Oculus wunderkind Palmer Luckey has continued his evangelism of VR development at GDC this week, but has also urged developers to be realistic about what sort of returns they can expect to be making as early adopters of the technology.
Speaking this morning in a short address which formed the last five minutes of a multi-speaker keynote at the conference, Luckey warned that whilst he expected there to be plenty of studios finding success with VR games, there would inevitably be failures too, much the same as elsewhere in the industry.
"I wish I could come up on this stage and tell you that virtual reality is going to change everything, it's all going to be for the better, nobody is going to fail and you're going to make so much money if you get involved in virtual reality," the 23 year old told the audience. "The actual truth is that we don't know how things are going to play out. We know there are going to be a lot of successes, but the likelihood is that there are also going to be a lot of failures, it's really the same of anyone else in the games industry. There's a lot of optimism, but the rubber hasn't really hit the road yet."
His speech was part of a larger session entitled "Flash Backward: 30 Years of Gaming", in which several luminaries of the industry ruminated on what changes the last three decades had brought. Taking the final slot, Luckey pointed out that he didn't have a lot of personal experience to reflect upon in comparison, but pointed out that the disruptive nature of new technology meant that the next 30 years were unlikely to be like the last.
"It's going to be interesting to see how the industry continues to evolve, things like crowd funding, new publishing models, new funding models, new hardware technology, things that allow games to be really different, because I feel like for a while games were in a bit of a rut. I don't say that as a game developer, I'm a very young guy, I say that as a gamer - I felt like the games coming out every year were the same as the games coming out the year before. That has not been the case in the last few years, we've seen some radical changes."
His comments were echoed in an interview he gave to Gamasutra just before the show, published today, in which he urged developers to at least learn what they could about VR tehcnology and game creation, but not to expect vast returns.
"I think the people who are going to be hurt the most by virtual reality are going to be developers who give absolutely no attention to it, and don't think about it at all, and don't experiment with it at all, don't work on getting their tech with it at all. Of course, I'm biased," the young executive admitted. "[but] I believe VR is going to become hugely successful and then dominate the technology industry.
"If I'm right, people who aren't spending any time at least thinking about VR now are going to have a tough time catching up with the people who are at least putting some time into it.
"At the same time, I'd say developers should be realistic. Don't believe the most optimistic things the analysts say. Especially when those analysts don't actually know anything about VR.
"It's going to take time for virtual reality to become truly mass market and successful, so people should scale their efforts appropriately. Don't go out and say, 'Hey, we've got to get into VR. There's going to be a hundred billion dollars in revenue by the end of 2018. If we can capture just 1 percent of that then we're going to be a billion dollar company.' It's not quite going to work like that, is my guess."