VR doesn’t pose a threat to videogame consoles – at least for now – but Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is certainly bullish about its superiority over them.
Speaking in a quarterly investors call this month, Zuckerberg was unsurprisingly quizzed on his thoughts about VR’s potential success; a question that has almost become routine at this point. The CEO gave his usual reply about looking ahead to the long term success of VR platforms, including the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, rather than how it will perform in year one. But Zuckerberg did make one interesting deviation from his usual speech, noting that he believes VR delivers a “better and richer” experience than the current generation of consoles.
The CEO stated that the current market for the Oculus Rift consists of those that already own “Xboxs, PlayStations, and Wiis”, later stating that VR could offer better experiences than these platforms. He did note, however, that he hopes that market will expand far beyond the audience of people that want “an immersive media experience” for “a long period of time” in the future.
You don’t have to look far to find truth in Zuckerberg’s statements; VR is largely being aimed towards gamers at this point in time. Both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive featured comprehensive launch line-ups with plenty of videogames. Oculus itself has been aggressive in this field, locking down exclusive partnerships with studios like Crytek, Insomniac Games and Harmonix.
Of course, to run the Rift or the Vive you need a PC that surpasses the power of an Xbox One, PlayStation 4 or Wii U, though the demands of the tech mean we haven’t seen much that visually bests what’s possible on console yet. That said, the added immersion provided by VR goes beyond visual fidelity.
Still, Zuckerberg was quick to temper expectations: “And I know there’s a lot of hype around this, and we’re just focused on building this to be very good over the long term,” he added.
Of course, one member of the current generation of consoles is actually preparing to go toe-to-toe with the Oculus Rift later this year. PlayStation VR is just six months away from a launch on PlayStation 4 and, at $399, could be a serious competitor to the $599 Rift, especially given that it runs on much more affordable hardware than a VR ready PC. Just what impact it will have on the Rift’s current intended audience remains to be seen.