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Most gamers not interested in VR in 2016 - report

An exclusive Gamer Network survey reveals that only 15% of players intend to purchase any of the VR platforms this year

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.

Latest comments (7)

Alan Blighe Research Associate 9 months ago
Clearly plenty of people are already ordering them, but literally nobody I know has even the slightest interest. It'd be interesting to see a breakdown of the demographics of the people who are planning to buy (pretty sure some of this information was on the survey).
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Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments9 months ago
15% sounds really good, surely? Not sure what that total "gamer" market comes out as these days, but steam has over 100 million MAU - 15% of that is 15 million year one sales.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 9 months ago
Speaking for myself and the majority of gamers I know the same sentiment is felt. But I suspect many people will not buy VR this year mainly because of price and secondly due to lack of interest. At this point, from what I've seen and read I wouldn't be interested in purchasing a VR headset even if they were more affordable. But of course I'd still like to try them out if they ever set up demo's some place.
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Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve9 months ago
Our office is full of VR kit, from Google Cardboard to the HTC Vive, and I'm absolutely in love with the tech. Conversely though, I don't actually intend to buy any for myself for the time being. My most important reason is that there isn't actually any killer software available yet, and the second reason is that the price is so high that I can't justify the purchase without reason one being satisfied.

These aren't the worst issues the VR devices could facing though, they can be solved with time. The devices themselves perform great. With the HTC Vive, I've used it for quite a while without any adverse affects. I guess the question is whether the up-front price can come down significantly, and whether enough great games are released in time before interest fizzles out.
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I think mobile has the best shot, and it'll be the novelty stuff that works in the first instance purely because it will allow you to remain social and has a low cost barrier. To get people to move beyond novelty in great numbers will take a very long time, IMO. VR Simply doesn't address THE NEEDS of many. It only addresses THE WANTS of a minority, and even they don't need it. Until there is something that addresses the NEEDS or even the WANTS of many, it'll remain niche, but cool.

Humans are social animals at the end of the day. You just have to look around and you see so many people missing out on life with their heads in their phones. People already monitor their engagement with technology vs real world social time. VR's challenge in that respect is even greater.
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Connor Martin Aspiring game designer/tester 8 months ago
It's not a gaming device, it is simply new technology that the gaming industry wants to try and put forward which honestly I expect will be met with resounding indifference from many. It's applications in a rounded perspective? It can be of great benefit and detraction to our technological landscape.
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Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games8 months ago
VR is an overrated bubble. Most companies parade it around because they have nothing more groundbreaking to put forward. Helps their marketing, and gives a slight boost to their stock whenever mentioned.

In my opinion AR, and in particular HoloLens is the thing.
It is more social, it is more fun, it is autonomous (portability + mobile features), a real computer, a multi-purpose tool and not just a viewing device, and as such it has more chances to succeed as a future platform.

But even that will take time to mature, provided that the consumer price will be right. A good gaming laptop can cost about 1200-1500. I expect it about the same at most.
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