Attend any game conference this year, and the words virtual reality are likely to be heard ad nauseum. Industry buzz around the technology is reaching an all-time high but even with three VR headsets (Oculus, Vive and PlayStation VR) hitting the market this year, it's unclear just what kind of installed base developers making games for the platforms will be able to target. The need for expensive PC gaming rigs (in the case of two out of three headsets) and prohibitive price tags of $600 and $800 for the Oculus Rift and Vive, respectively, point to the market remaining niche in 2016.
This is backed up by a new survey of nearly 14,000 gamers across Gamer Network websites (the network which also publishes GamesIndustry.biz). Out of close to 13,000 respondents who answered, only 15 percent actually said they intend to purchase a VR headset this year, with 60 percent flat-out saying they would not consider a purchase. Another 25 percent were unsure. Interestingly, 75 percent of respondents said that they currently own a gaming PC, so it's clearly a PC oriented crowd, the very kind that you would think would be most receptive to a VR headset purchase.
Price is likely to be a big factor, ranked most important by almost 32 percent of gamers. Of the VR headsets launching in 2016, PlayStation VR was the most cited (around 20 percent) to be purchased (and 35 percent already own a PS4). While Sony has yet to announce a final launch date and price, it's believed that PlayStation will offer the most affordable package. Oculus Rift meanwhile, which certainly has had more momentum from the very start among developers, was lagging both Vive and PlayStation VR with only 13.74 percent of purchase interest from those surveyed, although Vive was only slightly ahead of Oculus with 15.5 percent.
Apart from VR purchase intent, gamers were asked which platforms they plan to buy in the future. Despite literally no information being available for Nintendo's next console being available, the NX actually led the pack with nearly 31 percent of respondents choosing it; that's certainly encouraging news for Nintendo which has seen its bottom line hit hard thanks to the failure of the Wii U and declining 3DS sales. Buying a new gaming PC was a close second around 30 percent, and in the world of current-gen consoles Sony's PS4 easily outpaced the Xbox One, 20 percent vs. 9 percent.