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Does VR Technology Have a Future?

by Aryan
VR Technology

Five or six years ago, we were very hopeful when we were talking about VR technology. We believed that this technology would have an important place in computer games, iGaming sites such as VulkanVegas, remote education and even change all these industries. However, despite the fact that we are in 2022, we can say that VR technology has not become as widespread as expected; in fact, it almost went “backward”.

So, what is the reason for this? Why hasn’t VR technology developed and spread at the expected level? Is this a “dead” technology, or is there still hope for it? Below, we will try to answer all these questions.

What is VR Technology?

Let’s start by talking about what this technology is because it is often confused with similar technologies. Today, you can get “VR glasses” for a very small price at any retail store. This is a plastic thing, and you put your mobile phone in it. The VR technology we’re talking about here is not these products. For a product to be VR glasses:

  • It needs to have its own screen.
  • It needs to be used by connecting to a computer.
  • This computer must have a high-end graphics card that supports VR technology.

Although there are some glasses on the market that you can use without connecting to a computer, what they can do is quite limited. If you want an immersive experience, VR glasses should have all these features. These devices are connected to the computer because they need an external video card to render the graphics. Otherwise, the graphics quality cannot exceed a certain level.

VR glasses that fit this description are quite rare on the market right now, and their prices are very high. For example, the HTC VIVE Pro 2 has a price tag of $2,799 and also requires a subscription. (This device is no longer produced.) If you want to buy an Oculus Pro, you have to spend 600 dollars. PlayStation VR is the cheapest VR headset on the market ($299), but it must be used with a console. Moreover, remember that these are just the device prices. A graphics card to provide the graphics power these glasses need (and a PC to run it) will cost much more.

Price Is the Most Important Feature but Not the Only One

When we were writing about VR glasses 5-6 years ago, we used to say, “we are sure that prices will decrease as this technology becomes more widespread”. The problem is that this still hasn’t happened: even in 2022, the prices for these glasses are still very high. There are very few players with a budget to buy them. And the majority of gamers with the necessary budget prefer to spend their money on a high-end graphics card or processor. Because, as we will talk about below, even if they prefer to buy VR glasses, the number of new games they can play is very few.

Price is the biggest obstacle to the spread of VR technology. Most analysts expected the prices of OLED displays used in VR glasses to drop, but this did not happen. On the contrary, OLED screen prices continued to rise: the two years we spent with COVID played an important role in this. The most important factor that determines the price of VR glasses is the cost of the screen: it is not possible to decrease the cost of these glasses without lower OLED prices. Moreover, the prices of chips and materials used in other parts of the glasses also increased during the COVID period. Truth be told, the prices of VR glasses were supposed to increase, but manufacturers preferred to keep prices stable.

A high-priced product will have few buyers. And no one develops a new product for a market with few buyers. This also explains why VR games are few in number. The cost of developing a game that supports this technology is almost as much as standard PC/console games. However, the consumer base you can sell your product to is much smaller: your profit margin will naturally decrease, and you will often lose money. 

When VR glasses first came out, there were more than two dozen games supporting them. Years have passed, but the number of games still hasn’t changed that much: the number of studios that develop games for these devices has decreased. So even if you can afford these glasses, you won’t be able to find anything new to play with: this will naturally reduce sales figures even more. 

There May Be a Future

HTC no longer manufactures VR glasses. Oculus hasn’t been able to release the second version of the Pro model for years now. Steam no longer talks about its VR glasses at all, and due to the problems we mentioned above, new companies that want to produce these glasses are not emerging. In short, the future of this technology does not look as bright as it did a few years ago.

However, we can say that there is still hope. As prices drop and the graphics cards that can run them become more accessible, they will naturally become more common. It’s just that this will happen much later than anyone expects: in the next five years, we don’t expect any significant change in this market. If these devices don’t go away in five years, they still have a future. But we’re not really sure if a market with a very limited number of buyers and manufacturers can last that long. AR (augmented reality) is a much more practical and cost-effective technology, and it can still provide an immersive experience. The fact that it needs nothing but a mobile phone and can change the real world (at least on the screen) is causing more and more developers to switch to AR.

This can give VR technology the time it needs until the market is mature enough: if AR technology becomes widespread, VR technology will have enough time to wait until its turn comes. But of course, this is all just guesswork: none of us knows what the future really promises.

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