Virtual Reality became a reality over a year ago for the high-end gamers when the Oculus Rift was released on the 28th of March 2016 with a $599 price tag. Shortly its largest competitor, the HTC Vive was also released costing $799. There are a lot of similarities and a lot of differences with these two devices.
Has this really made VR-experience a reality for the masses of gamers?
The short answer is no.
Not many gamers can justify the price yet for these devices and the other hardware requirements to enjoy games and entertainment. In about a year the two headsets combined only sold nearly over 663.000 units(source: CCS Insight).
Is there a more affordable way to VR entertainment and gaming?
Actually, there is. Samsung Gear VR, powered by Oculus Rift and Google Daydream VR powered by Google. Samsung Gear VR's first version was released on the 27th of November 2015 way before Oculus Rift or HTC Vive for $99. However, because the headset uses your high-end Samsung smartphone as the display and processing unit also for some controls, the computing capacity is still limited compared to the other two. The selling of Gear VR proved a lot easier as more people had a high end Samsung phone than a $1000 plus computer. Also for a while a lot of compatible Samsung smartphones came with a Gear VR saving the buyer $99. It is no surprise how they have managed to outsell everyone on the market, selling an estimated 4.510.000 units worldwide.
One of the largest new players to the game, is PlayStation VR released on the 13th of October 2016, rapidly selling 915.000 units in less then six months. PSVR for short can be bought for your PlayStation 4, because around 54 million of these consoles are already in households and with the fact that PSVR only costs $400, the success is understandable. One of the new guys to this race is Google Daydream VR released on the November of 2016, the headset comes at a price of $79 and so far 260.000 have been sold. The main problem with this headset is that only 3 phones are supported at the moment, which means there are no backwards compatible devices. However I do strongly believe this will gain a huge market share in the future.
So what are the biggest reasons VR entertainment and gaming is not in the mainstream yet?
I mean there are more and less affordable solutions already, you no longer have to spend thousands of dollars to gain access. The lack of content is a big issue here, as of now there are no big names in VR gaming. Resident Evil 7 a recently released game for the PSVR, doubled the hours spent playing in a virtual reality environment. The problem with cables, they are unpopular for restricting your movement while playing and are often fragile. (There are devices and kits under development promising a wireless upgrade for current wired headsets but, these are not currently available.) Many developers are holding back from making big game titles for VR, due to the high cost of development and because of the lack of market, they are afraid that their investment will never turn into profit. This is the main reason why there are mainly shorter and smaller titles available on Steam's VR section for example. Developing for the mobile VR headsets is a cheaper solution, and the possibility of profit is much higher due to the larger market share.
So what can we expect for this year?
An estimated 16,7 million VR devices will be sold in 2017(ICCS Insight) making VR more and more mainstream. Facebook would have to spend $3 billion for a faster spread of the technology, Mark Zuckerberg stated. This year Facebook the owner of Oculus, is planning to spend $500 million on VR development. There are new devices to be excited about this year, Lenovo promised their VR headset for this year which should give the user a better experience for under $400. We'll see about that..
A forecast at CCS Insight also suggests that there will be 97,3 million VR devices sold in 2021, this is good news for the technology and industry. We can only hope that the prices go down and quality improves.
Check out two of our Games for Samsung Gear VR:
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