What Happened to Virtual Reality?

Matthew Forte

A few years ago, the hype surrounding Virtual Reality Gaming was unreal. It was the next big step in gaming, and it seemed like a technology straight out of the future. In 2015, all the rage was “when is the Oculus Rift gonna come out?” It seemed insane to be able to put on a helmet and dive right into all of your favorite games- and this is what everyone was waiting for: to play their favorite games in VR (Virtual Reality). However, today we rarely hear anything regarding VR gaming. How is it that this groundbreaking technology became so obsolete?

The Oculus Rift headset and controllers.

In the end of March, 2016, the Oculus Rift was finally released. It was finally here, everyone would be able to play their favorite games in VR now, right? Wrong. The first issue with the Oculus Rift was that it was priced at $600 when it originally came out with an extra component which was basically necessary priced at $200. This was much higher than any gaming console costed at that time. As a result of the high price, not many people were able to afford it, and thus the hype began to die down. The second issue with the Oculus Rift is that it didn’t have anyone’s favorite games on it. The only games that were playable on the Oculus Rift were new games that were made specifically for the Oculus Rift. Since no one could play any of their favorite games on the Oculus Rift, no one wanted to buy it. In 2017, the price of the Oculus Rift dropped to a total of $600 with the extra component included. However, still no one cared and the hype around virtual reality remained dead. The Oculus Rift now costs about $350, and the console is still not very popular.

The HTC Vive headset being used.

Although the Oculus Rift now is compatible with Steam VR (meaning that you can play games from the Steam gaming platform in virtual reality with this console) and costs much less, the little hype which still remains around VR, now surrounds different VR headsets. The HTC Vive and PlayStation VR headsets are the most used headsets for VR gaming today. While the Oculus Rift is not far behind, it still has a ways to go to catch up with the HTC Vive.

Overall virtual reality gaming is not selling as well as expected. Developers of the software expected sales to reach two or three times what they actually ended up being. Prices for the hardware has dropped, and more versatile capabilities have been implemented in the devices in order to increase the consumers’ desires to purchase it, but it remains a huge letdown as prices are still too high for most people want to purchase it and the cost of developing virtual reality devices is pretty high itself. So there is not much profit to be made off of VR gaming, although it initially seemed like an amazing concept. This is not to say that VR is not fun, in fact there is much that you can do in VR, like fully immersing into the world of Skyrim with intense graphics enhancement mods, but most people just aren’t willing to pay so much money to be able to do that.