Is VR Just Another Passing Fad?


From the cinnamon change to fidget spinners, Virtual Reality in gaming has not gotten too much attention ever since its release. The times that they are mentioned, however, tends to make VR seem more and more like a gimmick as opposed to a legitimate form of gaming.

Aside from the odd game now and then, I have not heard much about VR at all. This could, however, be because the most popular VR games are either combat oriented or horror games, both of which are not in my forte.

However, this does not seem to be just my thoughts, as 29% of people surveyed believe that VR is not sustainable, and only 17% expect to see VR headsets in a significant number of houses in less than five years. With the raging success of Oculus in 2012 when their Kickstarter project exceeded ten times that of what they initially asked for, one would expect that it would be more popular. Statistics have shown that only about 15% of gamers are even interested in obtaining a VR headset.

Which such a small outcome for these headsets, there isn’t too much reason for gamers to invest money into making games for it, unless they can be sure that they will get their money back in sales. So with all of the hype that VR had in the past few years, why are the sales not skyrocketing? Well, there are many reasons why.

One of these reasons is the high cost of the product itself. VR Headsets are sold for at least 400 dollars a piece. Many people cannot afford this price for something that is just an add-on for the hardware that can use it. These headsets can only be used with the PS4 and PC to date.

This means that you need to buy a PS4 or a high-end gaming PC just to be able to use this kind of headset. A PS4 itself is about 250 dollars used, and a high-end gaming PC can easily cost over 1000 dollars. Then you have to be able to afford a 400+ dollar headset.  Then, after that, do you need to purchase the games that can be played with it.

Gamers already spend a great deal of money by purchasing games and systems, so adding several hundred more dollars onto the list for what equates to an add-on will become a turn-off or many gamers who can’t afford it.

There is also the fact that not a lot of games utilize this hardware effectively. With almost 50 games that use the Oculus Rift, only about 10 games are exclusive to the hardware. The PS4 has a lot more exclusive games, but a lot of them seem to be sports games, or shovelware, not giving fans a legitimate reason to take the financial plunge.

However, despite the fact that many gamers are seemingly less and less interested in VR technology, that does not mean that it does not have other applications outside of gaming. For instance, The Washington Post recently reported about Olympic athletes who are utilizing VR technology to aid with their training.

According to Katie Stern, who is the general manager of the Games Developer Conference:

What we’re seeing in VR… is other applications, So we’re seeing it get more traction in things like training, or education-based things, healthcare has taken to it pretty well. So I think… we’ll see more growth in that area than we will in the entertainment and games spaces.

So while it seems that VR is not making as big of a gaming splash as many people were hoping for back in 2012, it does seem to have enough applications in order to stay alive. When it comes to this technology, we can probably expect its use in gaming to fissile out, but that does not mean that VR technology is dead by any means. You may even be able to see this technology in your classrooms soon.

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