VR, or “virtual reality” if your first taste of it was 1992’s The Lawnmower Man, has taken huge strides forward in the last couple of years, culminating with the recent solicitation for the Oculus Rift.
The Rift came in at both a lower than expected asking price ($599 for headset, sensor, remote, cables, Xbox One controller, EVE: Valkyrie, and Lucky’s Tale) and a more depressingly probable $1,598 if you don’t already have a “Rift ready PC,” and are forced to buy both the PC and the Rift package.
(Most reading this will likely have to go this direction if they wish to experience it.)
Still, given the gaming capabilities that Oculus brings to the table with its VR technology, $1,598 is still cheaper than what you will likely pay for a Donkey Kong Arcade Machine.
That said, most analysts believe the price point is too high for widespread adoption at this point. However, that hasn’t stopped Goldman Sachs from sharing their more optimistic long-term projections.
According to the company, reported here by Business Insider, VR tech will be bigger than television inside of 10 years.
Just how much “bigger” will it be?
According to a report from the banking firm, the VR market will generate $182 billion dollars ($110 billion hardware, $72 billion software) “compared to TVs $99 billion in 10 years,” BI notes.
Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe liked that projection, and told BI that the company “definitely” aimed in the long term to “get a billion people in VR” and that “these two areas and categories will converge and deliver an incredibly comfortable VR experience in a set of sunglasses” eventually.
That could take longer than a decade to pull off, though, he acknowledged.
And that could also be where VR technology has the toughest time.
The closest thing you can use to compare virtual reality and television at this time is the difference between going to see a movie at the theaters and choosing between 3D and 2D.
While 3D, long thought a “gimmick” or a “novelty” has carved out a reliable niche at the box office, most movies are still shown (and watched) in 2D for a reason. That’s the experience audiences prefer.
Also, to a lesser degree, eBooks, while they have definitely accelerated their growth in recent years, have not taken complete control of the market.
Many people still prefer a little simplicity with their entertainment experience in the same way that the majority of homeowners don’t want “smart” (read: hackable) homes.
At the present, VR is definitely a cool tech with tons of possibilities for the next 10 years, but it’s still a gamer’s gadget (and a hardcore gamer’s gadget at that).
To grow beyond this point, a few things will need to happen.
VR will need to find a way to cross over from video gaming culture and embrace the breadth of digital entertainment options (i.e. movies, books, television programming).
This one shouldn’t be too hard to pull off in principle, but the experience would need to be worlds better than current 3D. Just think about the huge difference in noticeability of going from VHS to Blu-ray. It would have to be at least that good.
Also, as Oculus Rift executives have already acknowledged, VR hardware will need to become less bulky and more seamless to the user’s overall comfort level and experience.
Finally, all content providers — gaming companies, movie and television production studios — would need to climb on board in far greater numbers than they currently are.
EVE: Valkyrie looks incredible, but it isn’t going to sway the average family to join the VR revolution.
But what do you think, readers? Is VR poised to overtake television, and if so, how long do you think it will take?
[Image via Shutterstock]