Glu Mobile: VR several years from returning "meaningful" revenue

CEO thinks desktop VR is two or three years from inflection point, and mobile VR is even further than that

Glu Mobile has backed away from further investment in virtual reality development, with CEO Niccolo de Masi informing investors that it will be several years before the VR becomes a, "meaningful revenue event."

The company has made one big play in the VR space to date, creating a game in its Deer Hunter series for Samsung Gear VR and launching it in December last year. However, Glu has noticeably cooled on the immediate potential of the market even in the handful of months since.

"I think it's fair to say that we have not yet seen the kind of inflection point that we're looking for to pile more incremental investment into this," de Masi said, adding that those strategic decisions are further complicated the company's current position, and the difficulties of operating in the mobile market in general. "We think that desktop VR is probably two to three years away from being a meaningful revenue event," he continued. "For mobile VR it's further than that."

Beyond the size of the market in terms of revenue, mobile VR is also limited by the hardware. De Masi acknowledged that mobile VR can be more immersive than non-VR games, but he noted a "deficit of control schemes" and a lack of "graphical rendering power" in existing smartphones. "The actual hardware is not at the point whereby you can run an equivalent, in my mind, non-VR mobile experience with your Galaxy Gear headset and not burn out the battery after 20 or 30 minutes," he said.

However, with so many large companies now interested in VR - and many more rumoured to be, de Masi noted - Glu remains interested in future investment on a, "sensible ROI-based time horizon." When that arrives, though, might be longer than some might expect.

"It's fair to say that this year will not be the year of mobile VR," de Masi said. "2016 is not the year of mobile VR for meaningful revenue that would move the needle for us, and I'm not sure 2017 is either."

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