Virtual Reality Skipped Again

As a customer, you’d expect virtual reality in console games simply because virtual reality is becoming a mature technology and it adds a big dash of fun to any game.

Unfortunately, all the three top console makers, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, don’t think so. At least not yet.

The annual gaming conference E3 saw presentations and announcements by these three companies and none of them had any virtual reality games for their audience. In fact, many people flocked to the Microsoft press conference in the hope that there will be some form of virtual reality based console, but there was not even a mention of any of it.

Well, if you had been following Microsoft’s announcement closely, this lack of virtual reality mention shouldn’t come as a surprise for you. Over the last few weeks Microsoft has been hinting that it will not dive into “mixed reality”. This is an umbrella term that Microsoft uses to describe both virtual and augmented reality experience.

If you’re wondering why, the answer is the economics. Last October, Sony released Playstation VR, a virtual reality headset that gives users of Playstation 4 a whole new user experience. This product is definitely not top of the line, but sits in the middle between the high-end products like HTV Vive and lower end products like Google Daydream.

However, a look at the sales numbers of Playstation VR shows that it didn’t sell as much as Sony would have expected. So far, the company has sold 55 million pieces, which roughly translates to about 1.8 percent of the overall target market.

These numbers go to show that not all customers want virtual reality in their games. On the contrary, it has attracted only a small percent of its target market, so it makes no economic sense for a company to invest heavily in virtual reality when the audience is not ready to use them.

This bring us to the next question – why are the audience not ready for a virtual reality console yet?

First off, its’ expensive. Companies spend a ton of money in research and implementation and this is passed to the customers in some way. For example, the Playstation VR headset costs a whopping $400, and this is almost the same price of a brand new PS4 Pro.

The other reason, at least, one given by Microsoft is that it is not that practical to use. It argues that a quality VR experience requires a hard-line connection between the home base and headset and this could be inconvenient, to say the least.

So, this is typically a chicken and egg dilemma that could take a few years to become more mature. Maybe that’s probably when it would make sense to introduce VR as a viable option for entertainment. Until then, all VR enthusiasts would have to wait. Or if you’re in a hurry, you can always buy the uber-expensive products available today that aim to give you the experience you want.

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