The once tiny VR market worldwide has accelerated to the point that it is forecasted to reach a solid size of $USD 6.5 billion ($AUD 8.45 billion) this year. Looking ahead another 3 years, we will be facing a massive $USD 40 billion ($AUD 52.2 billion) market to disrupt whole industries - larger than the current mobile gaming market. Not just local challenges can have an impact on that trend, also the global threats could lead to a decline of the demand for VR.
VR experts Scott O'Brien – Humense, Ursula Lane-Mullins – ACME Virtual, Eddie Cranswick – Relax VR, Lecky Lao – VR Corner, Michela Ledwidge – Mod Productions, Nathan Beattie – AVRN, Ben Wong and Charbel Zeaiter – AcademyXI, Adam Halley-Prinable – a VR Developer and Patrick Catanzariti – DevDiner gave some insights about threats for VR worldwide.
1. Fragmentation and Global Siloed Ecosystems
A global threat for the VR market is siloed ecosystems. Patrick gives an example: “If Oculus, HTC/Steam, Samsung, Google, Sony, Apple and others focus too much on having their own incompatible ecosystems of VR/AR experiences, I worry the whole industry will suffer. We need as many apps available for all platforms to ensure that people see adopting VR is worthwhile." Fragmentation of the market is seen as a trend not just regarding their hardware devices. "We see Oculus, Samsung, Google, HTC/Valve and OSVR with their own headsets, but all with different SDKs,” Ursula observed.
2. Playing it Safe
Furthermore, “playing it safe” could be a threat. Patrick believes that if "developers and the industry as a whole are sticking to basic 360° videos for instance, and are not using the great potential of VR to the full, the chances are high that consumer and companies get disappointed and VR will soon become just another passing phase."
3. VR as Niche Product and Not Enough Content with Longevity Worldwide
If VR companies are not able to create appealing experiences for prices that a large base of consumers and companies can afford, mass market adoption won’t be reachable and therewith the potential gets limited. Globally speaking “low sales volumes for headsets scare off investors,” says Michela.
VR headsets are in that regard still niche products with many experiences that are missing longevity. “Everyone is trying to push the hardware, but then you install a Google Daydream and there are not many VR apps out there. They need more people designing these experiences. It's really important that people start creating more content,” Adam stresses.
4. Strange (first) Experience
Also, for most people, especially if it’s their first VR experience, it still feels odd to attach a device on their forehead. This could change if the devices would be untethered, light and designed in a more common way, which is quite hard having in mind the complex technology that is integrated into these devices. Also, some people have complained about their well-being during the VR experience: “Motion sickness affects somewhere between 10% and 16% of people who use headsets and it varies wildly. So some people will feel a little bit sick”, Michela states.
5. AR and MR as competitors for the Virtual Reality Ecosystem
Another global threat for the VR market and its development will be the uprise of AR and MR. Although they are different technologies and their use cases can be different, they will be strong competitors for the attention of the users as well as for investor’s funding.
Only VR is fully immersive underlines Lecky. “From my perspective, gaming and entertainment industries are giving access to the general public – it’s more fun compared to AR. I see AR as important, but it’s more relevant for businesses and other purposes like buying furniture, but not much for entertainment”, he says and adds: “The biggest threat is that many people see AR as the future, then what will happen to VR? There's much uncertainty and then people wouldn’t invest and they will move on to AR".
How will the future of VR look like? VR is just in its early stages and far from being saturated. Therefore, if you are a first mover, chances are high that you are the first in that field and could dominate the market quickly. Find out about the future of VR, opportunities and what is still missing in VR industry.