“The VR Opportunity” was a forum at the Mobile World Congress this week in Barcelona centered on how Virtual Reality will evolve in the marketplace. This is a topic I like to discuss, and I am in the camp that feels gaming will lead the early adoption phase but within just a few years the market will consist mostly of interactive non-gaming entertainment “experiences”. A report by iDigitalTimes revealed that current industry experts are unsurprisingly divided on how they expect the industry to evolve.
One executive at the forum felt that gaming companies are in the best position to leverage their brands and gaming is what will grow VR while anther executive stated cinematic entertainment is what will mostly drive industry expansion. Many mobile companies see cell phones playing a large role in VR adoption while the CEO of Avegant states the future of VR is in retinal displays that shoot light directly onto a person’s retina.
My personal opinion is that gaming will drive the industry at first. This is because gamers are the consumer base willing to pay the high prices for early tech adoption. And, right now, it is still too expensive for the casual consumer to invest in such a novelty item. Additionally, many in the gaming community will already have some of the necessary parts needed to invest in VR experiences such as the faster GPUs and processors required. Even if they were to upgrade, it can be rationalized as an upgrade they would eventually be doing anyway.
Phones will help the casual consumer get into VR because of the smaller barrier to entry. The Gear VR is very impressive and it’s pretty cheap if you already have the required Samsung Galaxy or Note phone. You do not need to purchase any more processing power than the phone, and the VR headset is only $99. You can also use the Gear VR without wires and without a messy set up, adding to the ease of use for a casual VR user.
However, as the adoption grows, it will be all of the other non-gaming VR experiences that capture the attention of the casual user. This will include, the movies, shows, social experiences, music videos, simulations, meditative experiences, etc. In my opinion, the VR experience by itself has such a wow factor right now when you initially use it that you do not need the experience to be too intense. In fact, you probably do not even want the experience to be too intense because it will be jarring. You need the movement to be slower, you need less to focus on, you need less to do. You still want the VR experience to be interactive but this means that most VR experiences are better when they require more passivity. This allows the user to focus more on enjoying the experience through exploring the new world they are surrounded by. This is where I see the future of mass VR adoption.