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Virtual Reality Isn't Really Going to Happen

There’s this heat that’s been building, that the current VR revolution isn’t going to fizzle out like the 90s one. Granted now that Oculus has been purchased by Facebook I’m sure more people are going to actually get involved in VR than previously would have. However, I think I can lay out a few reasons why the future isn’t going to just be all of us doing VR stuff all day, watching news and feeds from satellites in space and live events-just like we’re there.

First though let’s talk about what the big VR experience is always thought to be. Not the simple “playing a game on a headset” but a game that is designed for it, and is actually good. Whether we ever really get into the “is this real” thing might always be up in the air, but in the world of games we’re looking for VR to become an actual resource created for with content that only works there and that attracts an audience and money.


The littlest things can pull you out of the experience

This is probably one of the more important points. You can imagine them getting graphical quality really high but little things are going to constantly remind you you’re just playing.

While different people will be affected by this in different ways it could end up being a big problem. Trying to cool these problems would cost a lot of money and end up making creating these experiences cost prohibitive. Rising costs are one of the big reasons so many studios went out of business in the last decade or so.

Oh and now the game actually needs to be fun

Yeah, a super expensive production cycle to make this game that you actually disappear into. Your first instinct is probably going to be to make it really fun. But this might be a bit more difficult than you think. At the moment people are seemingly starting to make fun VR game, and they show off terribly.


A big reason why games are a major business now is that they fit into the modern media lexicon so well. Images and sound, stories, they can be turned into trailers basically and you just have to see the trailer to get interested in a title and share it online with friends. VR demos don’t really work that way. It’s like a guy making the game talking to another guy while a man in a Rift fumbles around in a chair for 10 minutes and 2 images are posted on a giant screen behind them.

Well we have a fun game, we have a fun demo...

Now everyone gets sick. Yeah, the market for this experience is shrinking by the minute. Virtual reality sickness is a major problem in these systems moving forward to the extent that when Valve said they had somehow solved the problem it became a really big deal. However, and this is the big one, can they really solve the problem. Is it so much that the sickness(which is a real possibility) is the problem or that people won’t adopt VR because their fear of the glasses being a $600+ paperweight/conversation-starter?


This hurts all these other applications as well. People talk about VR like we’ll be watching news through it and watching concerts. But I don’t actually watch the news I just collect a feed off the internet. I also kind of hate concert videos. I like to just listen to music in the background, you know, like while you actually talk to people at a party.

We’ll just have to make a game for the people who want it

Yeah, that’s the thing. As you see this market shrink and shrink based on needing powerful and expensive hardware or the problems with sickness suddenly it’s not going to be this VR we imagined in our heads. People are going to be playing Team Fortress in VR though, don’t worry. But will we ever see VR really become it’s own gaming space beyond a sort of oddity?


Then our game will just be that good

Yeah, again...hmmm. The NES kicked off because of Mario, it sort of explained pretty well what made it unique compared to other systems at the time. But the brains at Nintendo cheated. They sold people a toy that just so happened to be the most important videogame ever. I think that’s where VR is going.


We won’t see the VR revolution really take hold any time soon. It’s going to be later, like years and years from now, when the units are cheap enough and don’t require extra parts like a computer tower. Once people have done a good job of actually making VR something that doesn’t make people sick and that enough people have. Then we’ll see someone actually make a really great game, based on not just good game design but a “right place at the right time” situation as well.

This seems to be saying it’s sort of doesn’t matter if a game itself is good

So yeah, we are going to see VR gaming take off, someday. But not now, and probably never the way we imagined. So can scientists please go back to working on self-driving cars? Over 30,000 people die every year from car crashes in the US.


Not that I’m saying people shouldn’t make VR games or by VR units. Let’s just admit to ourselves at this moment we’re not going to land in this amazing VR future where for the next 20 years VR becomes the dominant gaming scene. Later it might, but still probably not.

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