Virtual Reality install base to hit 70 million in 2017

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VR

Virtual Reality is the great, hulking next big thing on the horizon. If you listen to everybody that’s sipping the VR kool-aid, Virtual Reality is going to transform the way we play our games, and not only that, change our lives. The first real, gaming-focused one to see a one to see a proper retail release, HTC and Valve’s Vive goes on limited sale this year – with the progenitors of the current craze, Oculus, and Sony’s own PlayStation VR playing catch up next year.

Many gaming publishers are a little hesitant, with giants like Take-Two interactive and Electronic arts taking a measure, “wait and see” approach.

“There’s some challenges still and I think the biggest challenge is just the size of the market,” EA CFO Jorgensen said. “We don’t make games anymore for the Wii or the Wii U because the market is not big enough. The PS Vita—the Sony product—we don’t make games for that anymore because the market is too small, so it’s all about the size of the market.”

Could they be missing out on a big opportunity? According to the usually reliable SuperData, the install base for VR could be as high as 70 million users by the end of 2017. Their report was spurred by the recent release of Samsung’s Gear VR – so the 70 million tally includes VR headsets that pair with phones, which won’t run the latest and greatest in AAA VR video games.

“Initially, affordable smartphone devices will drive the bulk of sales as consumers first explore virtual reality before committing to the more expensive platforms,” SuperData Director of Research Stephanie Llamas said.

“After this first wave, however, it will be especially console gamers that will spur growth of high-end VR devices.”

According to SuperData, 31% of US PlayStation 4 owners intend to buy the PlayStation VR, and 18% of PC gamers are keen on the Rift. Is that enough to make VR gaming the future? I’m not convinced.

“Some AAA game makers like Electronic Arts are waiting for hard data on the consumer adoption of VR before investing in development. However, several notable publishers like CCP, which recently raised $30 million, are willing to take the initial leap in hopes of a gaining a first-mover advantage,” according to Llamas.

“It’s a sound strategy. By supporting the right headsets off the bat, many publishers will outpace future newcomers for a long time by showing unconditional dedication to serving VR consumers. But despite its demand-side enthusiasm, the consumer will be the ultimate judge on whether VR’s time has come.”

I was a big VR sceptic, until I went eyeballs on with them – and I’m convinced that the new headsets will give us incredible experiences. I am, however, not convinced that the tech will take over the world. With a high price, and worries that the tech will be underutilised, many consumers are staying very far away.

Last Updated: November 23, 2015

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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