2017 was the year the world expected VR to fully breakout and becoming a full mainstream sensation. With the release of high end VR headsets such as the HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR, as well as great entry level products like Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Daydream, it was expected that the adoption of VR would explode as a response to its impressive capabilities, present accessibility and the surrounding hype.
However it is safe to say that this year has not quite been the breakout year that VR expected it to be. One cannot deny that VR has been consistently experiencing growth in the past couple of years, with revenue from VR hardware and software increasing from $90 million in 2014 to $2.7 billion in 2016. However, projections expected 2016’s VR revenue to be over $1.1 billion higher than it actually ended up being, and 2017 is also on track to disappoint the expectations of the market.
While most VR hardware producers do not release sales numbers, research group CCS Insight estimates that a total 11 million virtual reality headsets were purchased in 2016, out of which only 1.2 million were dedicated VR devices for use with a PC or gaming consoles. Most of these are entry level smartphone devices such as Google Cardboard and Gear VR.
However, while VR may have had a slower start than most expected, it’s definitely not the time to discount VR yet. With some of the largest and most innovative companies in the world like Facebook, Google, Sony, Samsung and HTC betting big on VR becoming the next gaming and technological revolution, only a fool would bet against VR’s rise to the top.
VR stalls growth in iGaming
It’s not just videogames that have been affected by the slow start to the VR era. The iGaming industry, as the online casino gaming community is commonly referred to, has also seen the opportunity that VR allows them to provide their players with the ultimate gaming experience.
iGaming is severely overcrowded with operators, leading developers to seek constant innovation to survive in the cutthroat industry. While the slow adoption of VR has impacted their approach towards making a move to VR, developers like NetEnt have invested a substantial amount of capital in creating VR games that can give players the feeling of being in a realistic Vegas. While their VR games have been well received, it’s now expected it won’t be until 2020 when VR casino gaming will be in full swing and a key decision factor when players are making an online casino comparison to decide where to play.
What went wrong?
With VR having applications not only in entertainment but in education, military, engineering, real estate, and psychology amongst many other industries, how is it that its adoption managed to stall?
Studies have found that there are a number of factors that can be attributed to VR’s failure to meet projected figures so far. It’s been reported that Oculus has found itself in disarray in its transformation from start up to a large organization owned by Facebook. This resulted in many delays in its production and shipping of units, as well as their Touch controller not being released till December last year.
Another big factor has been the high price of PC based VR systems such as Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive, along with the requirement of an expensive high-end PC to support them, making people flock to cheaper Mobile VR alternatives instead.
But perhaps the most important factor is the lack of a true blockbuster hit that manages to entice mainstream users to finally make the leap to VR, a fact that is not lost on any of the big VR manufacturers.
How VR developers are moving forward
In order to solve the Rift’s lack of exciting titles, Facebook has decided to invest an additional $500 million on funding titles for the Oculus. To date, they have funded over 70 different titles, in an attempt to woo risk adverse developers that would otherwise be wary of investing their resources in a technology they still consider experimental. Just this past weekend Oculus announced MARVEL Powers United VR, a multiplayer game allowing players to inhabit some of their favorite characters from the Marvel universe.
Microsoft meanwhile is entering the fray by offering consumer affordable options to its $3000 Hololens. Developing several VR headsets for Windows 10 with inside out tracking that don’t require a pricey PC to run, they are finally accessing the VR enthusiast market and giving consumers more reasons to make the switch soon.
With HTC and Samsung also pouring money into VR and enlisting the help of indie game developers to create all sorts of interesting new titles, it won’t be long before the VR catalogue is impressive enough to manage to lure the non-believers. In fact, the latest numbers are projecting that VR will be a $75 billion industry in 2021, with 70 million headsets in the US alone.
When can we expect the VR revolution?
While VR has certainly struggled in its infancy, there is no denying that it will be the way of the future. Too many huge companies are betting billions on this technology to completely revolutionize our world. When it comes to gaming, it is the natural progression from the motion control boom of the last generation of consoles, albeit it exponentially more engaging and full of possibilities.
Many studies have shown that the delays VR has suffered doesn’t really put it back on their path to mainstream adoption more than a year later than expected, meaning that 2018 should be the breakout year for this technology. By all estimations, the 20s are set to be the virtual era of gaming.