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Virtual reality forecast to reach 10.6 million people by 2016

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Welcome to the future everyone, virtual reality is a, um, reality. According to SuperData’s research, the total market for these new devices will reach 10.6 million consumers by 2016. I can’t imagine that I’ll be one of them considering current pricing models, but who knows what the future may hold.

It’s not just about Facebook’s acquisition of the Oculus Rift; another 18 VR-focused companies received $590 million in investment. According to SuperData’s CEO Joost van Dreunen’s comment in an email that I’m about to copy and paste for your reading pleasure, we should start seeing devices pretty soon:

Facebook has effectively revitalized the decades-old dream of virtual reality and triggered a frenzy of investments. Currently there are over 200 developers working on VR projects and we counted no less than 15 different hardware devices at varying stages of completion. We anticipate a first wave of PC-based devices to launch mid-2015.
[…] Traditional publishers of interactive entertainment simply cannot afford to just jump in at such an early stage of a new platform. It is financially far too risky for them. Small studios and independents, however, have an opportunity to make a name for themselves. The question everyone is looking to answer is “Who will be the Angry Birds for virtual reality devices?”

Full-length video is still a few years away, so all this VR investment is geared towards game studios to provide the actual content that will make the new platform viable. With everyone from Facebook’s Oculus Rift to Sony’s Project Morpheus, as well as Microsoft, Apple and Google jumping on the bandwagon, it’s a race to see who finds the magical use for the device that makes it a must have. Google has even announced a partnership with Mattel in the hopes of making VR a reality for children; that creeps me out no end, but I suppose it’s best to grab the market while they’re young.

10.6 million consumers isn’t really all that much; that’s about the install base of just one of the new generation consoles. Still, as a luxury peripheral, that’s pretty ambitious. Then again, with all the money being thrown at the technology, it makes sense that prices will come down and we’ll see massive uptake. Maybe. I still just don’t see the appeal of VR headsets, but maybe once I strap one to my head and don’t feel sick, I’ll be convinced.

Last Updated: February 20, 2015

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