (I was laughing at and with him). Again, it’s his experience. Do you really think he’s trying to misrepresent something here? Do you think he has something against HTC and/or Valve? Do they care? Do you believe in aliens? Do they care?

          • Javerlin says:

            He calls his own review childish. Maybe read it.

          • Andrew says:

            *Ctrl+Fs it* Are you in parallel universe right now? In one, when saying “right” means “left”?

        • bonuswavepilot says:

          Oh and don’t bother to reply to the actual claims I made in the comment. Thats just fine.

          Well, allow me! Let’s see what those claims are…
          1) John is ‘blinded by hatred’
          2) He does not adequately consider counter-arguments
          3) You don’t tell people to avoid Sri Lanka just because you had a leechy experience there once.

          1) So… If his article says ‘I don’t think VR will succeed, and I had a bad time trying to get this thing to work’, then the hatred isn’t blinding him, it is part of the subject of the article. He opens with a pretty clear statement of where he stands on this stuff, so it’s not like he is tricking anybody here. In case you missed it:

          My response here is a purely personal, emotional one.

          2) What counter-arguments are there to be made to someone relating their experience with a product? Unless you were peering through John’s window and saw that none of this happened, and are claiming he is making it up?

          3) If you wrote a blog full of travel-stories, your leech-filled Sri Lanka experience might be ideal for the site, and you would probably expect that your user community be bright enough to realise that it doesn’t mean every square foot of Sri Lanka is roiling with leeches, especially if you *opened the article* with a disclaimer to that effect.

    • Xzi says:

      Yeah, as somebody who’s been following every detail of Vive for quite some time, this article got me flustered. A lot of misinformation and user error.

      • Javerlin says:

        exactaly, This artical isn’t well reasoned and it’s why journalism should be baised on reason and impiricality rather than “this one time I had a bad experiance. I went into the thing looking for a bad experiance so I could write about it.”

        That’s entertainment writing, not journalism.

        • pepperfez says:

          Journalism is telling people who bought something that they did a good job and are very smart.

          • Javerlin says:

            I haven’t got any VR equpment if that is what you’re suggesting. Journalism should be about providing well reasoned information. Not click bait. Not entertainment. Well reasoned news, oppinion and information. Surely this is what everyone really wants from journalism in an ideal world. Unfortunatly this isn’t an ideal world and sites have to make sub quality articals to stay afloat. These articals shouldn’t hold this level of influence with people though.

        • Lars Westergren says:

          As Andrew wrote above – John describes his own experience, how can that be wrong exactly? What “objectivity” do you demand? “ACCORDING TO THE SCALE, THIS PRODUCT WEIGHS 4 KILOGRAMS. 11 KILOGRAMS IF CABLES AND PACKAGING IS INCLUDED!”

          Have you heard about post-decision dissonance by any chance?

          • Javerlin says:

            1. supporter
            2. I’ve clearly mentioned I want a well reasoned argument that doesn’t self-identify as childish, influencing people’s decisions when John clearly dosn’t even follow the instuctions he’s given.

          • Optimaximal says:

            Stop pulling up people for being ‘Supporters’. I believe this ‘tag’ is attributed to long-time commenters. If you’re thinking of the people financially invested in RPS, you’re thinking of a Subscriber.

            I have the ‘Supporter’ tag but haven’t ever financially contributed towards RPS.

        • ramirezfm says:

          So wait. You don’t have Vive, haven’t set it up, have virtually no practical experience with it. And yet you know better than a person that used it? Because you read some stuff? Damn, I read about royalty, now I’m queen of England!

      • iainl says:

        I’m not seeing any misinformation in the article. Perhaps you’d like to be more specific?

        I can accept that there’s some ‘user error’, however – John spends a lot of time discussing how the sensors aren’t set up how Valve want them to be. But consider; he’s a professional games writer, one who has been covering computer stuff for a long time. He may not have your near-Godlike powers of technology, but he’s hardly a complete novice. If he finds it so difficult to get things just like they need to be for the tech not to completely fail in a nausea-inducing manner, then Valve need to do a fair bit of work to make it simpler for the average user.

        I’ve seen a lot of gushing reports about VR over the last year or two. I’ve heard them from people I’ve talked to, who have tried it. Nearly all of them are about experiences when somebody else had to set them up first, and even helped them put it on their head.

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      Sometimes I wish I lived in a world as certain as yours, where there is one truth, and disagreement can only be ‘misrepresenting’ that truth, rather than someone having a different experience of something and then relating it.

      Sounds a bit like a religious position, rather than a discussion about gaming toys…

    • batraz says:

      Let me guess Javelin : you did spend the 750 pounds. Tech believers are so jealous of their many gods… Jokes apart, the piece is interesting for regular lame players like me, who have even less expertise than the writer here. You chosen-ones can still get the “truth” from the Tech Church Bulletin, can’t you ?

  25. Lars Westergren says:

    Damn. I had actually managed to hype myself up and was on the brink of ordering one. I do have a big enough room, but it is not the room where my gaming PC is located, so using it would require unplugging and lugging the computer around (and down some steep stairs).

    I will wait and check some more reviews I guess. Most of all I would like to try it out before ordering. I really want to try Tilt Brush thing and The Blue, but I don’t know for how long they would hold my interest. I guess I’m also looking for a killer app. I would like something like say Firewatch, SOMA or Portal but made with mechanics from the ground up to be played with VR.

    How was it, is Aliens: Isolation and Elite Dangerous still Vive compatible, and fun?

    • Reapy says:

      I think the smart move is to wait on VR if you aren’t fire jazzed up for FUCKING VR HOOOOLLLY SHIT (that’s me, so i’m going for it) and willing to get in and make some of your own stuff.

      You can look around and there are a lot of neat 10 minute things out there, but nothing killer. Well, simulation games make it killer, if you like sims. Racing, flying and all that. Now that I think about it, a good sub game in VR would be pretty awesome, and thinking on cramped spaces, a tank game where you pop up as the tank commander and huddle down inside it would be cool as well.

      I think the climbing game will be pretty cool, pinball in VR is kind of sweet, the DOTA 2 spectator mode thing in works is badass lookin, porn is kind of exciting, and just chilling with netflix/movie watching when needing some alone time.

      But yeah, it’ll get there, but for the ‘get it and get in right away to great entertainment’ is going to take a few years I think.

      I can’t wait though, I’ve waited for this thing since I was a kid, have worn the dk2 and crescent bay demo so know what I’m getting and am really, really pumped.

    • DrazharLn says:

      If your rooms are close enough together, you could just run long HDMI and USB cables between them to avoid lugging the computer.

      You can get both in 10m lengths for sure. I think HDMI goes longer, but USB can get a bit dodgy past 10, according to reviews.

    • Herring says:

      Lots of physical stores are getting it in or have it already. Go and have a play.

  26. Martha Stuart says:

    I agree that VR is in its infancy. Do I think it will be a flop? Absolutely not. There a quite a few reasons that I don’t think it will fail in the long run. The the primary reason is this:

    The Porn industry is already on board. I mean this seriously. if you look at the technology that has been adopted for the last 20 years. Especially the format wars (remember DVD, Blue ray, etc etc) The one the porn industry jumped on, took off and is now a standard in almost every home.

    And maybe 3D TV didn’t take off, but I and plenty of other use 3d monitors to play games. The Helix Mods are phenomenal for a huge number of games. I remember the first time I fired up Hawkin in 3D with full PhysX enabled. That was off the hook, and I still play in 3d whenever I am able.

    This is not even considering the application for this technology outside of gaming. There are a huge number of other sectors ranging from the medical industry to robotics that this technology will apply to. And that will be a major driving factor in its evolution. I agree with the sentiment, that if you are not a well off tech enthusiast you probably want to let the tech marinate for a bit. It is in no way shape or form going to Flop, only get better.

    • Archonsod says:

      I’m not so sure the porn industry will make much difference these days. In fact it’d be a reversal – porn sold VHS because VHS was the only way to get porn at home without paying a fortune for specialist equipment. With VR, you’re asking people to pay a fortune for specialist equipment in order to view porn at home. In an era when the porn industry is already struggling thanks to the internet …

      • Javerlin says:

        80% of the internet is porn. “Struggling.”

        • ramirezfm says:

          Yes, and everyone is paying for internet porn. Oh… wait…

        • Andrew says:

          Porn industry is struggling, because it’s hard to go against free.

          How many companies gonna produce VR porn with low installation base and knowledge that it’s going to be pirated within one hour?

          • Javerlin says:

            Sorry do you know about adverts and paywalls?

          • Javerlin says:

            You think porn dosnt have money? go watch the BBC 3 VR documentary. Then tell me pron dosnt have money.

          • Andrew says:

            I know about torrents. Are they some sort of keys to paywalls, right?

    • iainl says:

      I’m obviously not the expert on porn that you and the other VR advocates here are. But my understanding was that were onboard with 3DTV at least as quickly as they were with Blu-Ray. And yet that’s failed. With the exception of VHS (Sony wouldn’t let it on Betamax), I suspect that it’s more the case that some enterprising souls look at just about every new piece of technology with an eye to how it might generate profit via images of naked women.

  27. Alverezyar says:

    Well I don’t even know where to begin..

    John, you are wrong buddy and not just wrong like flat out, “this guy is a actually journalist” levels of wrong.

    A.) Surround sound systems easily have this many wires if not more. The fact none of you crack pot gamers know this makes me question pretty much everything else you say but lets continue..

    B.) The things don’t have to push amazing games at first to be a hit. They will be hit because of porn if nothing else. If they could do nothing else this alone would be enough. The fact that you either don’t know this makes me again question this whole article and your cred at a gaming journalist. Like how you exist in the gaming word and not know this is again telling.

    C.) They tell you to mount the damn base stations if you choose not to do that and then complain you are no better than a 1 star Amazon reviewer complaining his new tv remote doesn’t work because he didn’t bother to put in the batteries. Also if you don’t have the room for room scale and then blame the room scale for being room scale I.. just can’t.. oh GOD blood is pouring out of my noise.. what does a brain hemorrhage feel like?

    D.) You seem to have the foresight of a snails ass. If you don’t see the applications for this tech on a wider scale than you getting some Assassins Creed level of gaming you need to find a new job.

    It’s so easy to go on, but I’ve got work to do so I’ll leave it at this. People who are reading this guy and feeling like they dodged a bullet not pre-ordering let me assure yo that you are totally missing out but at the best time as it will only get better from here on out. John here is not someone you should listen to in regards to this technology and its applications. We are all entitled to our own opinions and all but this opinion is not a good one in the sense of its coming from someone that has ZERO ability to see past his own shitty views.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      > People who are reading this guy and feeling like they dodged a bullet not pre-ordering let me assure yo that you are totally missing out but at the best time as it will only get better from here on out.

      Are you reassuring us or yourself here?

      • Javerlin says:

        1. supporter
        2. He even links his artical to one that’s actually made a point of being well reasoned. If you want to reassure yourself instead of trying to undermine others, go read that.

        • Lars Westergren says:

          I’m a supporter, yes. I can still disagree with them without blowing a casket. I don’t need my buying decisions validated.

          I did read Alec’s preview before thanks, it actually got me quite interested in buying it. Now have another viewpoint from someone who I don’t always agree with but usually find it worth listening to.

          “Undermine” is a funny choice of words. I think you have post-decision dissonance actually. When a person invests a lot of money or energy in deciding something, they tend to disregard evidence that contradicts the choice they made, and seek out and view positively evidence that reinforces it. If people start worrying that they made the wrong choice, they feel anxiety and may lash out in anger. If they are finally convinced that they did in fact do the wrong choice, they may suffer the classic “buyers remorse”, which may lead to depression, or rage against the people who they feel “tricked them” into making the wrong choice, when in fact they often tricked themselves.

          We are all susceptible to it. My advice is to relax and don’t take consumerism so damn seriously. It is not healthy in the long run.

          • Javerlin says:

            I havn’t baught one. So your entire theory is null.

          • Lars Westergren says:

            You may notice I wrote “a lot of money or energy in deciding”.

            Since you haven’ bought one you presumably haven’t used one either, and you keep angrily lecturing John who has.

          • Javerlin says:

            You may also notice, Deciding wasn’t an issue. I’m waiting for the tech to grow a bit more. You’re being vindictive with your commetns.

          • spacedyemeerkat says:

            Gasket, surely? Casket blowing is overrated.

        • aepervius says:

          I am not a supporter and I bloody well disagree with what john write a lot of time (don’t get me started on walking simulator being game, or some stances and so forth).

          But in this case, when describing his experience, especially with the part of game availibility… He is probably more spot on than you wish. Thus the vehement defense. And the “1. supporter” as if this auto-magically meant huge bias in favor of John. Well woopy doo. I am biased “against” most of johns opinion and I agree with him.

          What will you write then ? “1) not supporter” ?

          • Javerlin says:

            Sorry you want to actually read any of the comments section? I’ve explained my reasoning well in other comments TL;DR John is misrepresting a product two of his colleges got running fine, that everyone else got running fine. John is an outlier who holds too much influence when his peice is inflamatroy, not well reasoned, badly reaserched (He didnt read the instuctions clearly). People need to call him out on this or journalism will all turn into buzzfeed.

          • Andrew says:

            @aepervius “Walking simulators” are games. But go on, everything else is fine.

      • Xzi says:

        Well, if you want a straightforward look at the thing, I recommend watching the Giant Bomb stream. They were largely unimpressed by Rift but they had a lot of fun with Vive, and didn’t have any of the same setup woes that John did. There are a whole lot of reviews out there now, as a matter of fact, and none of them had the same problems. Many foolishly mention needing a room for room-scale as a “con,” but they still enjoyed the experience anyway.

        • ramirezfm says:

          Actually if you read more than one review, the heavy wires and messy setup pops up quite often. One of the reviews sums it nicely : “The Vive is amazing. And it’s also a mess.”
          I guess you bought it, waving your ‘supporter!’ argument around. I’m not a supporter and yet I agree with John in almost everything. Haven’t seen Vive, but I had Oculus in my hands. It’s a cool novelty, but I wouldn’t like to have one myself. VR might be good, in the future, or might go the way of 3d movies.
          As for the porn argument, fapping with VR headset might be too inconvenient :)

    • suibhne says:

      I stopped reading at “surround sound systems”, because 1) there’s a huge range of surround systems – both low-end and high-end ones – that adapt to remarkably different spaces; 2) the listener isn’t physically tethered to the surround sound system; and 3) wireless speakers (especially rears/surrounds) have been a thing for…well, a long time now, and actually work pretty goddamn well.

      • Matt_W says:

        Well, and it strikes me that surround sound went out at about the same time we all started downloading mp3’s. It seems that most of us care quite a bit more about software than hardware, and that price and convenience are premium considerations, not fidelity and immersion.

    • iainl says:

      Did you not notice how it’s only us weirdos who installed the wires under the floor a long time ago who persist with surround sound in that format, and the mainstream dumped it for either wireless or Moore commonly soundbars a long time ago? Dedicated multichannel receivers are a tiny niche.

      • suibhne says:

        The only reason I persist with wires is that I put together this system a decade ago and I’m very happy with the sound quality. Setup is absolutely a pain in the ass, no two ways about it, but I only have to do it once when I move into a new place. If I were assembling a new surround system now, I’d absolutely go wireless for the rear channels. Contrary to the post above, wired surround sound systems are not a heartening lesson for VR adoption.

  28. BluePencil says:

    To those saying John’s comments on things may cause financial hardship for the companies who invested in the products:- surely there’s enough bloody hype, marketing balls and general positive promotion in this industry without making John feel he can’t heavily criticise the stuff he reviews?

    • Javerlin says:

      It’s not about financial harship. It’s the principle of honest and good quality journalism that doesn’t misrepresent products in a childish way that they think is funny. It is indeed funny, but theres a whole ocean of bitter grumpyness that has to be waded through first and this is going to apprear as many to read it as a factual and informative peice, rather than the satire it is.

      • montfalcon says:

        “Actually it’s about ethics in VR-gaming journalism”

      • Sarfrin says:

        No, it’s about you being annoyed that a man on the internet disagrees with what you think.

  29. Lars Westergren says:

    Since it has been brought up at least twice by people angry at John here: No, the porn industry didn’t make VHS win over Betamax, that is a myth.

    link to

    Neither did they make Bluray win over HD-DVD, that battle was decided by major film studios. In fact, early on the porn industry preferred HD-DVD.

    • Javerlin says:

      1. supporter
      2. they still account for a huge investment into VR and this old tech. The porn indistry is huge and money is money. The fact they wernt the sole reason for this techs sucsess, means nothing for their investment.

      • aepervius says:

        You “1 supporter” are beyond ridiculous. I advise you to take a breath and google “ad hominem”. You *firstly* calling people on who they are (user with supporter tag) rather than their argument is typical of ad hom.

      • Stevostin says:

        How much do you spend per month in it? Do you have any reason to think it’s different for other people ? See, it’s a very minor spending, so no, it’s not “huge”. “Car industry”, that is huge. Banking, most people pays a loan on a monthly basis, it is huge. Phone, not as big, but significant. Porn? Not that much. BTW have you ever heard of any filty rich porn actor? actress? producer?

        That’s what I thought.

      • Lars Westergren says:

        > they still account for a huge investment into VR and this old tech.

        Show me where the porn industry have invested in VR in any significant way. Please.

        > The porn indistry is huge and money is money.

        Not compared to the rest of the entertainment industry they are not. And the sector is shrinking quite rapidly. Porn is widely available for free, both amateur stuff that people do for fun, and older stuff being circulated without giving them any revenue.

        And BESIDES this whole point is moot, at least for the Vive. Valve don’t allow explicit porn games on Steam!

        • Javerlin says:

          The BBC did a whole documentary on it. Go look. And money IS money. Regardless all of the entertainment indistry is putting money into this thing so your point is moot.

          Valve won’t show pron on steam…. Sorry do you know what investment is?

          • Lars Westergren says:

            > Valve won’t show pron on steam…. Sorry do you know what investment is?

            Gosh, yeah, I’m sure one of the most profitable-per-employee companies in the history of the planet with billions of dollars in revenue per year is just dying get investments from the porn industry.

          • Javerlin says:

            Watch the BBC 3 documentry, I’m going now. Don’t get caught up in your own bigtry.

      • melnificent says:

        That reminds me, I need to renew my supporter status.

    • Martha Stuart says:

      From my understanding Sony didn’t want to license their tech to anyone else. So adult industry went with VHS. VHS ended up winning.

      I don’t think anyone said they decided the format wars. What I said at least is that the tech they adopted ended up winning. Weather that was because of them or some other outside factor I don’t know.

      But I quote:
      If you look at the VHS vs. Beta standards, you see the much higher-quality standard dying because of [the porn industry’s support of VHS],” he said. “The mass volume of tapes in the porn market at the time went out on VHS.”

      So I think the argument can go both ways. But I think they had a bigger effect than you give them credit for.

      • Hedgeclipper says:

        Beta also had limited length compared with VHS and was more expensive – better fidelity recording doesn’t always make for a better overall format – look at MP3s rise to dominance for example.

        Still, seeing a lot of comments saying porn will drive uptake, but I do wonder how many people really want to strap a brick to their face to see it even with the 3D.

  30. Stevostin says:

    Thing is… how did the other do ? Even on RPS two other guys managed to have the thing running. Then on many other website, they did it too. Sure, we’ve seen report of “there’s a lot of stuff” and “it requires space” but no one got stuck and all ended up speaking about the games. Reading the above, it’s not clear if you reached that stage in your home setup.

    • Xzi says:

      I think John’s subconscious was playing a role here. He already had a bias against VR, so he set it up wrong from step 1, knowing on some level it would give him a bad experience and confirm his bias for him.

      • John Walker says:

        Oh God you actually believe this.

        • Javerlin says:

          Well why not? You beleive VR isn’t going anywhere… Ever.

        • Xzi says:

          Well, no. Just trying to think up possibilities for why your write-up is so polar opposite of every other hands-on/review article out there.

          • Andrew says:

            What “every other”?

            But that customizability is also its greatest flaw. There’s so much…stuff, and setting it up is a huge pain in the ass. The Vive ships in one gigantic box, about the size of a mini fridge, and inside that box are two wireless controllers, two base stations, a headset, and a bridge for connecting the headset to your PC.

            And each accessory has at least one cable running to it. Finding the right slot for all of the different cables proved to be annoying—even for someone who spends every waking hour focused on technology. The system requires a total of five power outlets: two for the controllers, two for the base stations, and one for the bridge that connects the headset to the PC. You’ll also need power running to the PC and the monitor. So if you’re clearing out space for a new HTC Vive, you’d better have a room with plenty of wall outlets.

            It took me almost an hour to get all of the accessories plugged into the right places. Once everything was connected, I got to the easiest part of the setup, downloading Steam and installing games. After all the software installation I had to calibrate the controllers, the headset, and the playing area. It was not easy, or quick, but finally—it was time to play some games.

          • Andrew says:


            So the headset is heavier and not as polished as its competitors, the cable bundle is clunky, and setup requires a large initial investment from the player in just about every way.

          • Andrew says:

            Even friggin Time:

            The bad: Expensive; lots of gear to keep track of; must remain tethered to PC

          • Xzi says:

            None of those are saying the same thing John is, though. They all had very few/no issues once initial setup was complete. The rest is just first-world problems. “Waah, it weighs 2 lbs instead of 1.5 lbs! Waah, wireless data transmission is still way too slow for this!”

          • Andrew says:

            Yes, they are. They all pointing at the same physical flaws of the system. First world problems? Well, they not complaining about hunger, thirst and malaria, yes, but people in first world countries expect simplicity and comfort for 800+ bucks and rightfully so.

            Personally, I don’t want to pay any money to play inferior games in less comfortable situation. On the other hand, I would (and I did) pay money for comfortable chair, good two monitor setup, wireless gamepad, etc. And I don’t want to throw away, or just move, my big computer table for setting up play space. I don’t think even that is a good investment of just my time. Especially if you consider all other problems that VR has.

            I’m kinda baffled, that this needs to be said, but… How about trying to parse this and other reviews? Like, if you have space, money and you like tinkering with tech stuff, then ignore this one and read others. This one not for you. It’s written in a (arguably) funny way, but basically, as all other reviews everywhere, boils down to “if you in situation similar to John’s/if you like games (tech, whatever) that John likes/etc., then this is his recomendation”. If you ever read anything editorial from RPS (or other places that don’t like word “objective”), then you already know that. Not a rocket science, you know.

          • Thankmar says:

            Declaring criticism about weight and lag in a completely superficial technical gadget first world problems is quite funny.

  31. K_Sezegedin says:

    I’m not sure i understand how you couldn’t use the brackets John, two inch holes is surely somewhat of an exaggeration, and even if true can’t you just use washers or something?

    I mean you just had these things sitting on boxes on top of bookshelves and you expected them to stay in place??

    • John Walker says:

      No, “two inches” are the words printed in the instructions.

      And yes, since the Vive’s instructions suggest using bookshelves, I did expect that.

      • Andrew says:

        Stop ruining counterpoints with your logic!

      • Razumen says:

        Two inches deep, or 2in. wide? I kinda find it hard to believe it’s the latter and not the former. That’s pretty normal for hanging anything substantial on your walls.

  32. montfalcon says:

    This comments section is a mess. I found the article both informative, as a reported experience and opinion, and entertaining.
    The fanboy comment wars below it are… less enjoyable.
    Not everyone has to love NEWThing(TM) that you are excited about. That is A-OK. Calm down. Daring to be incisive and critical of products in a sea of puff-pieces and marketing spiel is one of the main reasons I read and visit Castle RPS.

    • caff says:

      Hear hear!

    • richard says:

      Absolutely. However it has let me test out the “Block” button for the first time.

      John — I know that feeling of tech disappointment well and only have sympathy for you. However, can you please contract Marsh to turn your Vive misadventures into a slapstick cartoon strip?

      • SpiceTheCat says:

        There’s a block button? Oh yes!

        *experimental prod*

        Wow, that’s so much better. Although it now looks like Lars Westergren is talking to himself, poor lad.

    • Xzi says:

      It’s not informative at all. If someone had read only this article about Vive, they’d have no idea what it is or what it does, let alone how to set it up properly. This is an opinion piece and there are a thousand more objective, more detailed reviews out there. Around the web this is actually reflecting pretty badly on RPS.

      • caff says:

        What on gods earth are you talking about? You don’t speak for the internet.

      • bonuswavepilot says:

        This is an opinion piece and there are a thousand more objective, more detailed reviews out there. Around the web this is actually reflecting pretty badly on RPS.

        No doubt you took the time to comment on those various sites about how good their articles were also, not being the sort to just trot this nonsense out when you want to attack something.
        So firstly, humans are bad at objectivity, which is why we need disciplines like science to ever be sure we’re seeing evidence of something about the world, rather than something about our own biases. Most of the time when someone tries to claim objectivity for themselves, its just another way of saying “I think I’m right and you’re not.”
        Secondly, RPS makes a point of the subjectivity of their content, which is a large part of what makes this site worth reading, in my opinion. If John’s experience of this tech was that of things going wrong, then why wouldn’t I want to hear about that too?

      • John Walker says:

        Oh gawd, you see the bit where I link to our amazing and detailed guide to the Vive, before going on to say this is a personal/emotional piece? Argh! My brains : (

  33. Michael Manning says:

    I’ve been using it in my dinky office where my PC is I have to track over my desk to get the minimum space. The base stations are placed on top of a keyboard which is on top of some boxes and the other station is on a shelf in a cupboard with the door open. Not idea. John is right there is a fair amount of faff involved and it’s super annoying lugging my PC downstairs to play in a bigger space. But I’ve not had that hard a time with it, I played valves arcade shooter thing for a couple hours last night in my office was a blast. Hover Junkers was a bit more difficult while also trying to be careful not to bosh my head on my desk lol.

    It’s in no way ideal, any of it but for me I’ve had no tracking issues or base station problems. Budget Cuts demo is the best thing on there imo, first sign of a real full game.

  34. Romeric says:

    Wow. There are some angry, frustrated people on here this evening. I just want to say that I thought this was a marvellous piece of writing and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The comments not so much.

    It’s becoming increasingly apparent that you need a very steely resolve writing for this industry. I don’t know if I could take it. John, Alec, Alice, Phillipa, Marsh, Jim, Rab and all the rest at RPS, I tip my figurative hat to you.

    • caff says:

      1. Supporter


    • Mogglewump says:


    • Hmm-Hmm. says:


      Like something or not.. it’s okay. It just seems to me that people are very invested in the idea and falling over themselves to criticise a mostly subjective account (which I found most interesting by the way, John) of trying out unproven tech. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for why this comment section got so heated.

      And no, I’m not against people who are into VR or feel this article was bad.. but I kinda feel like it’s hard to claim that most of it can be bad if it’s mostly about one person’s attepts at getting some tech to work. Other people may have an easier time, maybe.. that doesn’t discount John’s own experiences, now does it? Aren’t we all benefiting for more views on the subject rather than only getting a few accounts? If you don’t trust John, that’s fine. But then there’s little he can do to fix that.

    • Otterley says:


    • SpiceTheCat says:

      It is impressive that the RPS stalwarts keep on writing, in the face of some of the stuff that appears in the comments. Given that we’re talking about an area of entertainment, to give people something fun to do in their spare time, that encompasses a huge range of styles and genres and can aspire to moments of genuinely artistry, commenters can summon up a surprising amount of hate from somewhere over utter trivia.

      Also, 1. Supporter. Because the writing here is second to none and the arsehole quotient amongst the commentariat despite everything is noticeably lower, although sadly not zero.

    • Skabooga says:

      Here here!

  35. Chaz says:

    Wow there’s some folks here getting very defensive over the Vive. It’s like the PS3 and the Sony Defence Force all over again. You say anything negative about their chosen product and they just come along and jump all over you.

    • slerbal says:

      I agree, though looking at the comments it is one person in particular who just won’t shut the fuck up. I thought John’s article is good – it is a personal experience of one man’s attempt to set up and use the Vive (and that man is an experienced games journalist who has done this kind of thing many times before). It sounds like I would have exactly the same kind of issues.

      That guy who keeps writing “1) Supporter” can just go fuck off back to troll land :)

      • Rahven32 says:

        The problem with this whole article is that he sabotaged it from the beginning. This is the type of guy who goes into an experience expecting the worst and of course he’s going to get what they expect. If something is not properly set up of course it’s not going to work. Not to mention he let one of the lighthouses fall seven feet to the ground. A device filled with mirrors and lasers I mean come on who does that. What kind of “tech enthusiast” can’t install a simple speaker mount. 2 screws and 2 drywall anchors that’s it.
        This whole article was nothing but a giant troll. If it was somebody that actually set it up properly and heading into it with a neutral attitude going into it and found that it needs a lot of work I could understand but this guy is a joke. If I was a tech enthusiast and wrote this article I would be embarrassed to publish it

  36. syllopsium says:

    I think John has a decent point here, it just sounds far too bachelor(ette) pad even for me, and my house is pretty bachelor..

    The rooms I have that are large enough are places I don’t want computers (bedroom), currently have too many computers but will be turned into guest bedroom (study), and set up permanently for a large projection screen, and game consoles behind the couch because the space would otherwise be wasted due to the couch being positioned 1.5x screen width away (lounge).

    I’m prepared to consider VR will be awesome, but I don’t think it will be something that’s used all the time. It’s a faff to move furniture around when something is to be used.

    I’d far sooner have a projection screen and a seat next to a load of game consoles than reserve space for an infrequently used VR helmet.

    Therefore, this is mostly going to be the preserve of anyone who has a large 4+ bed house, and probably no kids. Is the Vive cat proof, never mind kid proof?

    • Dinger says:

      Someone has to say these things. To use an American reference, John Walker sometimes comes off as the Andy Rooney of games journalism: the cranky guy at the end of the show who points out how ridiculous it all is.
      Look, Games Journalism has problems, but they’re not the ones you think.
      For example, here we have “John sucks at games”. Look, if someone has to make a living playing a bunch of games and writing reviews of them, she can’t be an expert at all them. I have much fewer games and have spent a lot of time on a very small number of them. Steam tells me that I’ve spent a couple hundred hours on Invisible, Inc. Do I want someone who’s spent 200 hours on Invisible, Inc to write a review about how awesome it is? Or would I criticize that person for being crappy if they described how, on easy, they screwed up a mission and everybody died?
      Another is the relationship between industry and journalism. No, it’s not about corruption, it’s about what exactly a review should serve. We’ve all seen fundamentally broken, unplayable games get great reviews because the reviewer didn’t think it appropriate to mention things like the game uses an authentication server that doesn’t work, or inadequate testing made the game unplayable on most platforms. Why? Well, we’ve also seen reviews that pan games for being non-functional, and the first thing that happens is someone posts in the comment thread “Works for me, you idiot.” So, yeah, just about every decent review mentions the hardware problems (although the fact that the lighthouses, in scanning two lasers at right angles at on a 30 Hz cycle, causes them to vibrate seems to escape most of them, as does the point that a swaying lighthouse=vomitville), but somebody’s got to state when it don’t work.
      Another industry/journalism problem is that industry thinking infects the journalist and hinders vision. You’ll find this in discussions that echo marketing jargon (“Assassin’s Creed is coming out in 30 different SKUs”), and in statements like “I don’t see a AAA title for this any time soon.”
      Yes, I certainly don’t either: a AAA title costs tens of millions, sometimes over a hundred, to develop. You need millions of sales to recoup those costs, and these things aren’t going to sell in the millions, not just yet.
      And John’s merely echoing consensus that developers haven’t entirely figured out what to do with it anyway.
      Or who it’s for. Look at the way the Vive is being marketed: they’re selling it as a living-room experience to be enjoyed with friends.
      That kind of living-room real estate exists in American homes, but European ones aren’t so big, and you’d have move things around. It then becomes an expensive party-toy. Sure, eventually, someone’s going to make a ceiling bracket with a projector, a VR-capable computer, and an Aperture-lab style hinged arm to keep the cables up and out of your way while you play, but that’s neither tomorrow nor cheap.
      But, in any case, the usage model for that is very different from the tradition of having a PC gamer hunched over a screen in a dark closet. And the Vive poses challenges for the troglodytes out there, as Mr. Walker’s editorial clearly shows.

      But the fact is that its out there, and that it inspires the imagination (which 3D-TV never did) of game players and developers alike. So I don’t think this will sell like the iPhone, but it is going to change things in ways that people in the game industry cannot yet see.
      Speaking of iPhone, years ago, I bought a Nokia n800 internet tablet, because I saw that a handheld, ARM-powered touchscreen device running linux and wifi would revolutionize mobile computing. I wasn’t wrong about that, but I didn’t by the n770 either. I also got my parents to buy a first-gen Commodore 64 (but not the Vic 20) and Amiga 1000 (But with 512 Ram, not 256).
      I’ll probably buy the next generation, but not this one. The third generation will be the killer, and by then, John will have enough space, as Rock, Paper, HIDcrab’s VR Pavilion will have become the go-to place for VR entertainment news, and he’ll be filthy rich irritating fanbois about the inane banality of the jokes in Deponia VR™.

  37. Hidoshi says:

    I really enjoyed this piece of writing John, thanks!
    To help prove your point with the technology:
    I have a Oculus Rift DK1 and so did a colleague. He didn’t have trouble setting it up, I had a LOT of trouble setting it up. We’re both tech guys, but somehow SOMETHING in my pc didn’t like the OR. And once it did, the next update worked for me but not for my colleague. Shit happens, that’s why developers like developing for consoles, since you get less odd bugs and it’s more “monkey proof”.

    I do still remain with a few questions though for which I can’t find answered anywhere, since everybody with the Vive plays Vive only games:
    1. Can you play Rift games on the Vive?
    2. Is there a possibility to play these Vive games just sitting down? I don’t feel like standing for every VR experience..

    P.s. Some of these comment discussions remind me of Star Citizen, where there was also so much fanboying involved..

    • Andrew says:

      1. Murky area right now. Some games are on both stores already, technologies very similar, I don’t know about any (not timed) exclusives, but there is always a possibility of something not so user friendly happening.
      2. In their VR store there are categories for both “sitting” and “room” games.

      • Premium User Badge

        iris79 says:

        Reading this reminds me of setting up IKEA furniture, I still buy furniture though. Don’t have the space for a vive anyway as that spare space I get from living in Australia goes on a drum kit and amps plus I dunno how my eyesight goes with VR for longer term fun. The article was cool, the comments idiotic. One article is going to ruin VRs future! John is so powerful but still needs to be embarrassed for not being manly enough to set sh*t up properly. Porn porn porn. BTW a close friend runs one of the top 10 visited gay porn sites in the world, in his opinion VR will have limited affect. People want to buy lots of cheap stuff, a gear VR for less than 100 bucks will luck out for porn not these setups.

    • melnificent says:

      I don’t know if you can play rift games on the vive, but I do know that you can play Vive games on the DK1. Which is all the more amusing as Oculus have deemed the DK1 too lowly for support.

      1. Install 0.8,
      2. install steamVR,
      3(a). Look for Vive games that are seated/standing.
      3(b). Ignore oculus only games, 1.3 means they are non-functional for us
      4. Select SteamVR mode at startup.
      5. Enjoy

  38. neems says:

    Mr Walker, have you tried putting the lighthouses on the floor? Apparently they will work. Or maybe use the synch cable? It shouldn’t need it, but it definitely sounds like something funky is going on.

  39. Emily Dare says:

    I had similar setup issues with a clear space in a room that was built as a dedicated VR lab. And even with excess space and perfectly wall-mounted Lighthouses, the headset just drops tracking sometimes, randomly and the cord is still a PITA to manage.

    That said, my work in VR has little to do with gaming, so all the very legitimate concerns about gaming content don’t really phase me. But I’ll be fascinated to see if VR sticks in the gaming environment. I mean, currently the killer app for VR is Tilt Brush.

    Tilt Brush.

    (Gamers love Elite, mind, as do I, but Tilt Brush is what drops jaws every time I demo it.)

    The space issues and beyond finicky setup is why, while I use both a Vive and a Rift+Touch at the office, I personally only bought the Rift for my shoebox bay area apartment.

  40. MrUnimport says:

    “I know VR can’t yet remove the lag with wireless headsets, but if this is the best we can do, it’s really not worth trying. Cords like this are going to be as laughable as early ’90s brick-sized mobile phones. ”

    Given that every millisecond of input lag famously counts in VR, is it really an option to hope for the discovery of quantum entanglement communication or whatever will make wireless headsets workable?

  41. Rahven32 says:

    Perhaps next time he should have his grandkids set it up for him that way they can set the VCR clock while they are at it.

  42. Pslulz says:

    Predicting VR won’t take off for years is not much of a prediction. It will be practically a year before the rift even has vr controllers. I think “years” is the general estimate for even those who expect it to change the world. Comparing VR to 3d tv is as ridiculous as comparing VR to a viewmaster. And it sounds like installing speakers for you would be a challenge. Would you give a negative review to a sports car just because you can’t drive a stick?

  43. koolout says:

    I think the article comes off a bit as a luddite opinion, but with your age I assume you’ve built your own PC to game before. That just confuses me though, as I’d assume someone that has done that has the patience and skill to put together a new technology such as this.

    At any rate, the point I wanted to make was a counter to this

    “My argument is, succinctly, that it will not get a broad enough userbase for major publishers to recoup the hundreds of millions they’d need to spend on triple-A games, so will remain a novelty for relatively well-off tech enthusiasts.”

    Both Valve and Facebook have enough money to fail for 3 generations of the HMD. I don’t see that as a real problem. In that ramp up period, I think they also have the time, money, and technical resources to assist devshops and publishers during the infancy of the technology. Will it be the craze Wii was when it initially shipped? Probably not, but I do think it will have the adoption of initial 3dfx gaming, enough so that there will be titles for the HMD features for years to come.

  44. Aitrus says:

    I disagree with this article’s conclusion but I still appreciate its existence.

  45. Caiman says:

    Trouble is, when I read things like “The box comes with about two hundred and seventy further boxes inside, miles of wires, and more cable ties than I’ve ever seen in one place.” it’s clear you are exaggerating. But then I don’t know when you’re exaggerating or not elsewhere. Inch thick cable? Really? Is that an exaggeration or not. I have no idea, because you’ve established early in your article that I can’t take your descriptions at face value. Also, picturing you screaming and swearing like a spoiled child really doesn’t give me much confidence in your opinion either.

  46. glocks4interns says:

    Valve didn’t make a game? Me from 2009 is shocked.

  47. Don Reba says:

    It feels as though, like a lot of life’s problems, these could have been solved with duct tape.

  48. megabee says:

    This thing’s only been out for a couple days and I’m already dead tired of hearing about it. I cannot wait until this fad goes the way of 3D televisions (for the second time).

    The VR Defense Force is being SUPER obnoxious here.

  49. Ancient Evil says:

    You know, I’ve tried VR, thought it was really cool even, and I rarely agree with John Walker on anything. And yet even I really appreciated this article. It’s about time someone moved beyond half-hearted disclaimers about minor teething issues and took a cold hard look at this VR thing. ESPECIALLY the Vive.

    It was impressive to see just how quickly the Vive stole the Rift’s thunder among the gaming media and public in the run up to their release. Not hard to understand why, though – the combination of the “room scale” siren song and the Valve > Facebook sentiment was a powerful combination.

    But while the Rift already had an uphill battle, the Vive faces more like a sheer cliff. I felt this “room scale” thing was fucked from the get go, and that was even without accounting for any of the glitchiness and crashes that John is describing. People simply don’t have the space, VR game design becomes an even bigger nightmare, and the discomfort and awkwardness that was already inherent to the Rift gets exponentially increased by now asking you to stumble about your room, flailing your arms, draped in cables, in addition to simply wearing the mask. And how about that $200 premium over what was already a worrying price point for the Rift.

    If any one company kills VR dead in its infancy, it’s going to be Valve, not Oculus. A cripplingly half-baked experience, at a ruinous price point, all while splintering what was already going to a a fragile, untested market. Good job, Gaben.

    Everyone kept insisting over and over, “this isn’t the new 3D”. You’re damn right it isn’t. Nvidia 3D Vision cost only $100, necessitated a relatively unobtrusive pair of wireless shades, and by comparison asked developers for utterly inconsequential accommodations to game development to ensure a smooth experience. And yet it crashed and burned. What does that tell you?

    Ironically, high panel quality, high refresh-rate monitors are looking to become the standard for PC gaming in short order. And there was certainly quite feasible room for refinement on the 3D glasses end as well. Developer support was a cakewalk compared to VR. In hindsight, 3D was an eminently achievable incremental step forward in gaming verisimilitude.

    And yet we danced on its grave, took an even bigger gamble with the Rift, before throwing that overboard as well to climb the pinnacle of folly with the Vive’s “room-scale” VR. Admittedly, sneering at concepts like “moderation” and “realistic, incremental progress” in favor of reckless extremes and magical thinking seems to be all the rage in the Western world these past few years, and video game gizmos are unlikely to even register a blip among the biggest tragedies that come of it. But that’s a whole other discussion.

    Anyway, I’d love to be wrong, I really would. It’s the creeping feeling that I’m not that’s so depressing.

    • Aitrus says:

      Iss only a game, why you heff to be sad?

      • Otterley says:

        Nah, it’s a piece of hardware, mate.

        • Aitrus says:

          Point still stands. Life goes on, right? I understand having strong emotions about this stuff, but if it doesn’t catch on then it doesn’t catch on and we can all give it some more time.

    • Wahngrok says:

      So you don’t like room scale? Guess what, the Vive can do seated VR too. The Vive is 200$ more expensive than the Rift? That’s because of the motion controllers shipped with it. The Rift will get them too at an unspecified price but I wouldn’t expect them to be much cheaper.

      Maybe you’d be better off with Google Glass, Gear VR or Playstation VR. But please don’t bash the premium segment for being more expensive and having more features.

      3D glasses died because because the gains are relatively small. The “new” VR experience is much larger than just 3D. The biggest factor is head tracking which leads to much higher feeling of immersion.

    • Razumen says:

      There’s a lot wrong with your post, but I’m just going to say that two yoga mats worth of space is NOT a ludicrous amount of space to require. That’s like the size of the average space you’d need to comfortably use an office chair.

      Also, I wouldn’t take this article as a reliable and objective accounting of the Vive’s performance.

  50. Rutok says:

    Wow, that was quite a rant. I really tried to read through all that but had to stop about halfway through. How difficult can it be to set up 2 tiny boxes and secure them so that they dont fall off a shelf? You know there are all kinds of things you could have used.. like velcro, dual lock velcro (the one that has hooks on both sides), double sided tape,… but no, writing 3 paragraphs about how its impossible was more fun i guess.

    What i dont get is why so many people want to see it fail. Is it just so they get to say “see, i told you!” ? The tech will either succeed or it wont. People will move on either way. I bought one of the 3d Monitors when nvidia tried to make 3d mainstream and then kind of forgot about it. And i was a bit sad that they didnt seem to care, they where content to let a single freelance developer code support for almost all the latest games (btw: Thank you Helix!). But the point is: it was still great. Playing Alien Isolation with the glasses was insanely good.

    This has a chance to be even better. If it sells good enough they might even make a next gen version where they improve upon the thing you loathe so much.

    When the first playstation launched, it was also pretty expensive and it also had only a handfull of titles. They seem to be doing pretty well now.

    • Don Reba says:

      He wrote a page of complaints after not bothering to select keyboard in pre-game configuration for Binary Domain. One of the best cyberpunk stories in games, by the way.