Virtual reality’s struggle to vanquish competition

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Once upon a time, when thinking of virtual reality, it almost appeared as a futuristic concept that will revolutionise technology. However, now it is here, virtual reality is not selling as well as expected and things are looking pretty bleak.


Fresh figures of VR related sales have almost stagnated in the past two months, showing little to no growth since July. The sales of fellow new technology are performing a lot better than that of VR. But what is it about VR that is failing?


Too expensive


The price of VR is discouraging a lot of people from getting on board, along with the costs of the headset and the equipment to run it put the price from $1,500-2,000 dollars a pop. This is of course extremely pricey, particularly in comparison to regular games consoles.


Not enough games, No profitability for developers

Whilst there are a host of great games out there, the system movers appear almost demo-esque and let the overall quality of the games is poor. There is not yet any financial incentive for existing games and even gaming websites to convert their content to be VR friendly.


With no mass audience, gaming sites like  and existing console games like Grand Theft Auto 5 won’t make the necessary changes to complete the full VR immersive experience. As such, consumers will see no real value other than playing their existing games through goggles instead of looking at a monitor or TV.


There is one exception to lack of quality VR games though: Battle dome. This revolves around an arena shooter with the sole objective to destroy a giant sphere in the opponent’s spawn area. The game has received rave reviews from gamers and critics alike and may be the breakthrough that VR needs, if other games follow suit, VR may finally take off.


The damning stats


Though, Battle dome or no Battle dome, VR still has a long way to go. The amount of HTC Hive owners grew just 0.3% in July and sales were completely flat in August.


The Oculus Rift experienced similar abysmal sales, with owners growing just 0.3% in July and 0.1% in August. Even worldwide gaming platform Steam is struggling to bolster their sales.


Just 0.18% of Steam users own a HTC Hive headset, with 0.1% of users owning an Oculus Rift. Thus, just 0.28% of Steam users own one of the VR headsets. And with over 125 million gamers on Steam, that statistic does not bode well. Out of the 125 million, only 450,000 users own one of the VR headsets, with only 12,500 added in the last two months.

The lack of growth in the number of VR headset users is particularly worrying as July and August was the one period were VR became freely available to buy, but no-one seemed bothered. And in September, still, no-one seems to care. Though experts aren’t worried as they predict that Virtual and Augmented Reality will fetch approximately $162 billion in revenue by 2020. Critics have understandably scoffed at that figure as currently, it’s unclear how we’ll get that to that point.

Forecasted at just $399, the Play Station VR may attract more users, though Sony are unclear on the actual demand for VR. Oculus must also build an appropriate platform if they are to attract users. VR is a long awaited concept and people must be convinced to buy it, otherwise this will be a very long rut to be stuck in.

VR developers need not worry too much, though. The adoption rates may be agonizingly slow, but with technological, digital and social revolutions, adoptions rates generally are slow. The smartphone took eight years to reach an adoption rate of 10%, and now, they are all around us. Similarly, TV and radio took around eight years to reach an adoption rate. It may be a slow process but with perseverance VR can live up to its lofty expectations.