It’s been a pile-on kind of season. First Superdata called VR the “biggest loser” of the Christmas holiday buying rush, and now The New York Times has declared that “it is time for a reality check for virtual reality.”
“Sales of the most capable headsets have been sluggish by most estimates, held back by high costs, a lack of must-have content, and the complexity and awkwardness of the products,” argues The Gray Lady in a piece online and in print today, citing multiple analysts calling the VR market a “long slog” hampered by “unrealistic expectations” now in idling in the trough of disillusionment part of the tech hype cycle.
On the flipside, Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney sat for a massive interview over at Glixel, where in addition to prophesying on the future of the metaverse and teleportation and fake news, he takes time to dish a bit on virtual reality, saying that VR sales are “pretty much what we expected.”
“The very first year of the personal computer revolution, when the Apple II shipped, there were 23,000 computers sold. I think VR is going to build up similarly slowly, starting with this early adopter, hardcore gamer base. It’s going to be nurtured there for years before it goes really mainstream. […] I think the market will grow by a factor of two or three or four, every year, until it goes from this current 500,000 to 200 million.”
He argues that the “helmet version” of VR is for serious users, anticipating only 200M people worldwide willing to strap into that device. The mainstream product, he says, is sunglasses VR or bust. He also notes that while mobile VR is selling more units, more profit is being made on console and PC VR right now, a statement echoed by The Times but one that provides intriguing contrast with developer Dean Hall’s comments in December that VR games simply aren’t profitable at all.