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Is the success of Google Cardboard good or bad for the future of VR?

Our VR Mavens see strengths and weaknesses
Is the success of Google Cardboard good or bad for the future of VR?
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Over the years, PocketGamer.biz has set up several email groups of experts to discuss aspects of the mobile games industry.

Our general Mobile Mavens list continues from strength to strength, while more specialised groups debate the news as it relates to Monetization, Wearables, Indie Development and the rising Indian mobile scene.

And now, we're added Virtual Reality to the list as we reboot our VR Mavens group.

If you'd like to get involved, please drop me an email - jon-at -pocketgamer (dot} co.uk

As for our opening question, we asked

Given Google has announced 1 million sales of its Cardboard VR mounts, so...

Do you think this open source mobile-based DIY approach to VR can be real competition to 'proper VR'?

Or is Cardboard just winning the phoney war until Oculus Rift etc finally launch?

Barry Meade

Barry Meade

Commercial Director at Fireproof Games

Its [Cardboard's] popularity is double edged I think.

In one way, it's doing a lot of PR work telling the world about consumer level VR and why that might be cool.

A canonical cardboard version of Google Cardboard
A canonical cardboard version of Google Cardboard

But in other ways it can be dodgy. Giving people an inroad to VR is great but at the same time Google Cardboard is pretty much the weakest commercial VR experience anyone can have.

“If Cardboard becomes much more popular it may make it more difficult for VR to succeed.”
Barry Meade

The device is so lacking in technical sophistication compared to the competition that a developer can't design a game for, say, the Gear VR and hope to have it run or play well on Google Cardboard.

And finally there's the problem of our ever-expanding glut of 'standards' - one standard to develop to is great, multiple standards is a recipe for malaise and very slow progression.

On some level, if Google Cardboard becomes much more popular it may make it more difficult for VR to succeed, not less.

But I say all this with an admiration for the platform and for what the folks at Google are trying to do. Maybe more than anyone Google are trying to open VR to everybody, not just early adopter nerds like us, and you can't fault them for that.

E McNeill

E McNeill

Indie game designer

Google Cardboard should not be seen as competition to the Rift, Morpheus, Vive, or even the Gear VR.

“I've never had a comfortable experience with a Cardboard app.”
E McNeil

Over the last couple of years, we've started to see what features are necessary to achieve high-quality VR.

Low-persistence displays, low latency, consistently smooth framerate, and high-quality tracking are important, and Cardboard just can't deliver.

I've never had a comfortable experience with a Cardboard app, so it's very hard for me to take it seriously as a platform.

Cardboard is still an interesting product, but it doesn't have any pretensions to greatness. It knows its place. It's made of cardboard, it uses whatever smartphone you already own, and it doesn't include a headstrap.

This is meant to be a cheap product that you use for a few minutes at a time, at most. That's totally fine, but it's not going to play in the big leagues.

Tom Beardsmore

Tom Beardsmore

Creative Director at Coatsink Software

I think the Cardboard is great and it's really encouraging to see so many hardware sales.

A colourful foam version of Google Cardboard
A colourful foam version of Google Cardboard

The Cardboard is targetting a different (perhaps more casual) audience to what Oculus etc are targeting, but I'd imagine many of those users will convert to the more 'hardcore' devices if they have a good experience.

It's good news for all involved, in my opinion.

Stan Kuhn

Stan Kuhn

Founder at Live Game Board

I don't think Cardboard is winning the war as the war have not started yet.

Whether you try Cardboard, VROne, Gear VR or any other alike, you are going to find only demo or showcase content. There is no real commercial piece of experience worth to spend money for at the moment.

When the war will start, the question will be who is going to be able to monetise the content?

Samsung's Gear VR is currently the only Proper VR available but you can't yet pay for games
Samsung's Gear VR is currently the only Proper VR available but you can't yet pay for games

Will you pay for quality content worth money to view it on Cardboard or will you rather get proper VR e.g. Gear VR?

The quality of VR headset and the quality of content will most likely win.

However, Cardboard will definitely remain important as VR entry point for masses. VR is kind of experience you can read about several times but until you try it you won't understand how amazing it is.

Paul Colls

Paul Colls

Creative Director

“I don't believe that Cardboard is meant as a competitor to Proper VR.”
Paul Colls

Google seemingly agree with many of us, in that VR is finally going to make an impact. They clearly have an appetite for it and have some very clever people working in the VR space.

I don't believe that Cardboard is meant as a competitor to "Proper VR".

It's easy to be dismissive of Cardboard, but there's a bigger vision here. Cardboard is in the hands of over 1 million people/creators. I believe that exposure was certainly one of their goals, make no mistake there's method in the madness.

Jump looks like a very interesting prospect too; I suspect that they're looking to create some VR standards, in the hope that it's picked up by the majority of creators, which in turn may well see it adopted across a range of head mounted displays.

Will Jump usher in a new standard for content production?
Will Jump usher in a new standard for content production?

Initially Cardboard struck me as their way of dipping their toes in, but it's clearly becoming much more important than that. If they don't have something a little more substantial up their sleeves I would be very surprised.

Guy Ben-dov

Guy Ben-dov

Executive Vice President Business Development, HD games at Anzu

Low cost VR is an exciting and a very accessible proposition for mass market VR usage .

What is exciting about Google Cardboard being DIY and open source is that it allow business partners like Mattel and LG to create their own flavor of VR headsets quickly and in line with some industry standards.

Mattel's $30 View-Master will be Cardboard-compatiable
Mattel's $30 View-Master will be Cardboard-compatiable

These headsets provide a great solution for anyone who want to watch 360 pictures, movies and play short VR games at a cost of $20-30.

The Rift, Vive and Morpheus are high-end products that target gamers and businesses who need high fidelity VR.

Not everyone needs that quality or willing to pay the price.

Tomas Mariancik

Tomas Mariancik

Designer

We ran a pilot a while ago in Czech Republic using Cardboard in schools and have some experience and insights in that regard - in the following video.

yt