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Oculus exec warns uptake may be slow

VP of product suggests content, price issues may keep virtual reality tech from changing the industry overnight

In an on-stage appearance at yesterday's Oculus Connect keynote, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg warned that virtual reality might grow slowly at first. It was a sentiment echoed by Oculus VP of product Nate Mitchell in an interview with Gamasutra published today.

While Oculus is convinced of VR's potential to change the world, Mitchell said history has shown that new technology generally doesn't do that overnight.

"At the end of the day, I think that if you look at many of the most successful consumer hardware products of all time, most of them sold in the very low millions of units in their first year -- especially new product categories, things like Kindle and iPod. They sold in the hundreds of thousands in their first generation," Mitchell said.

The two big challenges that Mitchell said most needed to be addressed were content and price. While people might have their minds blown by an impressive VR demo, they still need good content to justify investing in the tech and have it as a permanent fixture in their homes. To start with, Mitchell expects that content to come from small developers and indies interested in the possibilities of VR and able to take risks their larger counterparts can't.

"If we can sell enough that developers start being successful and they can reinvest in the system," Mitchell said, "we can start the cycle and kick start the chicken-and-the-egg problem. I think we can make this thing into a thriving ecosystem."

If enough small developers give people a reason to buy the system, then there may be an installed base big enough to justify the larger players investing in VR games and content at the multimillion dollar level.

Oculus can help make that happen working from two directions. First, it can by promote developers making VR-specific games and fostering innovation in the community. Second, it can make the hardware increasingly affordable over time.

"Price is going to be one of the biggest barriers to entry," Mitchell said. "It's just not going to be some insane, insane console launch, but if we can build this thing year over year and keep growing the community and the ecosystem, then we can make VR that changes the world."

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Latest comments (3)

Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 3 years ago
hmmm.. as we still don't know how mucht the Oculus is actually going to cost, this makes me worry a bit and gives me the idea the Oculus isn't going to cost the price as was mentioned they were targetting for (a couple of years ago)..
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Nick Parker Consultant 3 years ago
Is this refreshing realistic pragmatism or a warning? Loss leading on the console to generate an installed base worthy of investing development on has always been the route to market for console manufacturers (Nintendo sometimes being the exception). Launching hardware takes balls of steel but I think with the FB deep pockets, Oculus can ride through the rocky early adopter stage. Ditto PS VR.
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>...Is this refreshing realistic pragmatism or a warning?...

Or damage limitation against previous over-exaggeration of the opportunity - we can point to those previous comments they did not shut-down at the time that their system would run on a $600 priced PC! Now the reality hits home and they need to try and manage the three elephants in the room!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by kevin williams on 29th September 2015 12:15pm

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