VR - Is it really going to be a success? Or, thanks Time for starting a discussion!


Yes, the lenses in the current gen stuff are for exactly that purpose.


Vr technology does seem more invasive towards the eyes but I have no idea whether its harmfull or not. I suspect the brain jarring from tricking it all the time could have a worse effect over time.


Not the stereo effect, no - the lenses do. There are lenses between the screen and your eyes. The lenses in DK2 for example cause you to focus at normal rest focus distance, around 1.5 meters.




I know that many people are dismissing the “doesn’t look cool” argument but wider public perception will matter if all the recent investors (like Facebook) want to see a return on their investments at some point. The hardcore Elite:Dangerous and Star Citizen guys with powerful PCs are a niche within a niche. There needs to be a much larger consumer base. There is a lot of excitement now since journalists and bloggers are going to game conventions and trying on different VR setups and perfectly controlled demo environments with setups far beyond what any average household will ever have then writing up excited articles about revolutionary and transformative experiences. What they are experiencing is analogous to something you might find at a themepark, not something that is even remotely ready for average consumer buy-in. I think a large screen TV and a game console is already a luxury for the average American (or widely middle-class) household and the extra expenses for a VR setup that only one person can use at a time is wishful thinking at this juncture. I think wider acceptance is decades out (if that) and wider public perception will matter in the meantime if VR will ever become more than a tiny niche for excitable tech enthusiasts. Smartphones and tablets exploded since the tech is accessible, utilitarian, portable, and even ergonomic…current VR tech is none of that.



So many nerds. You want to know why VR will be so hugely successful and it won’t be in games?


How would you like to be able to instantly transport yourself to the seat 10 rows up from where the ball / puck / horse / car is at? How much do you think people will pay to have THAT seat in the house?

Then you have the advertisers that will make all the overlay all the local advertisements in the stadium with advertisements specifically tailored to you & your location.

That is why VR will be so successful. Don’t worry about games. While it was written for gaming, sports will take it over.


I’ve heard the sports/event spectator angle pushed for VR before and I still don’t think it’s going to happen. It still doesn’t overcome the basic issues that gaming VR has. It’s clunky and unwieldy. It’s expensive. It requires a lot of setup on the viewer side. It’s isolating. If it happens, it will be niche as hell.


I think the current round will be enough of a success to keep research and iteration rolling until it doesn’t look so dorky (i.e. an unobtrusive “google glass” type of thing that actually works - plus, of course, augmented reality, as said above, will be another fruit of it). Then the next phase of course will be “jacking in”, which is along a completely different technological path (which also seems to be developing apace).

With VR games per se, it seems clear that the only ones that will be successful are going to be games where you’re sitting in a cockpit (driving, flying, space, mechs, etc.), it seems to have too many negative effects for too many people for it to big in fps-es and the like, which is where one would really want it. However, it will be a big success in those genres and probably revitalize them.


But “wide public perception” changes all the time and once something gets used by more and more people it becomes “cool/acceptable” even if it wasn’t before (also look how big headsets have suddenly become “cool” again despite the fact that they kinda look stupid, at least everyone would have said so not so long ago).
You filter this whole “cool thing” through today’s perception, it’s like making judgement on the clothes of tomorrow. So many people wore and wear really silly stuff which is considered “cool” and these things change all the time.
It’s also quite a stretch to say that a large TV or a game console is considered luxury (and why would VR be so expensive, their prices in future are only going to drop and aren’t that expensive to begin with) and it’s pretty much madness to suggest a wider acceptance would take decades. It’s just two decades ago that most people didn’t even really know what the internet is and look how it dominates our world today, in our private life and the business world. I’m not saying that VR will have a similar impact, I’m simply pointing out that tech in our modern society doesn’t take very long to be “accepted” and the speed of such acceptance is actually increasing (the jump from rather simple mobile phones to smartphones happened really fast).


Just like the early brick cordless phones, wearing big cans on your head wasn’t dorky when they first came out. They were cool. Hooking up a set of headphones to your stereo record player to listen to some R&B or rock wasn’t nerdy at all. Initially, they were the territory of audiophiles and people willing to spend a lot on a bitchin’ HiFi system, but they eventually became commonplace. As the style and fashion of the era progressed, people moved on to smaller headphones (thanks to the Walkman) until we got to earbuds. Recently, we’ve gone back to bigger headphones, but that was inevitable due to the way fashion cycles back every 30 years or so.

In contrast, VR headsets are dorky right from the start. They’ve never looked cool. They’re certainly not a consideration in the fashion world.


Yes, we like to watch sports together. Three of us sitting in a room to watch the game with VR goggles on isn’t likely to happen – it’s anti-social. Also, if I spend a lot on a nice TV I want to watch that nice TV, not ignore it. I guess I could go with the cheap TV and the expensive VR setup, but that seems isolating rather than inclusive. Why not spend the money on something for the whole family?

Also, as a bit of a canary in the coal mine, Vizio stopped making those TVs that require you to wear goofy glasses, the 3D TVs. That doesn’t bode well for living room goggle-wearing.


All fair points.

While personal technology has generally advanced at a rapid pace in the last three decades you are pointing out the successes like the internet or smartphones. You could also have mentioned 3D TVs, Smart TVs, PS Move, Kinect, Netbooks, Game Streaming services, etc. For every widely adopted technology there are several dozen that stopped advancing, never had a chance of cracking into the market of wider acceptance, or were superseded by a competing tech (the way smartphones killed the digital camera market save for high-end DSLRs). We also need to look at the purpose/intentions of the tech or what problems the given tech is trying to solve. I really don’t think the VR makers have presented a strong narrative yet, or exactly what problems they are trying to solve (for the average consumer). I can see VR making inroads with the medical profession (surgeons) or the military (drone operators) but even there I don’t see those sectors buying the goggles en masse.



Does the TIME cover make VR look ridiculous and set back public perception of the technology at least a decade? Absolutely. Thanks TIME, you suck.

Image problem aside (no pun intended), VR isn’t going away anytime soon. While successfully selling VR videogames may be a difficult prospect given current technology levels and a general sense of dismissal among the gaming community (“oh look, it’s the Nintendo Powerglove all over again!”), VR tech is exploding in the medical, engineering and educational industries among others. Advancements will continue to be made to fill the needs of those sectors, and those advancements will be incorporated into consumer VR in due time. The technology will become smaller and lighter, possibly even moving away from devices strapped to your face in favor of a more all-encompassing experience. But that is all years, possibly decades away, and it still won’t sell VR to the average person.

It’s my belief that what will finally sell the average consumer on VR isn’t lighter/faster/better technology or super amazing games, though both will play a part. What will finally bring VR to the masses is the same thing that finally brought computers to the masses, community. Everyone says VR is an inherently anti-social activity. Sure, if all you do is stand there looking at train station demos or play single-player space freighter pilot games all day. But think about why there is a computer in nearly every home right now…it’s because of email, the internet, real-time information gathering, Facebook, instant messaging, etc., all the things that bring a sense of community to people even when they are sitting alone in their kitchen at 2AM. Think about the kind of magic that could happen with consumer VR if companies like Facebook and Blizzard teamed up to create virtual worlds where you, through your customizable avatar, could meet up with all your friends (represented by their customizable avatars) and just shoot the shit while sitting in a virtual park, or a virtual space port bar on a distant planet, or a virtual sporting event that was broadcasting real time as an actual live event (say a World Cup match) played out. No games, just hooking up in virtual space to hang out, just like we do every day right now through message boards, Facebook, Instagram, emails, texts : except instead of typing and clicking away by ourselves staring at the screen waiting for the response, it would be real time face-to-virtual-face. That alone would sell.


Which is why Second Life is the most successful software company of all time.

(Obviously, there are significant differences between the offerings, but they way you described it…)


When you say VR is exploding in educational industries what does that mean? The American educational system is seriously underfunded and even now the U.S. has trouble making basic desktops or laptops available to students from K-Higher Ed. I don’t mean to be dismissive at all I just wonder where the funding is coming from or projected to come from.



I havent seen that anywhere either, nor heard anyone talking about VR in these areas as exploding.


AFAIK VR is being used in some very limited areas in medicine and engineering, but it’s not at all out of the testing/prototype phase. It’s more proof-of-concept stuff. Not to say that it won’t eventually have practical, everyday uses in those fields, but it’s going to be a while.

Even in those uses, it faces much of the same issues we’ve already discussed. Obviously, looking dorky isn’t a concern, but all the other VR drawbacks are. On top of that, because VR tech is so young and not stabilized, no one is willing to really use it in anything other than test environments with redundant work using traditional methods.


Excellent point. Remember videophones? Every sci-fi movie/book imagined everyone using one in the future (in fact, funnily enough, most of them still do). Well, the future is here, and people still won’t use videophones, and it was not for lack of trying.

Of course, the next iteration of videophones might be successful, since recent changes in culture are progressively downplaying the importance of privacy and enhancing the social pressure for exhibitionism (in the behavioral sense, not the mental condition). So, the Youtube/selfie generation might actually “buy” the idea of videophones and it’s gonna be a thing.

Now, back to VR. Until it’s unobtrusive and inexpensive, it will remain strong only in certain niches (certain kinds of entertainment, drone control, etc.). The current iteration is a very important step, however, and it may revolutionize some niches, but VR will not a big deal/mass thing until the 2nd or 3rd iteration from now, where AR will be not only technically feasible, but actually expected from a cultural standpoint.


People chat over webcams/skype/etc all the time, that’s basically a video phone.


Hmmm, not quite. When you think of “making a call to someone”, you don’t think about video by default (not even if you use Skype regularly). When 80% of all calls are videocalls (either on phones or computers or over the Internet), then we’ll have the idealized videophone coming true. And while that’s not the case (yet), it’s about to be.