VR Cast: State of the Industry – Are 6.3 Million Headsets Enough?

by Joe Durbin • February 9th, 2017

When it comes to consumer electronics, content is king. This is true for virtual reality as well and this year is shaping up to be the biggest year ever for amazing VR experiences. Last year, however, was the year of VR hardware. The working estimate is that 6.3 million VR headsets in total shipped in 2016. But our question for this week’s VR cast is whether or not that’s enough.

Join Joe, Ashley and special guest Tal Blevins (UploadVR’s brand new editor-in-chief) as they analyze the current health of the VR marketplace. Stick around too to hear about Nintendo’s VR plans for the Switch, the aftermath of the Oculus/Zenmiax lawsuit, and some of Tal’s most memorable video game reviews.

If you have questions or comments on the show let us know below or reach out to [email protected] Thanks for listening!

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  • jimrp

    Its a start for a new Frontier. Anyone with a brain knows it will become AR/VR in one. Eventually contacts in your eyes.

    • Mourz

      No, it wont.

    • NooYawker

      That’s how I imagine it will go.

    • Hairy BizRat

      We’ll all end up blind or with eye problems

  • NooYawker

    The bulk of those are Samsung gear vr’s. I think less than a million oculus and vives were sold. But at $800 and first gen it’s a pretty good start. More importantly there’s a lot of interest from large gaming studios. More content, so many companies improving the tech and hopefully lower prices for full VR gear will blow the market up. The fact that smart watches are still around leads me to believe VR will be around for a long time.

  • VR Geek

    It is for sure not enough but it is a good start. We run MetaverseXXX and while 6.4M is is a great start, the market needs 100s of millions to really make things happen. Super pumped to be a part of this industry!!!

    • luis riera

      100 millions is impossible.. I think playstation sales are close to 50 million.

      • koenshaku

        Not impossible at all the bulk of that 6.4m comes from smartphones if apple got on board 100s is quite possible.

      • VR Geek

        Not a question of if we will see 100s of million so VR/AR devices, it is a question of when. We predict we will see these sorts of numbers by 2019/2020 and then 1 billion+ by 2025

  • DrakeDoesn’tWrite

    It’s a decent start. Once Vive/Oculus level VR hit’s that $400 dollar pricepoint as a out-of-the-box experience it’s on. Personally, VR has already turned into something I always want now. I love my Vive. I can use Solus to escape into another world or watch anime on a theatre screen(Bigscreen is just awesome).

    P.S. Be sure to root for the success of PSVR it’s EXTREMELY vital to the life of VR for all gamers regardless of the platform.

    • koenshaku

      VR on Mobiles is more important. Much larger user base and more accessible.

      • DrakeDoesn’tWrite

        VR on Mobile is not VR. VR on Mobile is not for Gaming 1st. I don’t care about Mobile n VR. It actually does more harm than good. People see that and think it’s real VR. It’s not! It’s fkn garbage that causes morons to think Premium VR is the same as that garbage.

        • Smanny

          You couldn’t be more wrong. First of all the Price of the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, plus the systems you need to run them has literally priced themselves out of the market, period.

          Now when it comes to mobile VR platforms and systems, they currently don’t have the room and object awareness that is found on the Vive and Rift. However with that said. Mobile platforms like the Gear VR and now Daydream VR certainly have great head tracking and smooth VR experiences. Especially now that more and more mobile platforms are going to have some level of spacial awareness, like Daydream VR which brought a 9-axis controller to its platform. Not to mention mobile VR systems have the benefits of not only better pricing and portability, plus they get the benefit of an easy of setup, and configuration. No playing around with cables.

          Clearly you never tried out Daydream VR and what that platform brings to the VR tablet. Btw I have an Oculus Rift, PS VR, and Gear VR as well. I don’t own the Vive. But since I have all the others. Then I know a thing or two about VR platforms. I can honestly say that mobile VR will be the dominant factor for growing VR in general. Like it or not. It’s only going to get more popular in comparison to the Rift, Vive, and PS VR platforms. This is a fact. I will even place money on it.

          • DrakeDoesn’tWrite

            It will be dominant like McDonald’s it’s there so we go. However, we still want those premium burgers. Just having head tracking is not VR to me. Tha’s why I scoffed at Oculus when it was new, while barely being able to contain myself when I discovered what HTC was doing with Vive. If it doesn’t scale in a space it’s not VR to me.

          • Fooking ‘ell who gives a shit what you think, you’re only one more chump in a sea of plenty.

            While mobile VR might not be *real* VR to *YOU*, it IS real VR to many.
            Mobile VR isn’t poisoning the well, it is getting many people who would never otherwise be interested in VR at all, interested in VR.

            THAT is a good thing.

          • DrakeDoesn’tWrite

            No. It’s not a good thing. Mobile is Virtual Vision. Not Virtual Reality. Sorry you had to find out this way. Accept your new reality.

          • NooYawker

            Think of noble vr as a gateway for people to invest into a full vr setup.

  • First of all, congratulations for the achievement. And we hope that this grows more now. Virtual Reality is the fastest growing and cutting-edge technology for the world which is a true blessing for the people.

  • Lucidfer

    A quick reading on these completely hysterically hypocrite (kool-aid injected) comments and articles and you have strong sign that VR will die for this cycle pretty soon.

    On the other side, a real, complete and practical Virtual Headset is really nearing.

    But 6.5 millions headset, which is kind of big bullshit since in true there are 5 millions mobile headset, and only 1.5 millions “high-end” VR HMDs out of which 750.000 are PSVRs is a disaster, especially for a product that has been around for 4 years now and was supposed to have it’s big “consumer” launch in 2016.

    Fun fact: the Virtual Boy which was considered a failure actually sold 800K headsets in less than a year 20 years ago…In the other hand, the iPhone which was a successful new product launch sold 6 millions in a year…yeah…

    • You don’t have a clue what you are talking about. “A product that has been around for 4 years”? Next to nobody even knew the Rift existed in it’s DevKit state, as it wasn’t yet a consumer product, so how you can count that is beyond me.
      As far as ‘general public’ is concerned, VR didn’t become a *thing* until 2016. And while the original iPhone sold 6 million, the first *smartphones* did significantly worse.
      Also, there is an uphill battle against the negative stigma of the past that the VR HMD’s of today have to prove themselves against, so it can be expected that it will take a while longer than other emerging tech of today.
      But it IS happening. The more people try it, the more people believe and the bigger it gets.

      You should really learn to think before you make your calculations/comparisons.

      • Lucidfer

        Or I should just do my job and tell the hard prospective truth I believe in? I’m not saying that VR is a fad, I’m saying most headset are crap that are no better and as unfinished as 90s VR headset and this is the reason why it doesn’t and won’t sell to the consumer public. Period.

        This is call to take a step back and realise that after the first amazement of a DK1 headset, you realise more and more that the product being sold are actual unfinished, badly conceived crap, that will NOT take-of as long as they’re not made as well as the iPhone for what it’s supposed to be.

        • polysix

          I agree the HMDs are not there yet (having owned Vive, DK2 and PSVR) but ‘VR’ itself isn’t going away, and gen 2 will do a lot to put it on the map firmly (2018/2019). Valve have already heavily hinted that basically we have 4k, improved FOV, wireless, foveated etc coming in GEN 2 by 2018. Once we get that base level it’ll be full steam ahead (no pun intended).

          Calling it a disaster is hyperbole, it was always expected to be a slow burner/hard sell. They were never going to come out with 1st gen VR and convince the world. It’ll probably be gen 3 before we see a real mass market acceptance/curiosity in large numbers (2020/2021). And gen 4 when it finally goes mainstream, as mainstream as tablets, phones etc.

          That said VR itself will always be a less ‘needed’ tech than phones, net access, tv for the world’s population so I doubt it ever really wanted to compete with that. Just hitting console numbers would be good by gen 3 (50 million over a 5 year period for just one high end VR, 30 mill for the second best)

          • Lucidfer

            The hyperbole only applies to tethered VR headset’s conception, I do think they are disastrous.

            As for VR going away, well there’s still chances of that if we’re going to wait until late 2018 for any new VR headset to be released by Valve or Oculus just to get 4K/120°/Wireless (I don’t think foveated rendering is that close) which ain’t shit.

            The paradox (it isn’t but it will like it is) is that I think VR will be much more need than phone and especially TV, Virtual Headset and then more importantly glasses are even the end of it. The problem is that as of now, there are risk that it happens in another cycle, in 10-15 years for now for simple yet seemingly profane reasons: economics, market and consumption are not ruled by magic and faith.

            There is NO technological investment of that scope that can wait for 3/4 years and even more to be suddenly for whatever undefined reasons be adopted by the consumer market. In fact you mention consoles but there is a reason the market crashed in 1977 even though the best selling ones sold about 1 millions, not 150k. Except the first console didn’t appear 20 years after a preceding and failing generation and the expectation it would have brought, it would have probably failed only for console to be reintroduced only in the late 80s/early 90s with the belated development it would imply.

            However I’m just being the devil’s advocate, there is I think 60% chance that the VR market does pick-up this generation, however something I’m sure off is that tethered (as in PC-tied, even if wireless) headsets like the Oculus and Vive will fail and disappear because once we have 4K/120°/wireless mobile headset which will not only probably come before, have the benefit of being transportable and hardware agnostic, and more importantly comes with a high-end, Tango enabled smartphone, there’s not much incentive in having an Oculus or Vive unless they actually come-up with ss8K/~150°/eye-tracking and…I don’t even know what else.

          • J.C.

            No smartphone has remotely near the muscle of the PS4, much less a high end PC. While you may be right, that VR survives due to smartphone VR, it’s absolutely the crappiest option.

            Personally, I think PSVR and more likely, Scorpio, is where top end will live. Having a set hardware target is a HUGE boon.

          • Lucidfer

            No TV or computer screen has remotely near the muscle of a PS4, PC or even smartphone yet that’s what you’re using as a visual interface for these?

            Well I didn’t said that mobile VR is the way to go ALTHOUGH it relies on a limited hardware, but specifically because once you have wireless beaming, such as an integrated wifiad/hd (like TPCastà plugin, it doesn’t matter what VR headset you’re using with a smartphone, PS4 or PC.

            Virtual Headsets were never meant to be hardware machines but new visual (and interactional) interfaces replacing screens. Once you can move around with a fully-fledged high-end smartphone, which doubles as a high-end VR headset (given that screen, resolution, sensors, tracking, FOV° are likely to evolve way faster) that can “plug” into any compatible hardware such as PC, console, Mac, laptop, internet box etc…there is no point in a hardware tethered VR headset unless it’s very high-quality (which would mean 8K, 160°FOV, Foveated-Rendering and who knows what else would make the deal).

            As for PSVR and especially Scorpio, I agree they make way better VR incentive in their respective living-room, family/friendly, multimedia context than PC VR.

          • J.C.

            I’m not sure cellphones are the answer, mostly because trying to get companies to stick to a standard is like herding cats. For the phones to reliably beam data from a computer, there would have to be a very specific standard involved, not just “have wireless AX”.
            Cellphones with proper room tracking won’t be cheap, so again, not mainstream for a few generations. While most people have a cellphone now, a standard like you’re talking about would require that everyone replaces theirs. Literally everyone, as the hardware doesn’t exist yet. Is it cheaper to replace a perfectly functional cellphone, or get a VR headset? Right now it’s a toss up, in a year or two the headsets will be the cheaper option.

            I’m only worried that VR will ONLY live as “the shittiest version”. There’s at LEAST one more generation of headsets/controllers before investors are going to start demanding a healthy ROI. Let’s hope manufacturers make it count.

          • Lucidfer

            Well technically speaking, WifiAD which was released last year to OEM, with new codecs such as WifiHD or AV1 are capable of beaming in a reliable way at current image resolution (4K) without much compression, but it certainly is not possible to integrate it into smartphone yet. So I’m rather talking about a wireless integrated headset (instead of using external plugins like TPCast which work as described above).

            As for VR tracking, for having tested PSVR on PC with dedicated bootstrapping tracking software, I realised how actually VERY simple, cheap and lightweight the solution used in all major headset is: IR or Cam tracking Leds, and I really hope Samsung will use that recently leaked patent of a mobile eternal Cam/tracker with Led patched Gear-VR.

            Inside-out tracking with a smartphone however is going to be more complicated. I have seen a few demo of mobiles with just their single external camera and Vslam (point cloud tracking) being able to add head/position tracking to GearVR, which I don’t know how accurate and conveniently it works, but the way to go is also already here: Google Tango (or Intel RealSense).

            Granted these are still limited and unstable, for me Virtual Headset don’t make sense without such components and they’re already available (although probably hard to integrated into consumer smartphone for now).

            “There’s at LEAST one more generation of headsets/controllers before investors are going to start demanding a healthy ROI. Let’s hope manufacturers make it count.” THANKS! Because indeed, there’s not a magical infinite amount of time and magical random moment when VR can either pick-up on the mainstream market or inevitably fail for another cycle.

            I don’t think VR will only live as the shittiest version, I just think it has to start, not start somewhere like anywhere as it did now, but actually START by being an actual Virtual Headset the way it was always supposed to be until Oculus decided to scrap all their patents and buy-outs (Nimble-bit for Hand-tracking or 13th Lab for environment/AR tracking and interactions) and instead just release the same unfinished prototype based on the initial DK1 idea as “consumer” headset, and others followed.

            But again, a TPCast-like integrated plugin, a Tango smartphone (as well as the more challenging software-side which in fact HAS to be crowd sourced to be developed, therefor it’s base technology implemented) and we can at least say that the elements of a true Virtual Headset that will present long-term incentive and development for adoption is there.