We had been waiting for it for years, and it seemed that we could finally experience amazing experiences in all kinds of virtual worlds. The arrival of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive after years of promising prototypes augured a revolution, but only a year later we find a panorama in which that promise has been blurred.
The virtual reality experiences offered by developers and manufacturers are interesting, but the adoption of such peripherals has been limited. Neither Facebook (owner of Oculus) nor HTC have given data on sold units of their glasses, and Mark Zuckerberg himself cooled the mood this week and sent a clear message: we will have to have patience with the virtual reality.
Virtual reality makes you lose money
At the recent press conference in which Facebook presented its results, Zuckerberg spent a few moments talking about the company’s commitment to virtual reality. “We are somewhat behind schedule with regard to where we would like to be,” said the CEO of Facebook.
The success of the Oculus Rift has been resented, among other things, by the delays with Oculus Touch, the control controls for the hands that ended up making the proposal of the HTC Vive, with its serial drivers, more attractive for those who were looking for a more immersive alternative.
The creator of Facebook admitted that this delay had been “a disappointment” and added a unique fact: sales in the virtual reality segment will make this industry (at least in the case of Facebook and Oculus) “do not get benefits during A good season”.
To this news is added the recent sentence in the demand of ZeniMax against Oculus and, therefore, against Facebook. After years of litigation Facebook will have to pay a total of 500 million dollars to have been accused of stealing commercial secrets to ZeniMax. An important economic boom that will nevertheless have no impact on those responsible for Oculus, who have stated that “our commitment to the long-term success of virtual reality remains intact.”
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Too much hope in RV
Everything seemed to paint great for this segment, and the news did nothing but add expectations to a segment that created that inevitable “wow” effect when users experimented with these glasses the first few times.
The purchase of Oculus by Facebook made the virtual reality even more relevant, as did the fact that companies like Samsung also bet strongly for this segment with a virtual reality glasses (Gear VR) that were protagonists during the presentation of the past Samsung Galaxy S7.
Suddenly the market was the great hope for a good number of companies that as usual promised us the gold and the Moor. HTC surprised us with a Live truly complete, while Sony joined the group head with their PSVR glasses that took advantage of the PS4 to make something more accessible.
Many challenges to overcome
The high-end proposals have struggled with important obstacles for their adoption: the hardware requirements are important and the high cost of the glasses is added that of the update of the equipment to play. In the case of Sony PSVR the investment was smaller, but not insignificant.
At these prices he was joined by the fact that in all these options it is necessary to be physically connected to the PC or console on which that virtual reality experience is based. That makes everything more uncomfortable and daunting, although it seems that the next generation of high-end virtual reality glasses – at least in the case of the HTC Vive – will make the connection wireless.
That has made proposals much more affordable try to gain ground : Samsung’s economic glasses were the “Premium” version of the Google Cardboard – recently said they had sold 5 million units – but the boys from Mountain View soon became Realize that this had potential.
From there came Google DayDream View, a more refined version of their cardboard virtual reality glasses that technically provided some advantages to the experience. Being able to use the mobile to access contents and games of virtual reality and to facilitate the access to these experiences is the great bet of these alternatives.
None of these attempts has served to impel definitively a market that now faces a question. Without games or content that have become referents in the segment, virtual reality seems to have been left in a deadlock that is still unclear how it will be resolved. We will have to go to Zuckerberg’s advice: patience.