VR was going to be the next big thing, but it never happened. The cost has become prohibitive, the “essential” software is limited. And with the announcement of the Meta Quest Pro, it seems like the best is increasingly out of reach. It’s not good.
This technology doesn’t come cheap, and the Quest Pro isn’t aimed at your average gamer. But that’s not a good look for a sector of industry that has been on the edge greatness for a decade.
You don’t break into the mass market by making your product something people reach for. You do this by making it profitable, by making it widely compatible and easily accessible – you do it by making it unavoidable.
And my concern with the Quest Pro – and with all the recent VR announcements – is that none of them are essential. PlayStation VR 2 looks awesome. But am I going to miss something very important without it? No. And Sony will probably keep it that way until the market becomes so saturated that, say, The Last of Us 3 can only be played with headphones.
Until then, it’s a distraction. Until then, it’s fun, maybe even great, but never essential.
I remember reading articles around 2010 about the possibility of buying a ticket for a concert and sitting in the front row from home. The idea of sitting in a movie theater with friends also came up a lot.
Virtual reality has not yet penetrated to this point. And if there isn’t a cheap way to get in there, and good reasons to get in there, there never will be.
The problem is that the price is going the wrong way. The problem is that apparently every player in the game wants their own walled garden, and so compatibility isn’t always guaranteed.
A VR comparison
Let’s look at a technological achievement. VHS wasn’t cheap when it came out in the 70s. In 1977 it cost as much as $1,400 (nearly $7,000 in today’s money). In the mid-80s, it was the much more affordable $200 (still $500 and up today). In the 90s, you could get a cheap model for $100.
In just 13 years, the technology has become more than 10 times cheaper and has also improved rapidly.
Same with DVDs. Original players cost $1,000. They could be had for $50 a decade later.
VR has not followed suit. It’s more expensive than before. The increased cost was passed on to the consumer as technology improved.
PlayStation VR was $399 at launch. You can get it very cheaply now, usually from thrift stores. Which is a bit gross after a pandemic, but if you want to get in you can without too much trouble.
But you can only play what’s already released on PlayStation. The tracking device will not be backward compatible.
PlayStation VR 2 cost predictions range from $299 to $550. And you can bet it will fall somewhere in the middle – around $400-500.
He got better. The cost will likely increase. People already sold on the brand will rush to buy it. The rest of us will wait. And wait. We’ll keep waiting until it’s no longer a flight of fancy for tech heads, but as necessary for gaming as VHS and DVD players were for movie buffs. The market needs no less than that.