Do you have a VR peripheral of your own? Probably not, according to recent surveys. When the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive launched earlier this year, products were scarce. Shipments were delayed for months at a time. Not to mention the fact that brick and mortar stores simply did not carry them—making the prospect of driving out to pick one up impossible. When consumer adoption of VR was initially low, people attributed it to the low availability of the systems. “No one can get one, that’s why it’s not selling,” executives from Oculus and Valve have probably said at one point. Yet now that VR is more widely available (both in stores and online), VR adoption is at a greater standstill than ever before. Rift users dipped from a 0.3 percent growth of owners in July, to a mere 0.1 in August. The Vive grew a similar rate of 0.3 in July, to only remain flat among all of August. So what gives?
VR adoption is at a greater standstill than ever before
If I were to guess, the high cost of not only buying a VR entity, but having a VR-ready $1000-$1500 PC as well, are probably major factors driving people away from making the plunge to invest in VR. Also, at least in regards to the Vive, the owner has to account for having a room in their home dedicated as a room-scaled space. In essence, if you were to own anything VR, you’d have to be semi-wealthy (and not live in an apartment with minimal space, sorry city dwellers).
It also doesn’t help that there’s no jaw-dropping games or experiences for either piece of hardware yet (or at least none of the “I need to buy this right now” variety). Sure, there’s already a number of enjoyable, even great, games and VR-enabled films for VR, but none of them are enough to coax the more budget-cautious, not-as-tech-savvy consumers. Back when the Xbox One and Playstation 4 launched years ago, the Playstation 4 boasted a cheaper price and arguably more interesting exclusive games in the pipeline, whereas the Xbox One became plagued with bad PR (a stark contrast to their lead in the last console race).
It’ll be interesting to see these types of growth numbers after Playstation VR launches in October. The Sony VR add-on stands a real chance to be the most successful of current VR hardware—after all, it is only $399 (or around $800, considering the PS4 as the other necessary component), opposed to Rift’s $600 and Vive’s $800 (which doesn’t include the bonus cost of having a VR-ready PC). Playstation VR may be the least powerful of the Big Three, but it is the most cost-effective and user-friendly. Rather than building a hefty PC, a person merely has to buy an easy-to-use PS4 and plug-in the hardware. That ease of use—and public availability—might just be the recipe for success that VR needs to make it in the mainstream. That and, uh, having stronger games and experiences to show off the hardware. (Which, by all accounts, Playstation VR might just have the best launch batch of.)