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August 2015 Retro Gaming Article


August 6, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

As the Net claims Time Magazine has killed VR, we wonder if anyone will care by Christmas

Time Magazine's cover story on Virtual Reality When I saw the Time Magazine cover photo for their Virtual Reality story, I had to chuckle. The barefoot guy floating around the beach seemed like an odd visual to capture the looming success of VR technology.

I don't really follow the players in the VR race-toward-public-acceptance. I've seen VR come and go several times in the last 20 years. Upon closer examination, the guy floating over the beach is none other than Oculus founder Palmer Luckey! Thus the Internet has exploded with folks saying "Time Magazine has killed VR!"

I'm fairly certain Time Magazine doesn't have the ability to determine the fate of Virtual Reality, but it does bring up an interesting point in terms of perception. Public perception will be an important component to consumer acceptance of VR. If the public thinks it's a joke, they won't spend their money on it.

Format Wars Confuse Consumers

I've said for quite some time that compatibility is a major area that needs to be addressed. Each time the tech sector thinks VR is going to gain traction and be a part of daily life, 10 companies come along with 1o different product that do things in a proprietary manner.

Remember when DVD HD and Blu-ray came out together? Consumers weren't sure how it differed from the standard DVD and retailers were displaying all 3 formats on their shelves. That was only TWO new products! So what will the public think of the myriad of VR headsets aiming to burst out during the holiday shopping season? And if VR is so great, why does it depend on being part of the holiday shopping scene?

Virtual Reality If I own a PS4 should I buy Sony's VR product. Many have heard of Oculus, but they own Windows PCs... so maybe they should buy the Microsoft product. There are too many players trying to grab a very limited market-share full of people who may discover they own a Betamax when all the good stuff is on VHS. Format wars are a problem that needs to be resolved.

Let's face it - no one looks cool bobbing around with a VR headset over their face. And how comfortable are these devices over long time frames?

Nintendo solved the 3D glasses quandary by building their 3D effect into the screen of the 3DS. Folks thought it was nifty and promptly turned the 3D feature off. I find it laughable that anyone thinks a consumer will buy VR in great enough quantity to make it viable in the public sector.

What Problem Does VR Solve?

And what about the "why" factor? Why do I need VR? What will it do for me? It seems like high-level tech and gamers are the market. That's great, but I doubt the average gamer wants a shoe-box strapped to their head for any length of time. To become a sustainable product, VR must solve a problem common to the majority. It can't be a luxury gaming accessory. It has to save me time, solve a problem in my life, or do something that's insanely helpful. It can't be sold simply because manufacturers say it's the next big thing.

I feel we're ramping up for the next big rollout of a technology no one needs. Apple Computer seems pretty savvy about what consumers want. Steve Jobs claim to fame was developing products to solve problems people didn't even know they had. And he was very successful with his creations.

Say, is Apple making a VR headset? I didn't think so. Oh... one more thing. The world has gone mad. We live in crazy times. How would I feel with a giant box over my face that limited my external senses? Vulnerable!

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