With headsets like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR launching within a few months, 2016 is poised to become a landmark year one where consumers can enter into the age of virtual reality devices. According to some estimates, the VR industry could grow to $6.7 billion in 2016 alone, driven mainly by hardware sales as the main contenders battle for market dominance.
We’ve already seen companies experiment with VR marketing and entertainment by offering companion experiences to movies and products using apps and mobile technology like Google Cardboard and the Samsung Gear VR, which uses mobile phones instead of dedicated headsets that must be hooked into computers. As Glu Mobile CEO Niccolo de Masi told [a]listdaily in his predictions for 2016, the future of VR is likely to grow fastest using mobile devices, given how “not only does its low cost make it more accessible, but it’s more compelling for people traveling on a train or plane, or even kids in the back of a car.” de Masi also notes that most companies won’t see big revenues come from VR in 2016, but we’re likely to see one-hundred million devices on the market by 2020.
Despite predictions like these, companies like Nvidia remain optimistic about the growth of VR headwear. Jason Paul, Nvidia’s General Manager for GeForce Experience and virtual reality, is working to grow “the installed base of GeForce VR Ready PCs to grow from 5 million today, to over 130 million by 2020.” Talking to [a]listdaily, Paul discussed how the high price of VR was bound to drop, and that “VR ready PCs have already been announced for under $1,000, and there are tens of millions of customers who can become VR-ready simply by upgrading their graphics card.” Nvidia and other technology and entertainment companies will be working hard to promote the adoption of VR technology by creating immersive experiences like Everest VR.
The key to VR taking off will be in offering unforgettable experiences, and while companies like The New York Times, Vrse and others are creating interactive videos, video games (by nature) offer the best opportunities for promoting the technology. Virtual reality can be seen as both the launch of an accessory and an all-new platform, but it’s one that video game fans are eager to dive into, if the PlayStation VR announcements at the PlayStation Experience are any indication. Sony’s strength is in PlayStation 4 gaming, and it’s working to ensure fans can look forward to deep experiences from PlayStation VR.
In addition to projects like The Walking Dead VR Experience, game developer Starbreeze is currently at work developing a John Wick VR game to help pave the way for the movie sequel. Starbreeze CEO, Bo Andersson Klint, told [a]listdaily that “Anyone who s tested VR will be able to relate and understand what a VR experience is about, but the key to unlocking the market is really to get it into the hands of the user.”
That sentiment is echoed by Crytek’s Executive Producer, Elijah Freeman, who explained that “It can be challenging to try and fully communicate the sensation of VR, and we’ve seen lots of instances at industry events where people changed from being skeptics to believers in a matter of seconds. That sudden realization of what this new medium can do is incredibly powerful, and we think the whole VR space will benefit from the inevitable word of mouth effect that will follow the launch of VR hardware.” Crytek is currently developing Robinson: The Journey for PlayStation VR and The Climb for Oculus Rift.
No matter which technology comes out ahead, consumers can look forward to virtual reality becoming a bigger part of their daily lives starting in 2016. Retail stores are already looking into ways to incorporate the experiential technology into their brand marketing, with some featuring more creative uses than others. The technology will become more affordable as consumers grow more accustomed to VR, and perhaps in a year or two we’ll wonder much like we already do with smartphones how we ever managed life without it.