Virtual reality can bring faraway people together and take us places we can't physically go. That should make it the perfect breakout technology for both personal and professional life in the stay-at-home era — yet it remains a niche product.
There is a lot of talk about how the new Animal Crossing game is the perfect game at the perfect time, and that’s playing into it’s massive success. This is absolutely true, but you could also say that about VR.
VR is, you guessed it, not having a moment. In fact, while a stay-at-home-and-isolate-yourself pandemic has been going on that is prime time to have people lose themselves in other worlds for longer than normal, VR seems just as niche as it’s ever been. The only major push the medium has had in recent memory is the release of Half Life: Alyx, which moved a ton of headsets, but that’s really it.
It’s hard to think of a future where there’s nothing like VR available to the masses, so I have to imagine it will take off eventually, so what’s the hold up? Well…
I really think the technology is still:
- Too expensive
- Too complicated
- Looks too dumb
Headsets are still running $400-1,000, which is really pricey. There are some lower cost ones, but they are far worse and act more like tech demos than actual games you’d like to spend time in. Okay, you drop the cash on it and bring it home, now what?
Now you need to set up all these cables and sensors around your space to get the tracking right. Some sets have less set up than others, but there’s always going to be way more work to do than you average tech buy in 2020.
Oh, and the hardware still just looks really, really dumb. And I don’t mean dumb in just a fashion sense, I mean dumb in a “I can’t imagine wearing that chunky thing on my head for a second, let alone for hours in a game.”
I was more bullish on VR a few years ago, but it just never seems to be able to get any real momentum, and without massive technical improvements, I'm not sure I see that changing anytime soon.