This past Christmas everyone took a few second to look up from their phone during television commercial breaks to watch families unwrap the hottest gift on the market. These commercials pictured families gathered around a new virtual reality headset, with kids and grandparents alike trying out the new VR games. Each one marveled with mouth agape as hands jumped with surprise. After seeing essentially the same commercial air over and over, less and less people were compelled to actually give their attention to the advertisement rather than their phone. It is obvious that virtual reality is quite a technological feat, to be transported from a living room to another universe filled with adventure at your fingertips. Will it be as big of a market as expected though?
Billions of dollars will be invested in virtual reality technology, but in the end, the consumer is the final judge of market success. Virtual reality headsets did not seem to be as high in demand as gaming technologies of past holiday seasons, such as the Wii or the Xbox 360. It is true that gaming developers are still in the very early stages of creating virtual reality content, but will market demand meet investors’ expectations any time soon?
Video games have come a long way since the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System, but most games are still played using a television set, a handheld controller, and a comfortable couch to sit on. There is something enjoyable and even relaxing about this long established format. To play a game entirely inside of a virtual reality world is very impressive and exciting at first, but will the novelty wear off?
Even the most immersive first person games are not completely immersive. They do not block out all peripheral vision the gamer has of the real world. To be completely wrapped up in a virtual reality headset can potentially cause the user to feel motion sickness. In a world where everyone is being warned about the toll constant smart phone usage can take on one’s mental health, an all immersive virtual reality can pose many undiscovered risks.
In some form or another, it is very possible that virtual reality will be widely used one day. However, it seems that in its current state, the clunky headsets of today may fall well below investors’ market expectations.