Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The State of VR

The State of VR

Oculus Rift is clearly experiencing trouble selling their headset. In May they had to shut down their Film Studio and they've slashed the price of their headset several times.

Is this a clear sign that VR is a failure?
I don't think so.

I am bullish on VR. It is not an if but a when. It is the when that is the issue.

Processing Power Limitations
I think the problem is we don't have the processing power or appropriate pricing of that hardware for VR to become mainstream. To render each eye at 90 frames per second and deliver a AAA game experience is impossible with today's hardware. I have struggled with this a lot in my game design. I have taken the route of allowing the game to automatically adjust scene complexity based on frame rate. The result is little to no stutter but the visuals can't come close to approaching Destiny.

Similarities to Tablets
When Tablets first hit the scene, the size of the screen was small, the interface was clunky and the processing power was not up to the task. Now everyone has a tablet. Technology and Software have arrived to allow us to have a powerful touch computer in our hands. VR is in a similar state. The hardware just isn't there and it is probably 10 years down the road before cheap fast hardware is available.

Saturated Market
VR at this point is pretty saturated for what it can deliver. Because of hardware limitations it feels less like a gaming platform and more like a gimmick like the wii. Once you become accustomed to it, you find most experiences shallow and don't stack up to AAA titles.

In the next few years we are likely going to see VR stagnate. This will continue until hardware becomes powerful enough

Standing vs Sitting
One of the other problems with VR you need to stand for an immersive experience. This has already been done 3 times: wii, xbox and playstation. I think people are tired of setting up sensor bars and getting off the couch. You need to have a very compelling reason to get people off the couch and current VR hardware and software are not cutting it.

All of this sounds pretty dire but I think this is good for VR developers who are in it for the long term. I do this as a hobby and don't have to worry about making money from VR. I can build the type of experience I want and know it will be unique because there is little competition in this space.


  1. Not quite on topic, since SteamVR/OpenVR now works in linux with the vive at least as well as UDK and Unity also can compile to linux, have you thought about looking into working on the linux side more ?

  2. Sean I would like to make a MAME cabinet from your rendering of the "Ready Player One" arcade cabinet. Any chance I can get some of your technical drawings from the cabinet and artwork?