While there's no concrete launch date yet for a consumer product, Facebook's Oculus Rift and Sony's Morpheus are slowly but steadily heading towards the finish line. Most developers GamesIndustry.biz has spoken to about virtual reality headsets have been enormously excited about the opportunities, but how do consumers feel? In the first of a series of contributions to our Insights section, research firm EEDAR asked consumers about their awareness and excitement around VR and how much they are willing to spend.
Awareness of various VR devices at this point is quite high at 75 percent, but purchase intent of current PC and console gamers is very low - only 8 percent said they'll buy a VR headset in the next 12 months (assuming one's available). Part of the problem is that the majority of consumers still haven't had a chance to try out VR in any capacity. 17 percent have tried it and when they do, they're much more likely to want to buy.
EEDAR pointed out, "This need to personally experience VR stands in stark contrast to typical discovery methods within the gaming industry - where discovery is largely driven by word-of-mouth recommendations (only 22 percent said they would purchase a VR device based on a friend's recommendation)."
Consumers who have shown an interest in VR made it clear that they want fresh experiences, not simply the latest shooter converted into a VR-compatible game. The desire for made-for-VR games aligns well with Oculus' intent to provide a real sense of presence and immersion in its games. While new experiences are crucial to driving enjoyment, cost is still the most important factor impacting purchasing decisions, EEDAR found. Players are willing to invest in high-quality experiences, but are wary of the potential price tag (especially since, for most, adding VR would necessitate additional upgrades and peripherals).
On average, gamers indicated they would be willing to spend between $100-$200 on the headset itself, and up to $376 total (on the device, peripherals and necessary upgrades) to add VR capabilities to their gaming setups.
"Virtual Reality is a hot topic in the games industry right now, but consumers are still mostly undecided about whether they will purchase VR devices when they become commercially available. Most console and PC gamers are now aware of the VR devices, but only a small percentage have actually experienced the technology. It is a positive sign for VR that those that have tried the devices are still interested in purchase. The key for the industry will be making sure as many people as possible get a chance to try the device and that their experience is as high in quality as possible," commented Patrick Walker, EEDAR's Head of Insights and Analytics.