VR and AR is a long ways away from becoming truly mainstream. Those that know the industry well accept that, but supposed slow sales of high-end headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have some doubting its long-term viability. That, one investor says, is the industry’s greatest threat.
Mike Hayes, investment director at Mercia Technologies, said as much during last week’s GamesIndustry.biz Investment Summit. He called for patience on the journey to make VR and AR mainstream, and talked about the need for investors to continue supporting the category.
“I fear that we’re in danger of talking ourselves out of VR and AR,” Hayes said, “which is going to be a fundamental category in all walks of life over the next few years. Yeah, okay, maybe we’re not downloading as much on PlayStation VR as we would have liked, but this is just the foothills of something that will be quite revolutionary.”
Hayes comments were aimed squarely at the UK investment community, but this is a trend we’ve seen worldwide, best described by Unity CEO John Riccitiello as the “gap of disappointment” between sales expectations and realities in VR’s earlier years.
Mercia, meanwhile, has been investing millions into UK-based VR developer, nDreams, which is best known for story-based adventure game, The Assembly, and is currently working on first-person shooter (FPS), Shooty Fruity. Surprisingly, Hayes noted that he was willing to wait as long as 15 years for the studio to succeed.
For VR to truly take off, the market needs cheaper, more accessible headsets. We’re already starting to see this come into effect; the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have recently enjoyed huge price cuts, and standalone headsets and inside-out tracking are making it easier than ever to jump into VR. Like Hayes says, the industry might need to hold on a little longer, but maintain a positive outlook going forward.