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Through the looking glass: PocketGamer.biz debates the future of VR

Through the looking glass: PocketGamer.biz debates the future of VR

We've known about Google Glass, Oculus and Morpheus for over a year now, but it was announcement of Samsung's Note 4-powered hybrid Gear VR headset that kicked off the debate in the PocketGamer.biz Skype window.

Maybe it was the muscle of a company like Samsung getting involved.

Maybe it was the rush of developer support - ranging from DeNA to Imangi and ustwo.

Anyhow, a heated debate ensured about whether VR could ever become more than a niche technology.

We thought it deserved a wider audience....

Jon Jordan Contributing Editor A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

Have you seen this announcement from Samsung?

It's just announced Gear VR, a VR headset using its Note 4 tablet.

Samsung Gear VR

Chris James CEO A footy game fanatic and experienced editor of numerous computing and game titles, lively Chris is up for anything - including running Steel Media! (Madman!)

Wow.
That's VERY interesting.
Huge

Jon Jordan Contributing Editor A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

Really? I'm not sure.
It could be 3D TVs all over again.

Keith Andrew With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

VR is still dead in the water.
Great prospect, no real delivery.
As long as you have to isolate yourself to use it, it's running in the exact opposite direction of what people actually want.

Spanner Spencer Yes. Spanner's his real name. And, yes, he's heard that joke before.

Looks just like that Dive headset I've got.

The Dive headset

Works surprisingly well with an S4, so I imagine a Note 4 will work even better.
All comes down to the games and apps in the end, I guess.

Keith Andrew With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

As pants as Google Glass is, that's a better direction for any kind of in-vision wearable. As long as VR blocks out the real world, it'll always be a niche thing.
Because at the end of the day, no-one wants to strap on a pair of goggles in order to play a game.

Chris James CEO A footy game fanatic and experienced editor of numerous computing and game titles, lively Chris is up for anything - including running Steel Media! (Madman!)

You think people don't want to isolate themselves?
And communicate via digital media?
That does run contrary with my experience.

Spanner Spencer Yes. Spanner's his real name. And, yes, he's heard that joke before.

I wonder if something like Samsung's can make use of the Note's camera, so you can "see" through the headset.

Keith Andrew With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

I think that even games we would have typically thought as "solo" experiences are opening up to the social side of gaming. Even The Last of Us  allowed people to tweet photos and so forth.

People want to share these experiences now and that's where the whole industry is going. Blocking yourself off by wearing a headset that means you can't even communicate if someone asks if you want a cup of tea is just not a realistic mass-market prospect. It's not something people have any desire for in the home.

Chris James CEO A footy game fanatic and experienced editor of numerous computing and game titles, lively Chris is up for anything - including running Steel Media! (Madman!)

I think 3D TV is totally different
The experience wasn't that great
It wasn't a leap forward
It was the same sort of thing, with a bit of a blurry sort of 3D effect
There's no real compelling reason to use Smart TVs for apps, etc yet
But I don't think it's the same for VR
This isn't to say that VR from Samsung will work

Keith Andrew With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

The tech for VR headsets has been running at trade shows for over 2 years now. It works. It's impressive.
But how or why would you actually use it in a day-to-day setting?

Chris James CEO A footy game fanatic and experienced editor of numerous computing and game titles, lively Chris is up for anything - including running Steel Media! (Madman!)

You'd use it to play games
I did at Gamescom, pretty much for 1.5 hours
It was phenomenal

Keith Andrew With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

At a trade show
And you're not an average consumer
None of us here are representative of the mass market.

Chris James CEO A footy game fanatic and experienced editor of numerous computing and game titles, lively Chris is up for anything - including running Steel Media! (Madman!)

I don't play games.
I'm not a super techy person
But this experience impressed me

Keith Andrew With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

The tech makes something possible, but the tech curve is well ahead of consumer demand and there's no actual way it can be used in the home.
Until someone does something with VR that augments it into actual reality in some way - as long as it's about isolation - it'll always be niche. An impressive niche, but not a mass market prospect.

Spanner Spencer Yes. Spanner's his real name. And, yes, he's heard that joke before.

Has anyone read Ready Player One? Great insights into the future of VR.

Jon Jordan Contributing Editor A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

VR could even be another Wii
Bought for Christmas, and in the cupboard by Easter

Keith Andrew With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

I can see the tech being used by Facebook to be employed in different devices years or decades down the line, tbh

Jon Jordan Contributing Editor A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

Does Oculus have a release date yet?

Keith Andrew With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

Oculus will never launch in its current state.
I don't really think they have much interest in launching a games VR headset
I can see the tech being used by Facebook to be employed in different devices years or decades down the line, tbh
But Morpheus has got a good chance of coming out.

Chris James CEO A footy game fanatic and experienced editor of numerous computing and game titles, lively Chris is up for anything - including running Steel Media! (Madman!)

Clearly Facebook have bigger ambitions, I agree
But games will be the vanguard and proving ground

Jon Jordan Contributing Editor A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

I think it says something that neither Oculus or Glass has a public release date.

Chris James CEO A footy game fanatic and experienced editor of numerous computing and game titles, lively Chris is up for anything - including running Steel Media! (Madman!)

I'm less bullish on Glass
Glass will need reworking for several iterations if it ever makes it
It's flakey, overpriced and without clear benefits
The saving you get on 'hands-free' versus a mobile device is totally absorbed by the clunkiness and cost at the moment

Keith Andrew With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

But the one good thing about Glass, and about all wearables (as shit as most are) is that they're trying to fit in with things consumers already do. Trying to enhance it, successfully or not.
VR headsets are a marketers nightmare because they're trying to fit into a space that doesn't really exist. Trying to be the be-all-and-end-all.

Chris James CEO A footy game fanatic and experienced editor of numerous computing and game titles, lively Chris is up for anything - including running Steel Media! (Madman!)

I believe that was Jobs mantra. Try to fit in with what consumers already do and incrementally improve it
Oh no, hang on

Jon Jordan Contributing Editor A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

But Jobs was never about addressing niches. He was about making something everyone could conceivably use.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

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Robert Green
"Oculus will never launch in its current state.
I don't really think they have much interest in launching a games VR headset"
Nothing they've ever said has indicated anything other than a desire to build a games-focussed VR headset, and the fact that they keep hiring top-level talent from the games industry certainly suggests they have a great interest in it. If they never had any intention of launching a games VR headset, they've pulled off an enormous con job and every kickstarter backer and DK2 buyer would probably join a class action suit.
jon jordan
I guess the issue now is how the Facebook purchase impacts their strategy - as seen in the recent Samsung Gear VR partnership...