A VR Gamer/YouTuber Delivers a Gut-Punch Reality Check to Virtual Reality Gaming: It’s Not Just Social VR That’s Struggling to Take Off, It’s the Entire VR Industry

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Someone posted the following YouTube video to the official Sansar Discord channel today. It’s a mixed-reality video recorded on a green-screen set constructed by Drift0r, a VR enthusiast and avid gamer, within his own home (which should tell you quite a bit about what level a fan he is of virtual reality).

But he certainly does not pull any punches when it comes down to dissecting exactly what’s wrong with the current state of virtual reality in general, and VR gaming in particular:

Now, this is not some VR dilettante; this is what I would consider a hardcore VR gamer who has made a sizeable investment in both the computer hardware and software, not only to play VR games but to record videos of himself doing so. He’s also a popular YouTube personality with over 1.3 million subscribers. And he says in the description of this particular video:

Virtual Reality has been struggling to catch on and go mainstream for almost four years now. I personally am a huge fan of VR and own the Rift, Vive, & PSVR; but I have to face the fact that VR gaming is dying. This video goes over the current major issues with VR gaming and offers some suggestions on how to fix them. I show off Beat Saber, Sprint Vector, Doom VFR, Sairento, Gorn, Creed, Raw Data, and several other games in mixed reality too.

For someone like this to be saying that VR is dying, and to suggest that full mainstream acceptance of VR may lie 20 to 30 years in the future, instead of the 5 to 10 years most VR market forecasters are predicting, should give a lot of companies working in VR serious pause (including those firms building social VR platforms). This guy is the consummate insider, somebody who should be leading the cheering section, telling us that things are not okay with the current state of VR gaming, at least.

The dirty secret of VR gaming overall, let alone social VR, is that very few people still own a VR headset. The vast majority of people playing VR-capable games and visiting VR-capable virtual worlds are not using a VR headset; they are in desktop mode. And it’s not just social VR that is struggling to attract paying customers, it’s the entire VR industry that is facing the reality that most people aren’t adopting the technology. As Drift0r explains, the hard, cold truth of VR gaming is that the games are selling in numbers that are pitiful by desktop game standards.

So, what does this mean for Sansar, High Fidelity, and the other social VR companies? It means that they should be wary of over-focusing on virtual reality to the exclusion of desktop users. Linden Lab smartly made the move to integrate text chat in Sansar for both desktop and VR users, something that Philip Rosedale has been notably loathe to do in High Fidelity (although I understand that text chat is included in the HiFi client, but disabled by default).

Virtual reality may not be dying, as this YouTuber asserts, but it isn’t looking overly healthy, either. I’ve already blogged about a couple of social VR projects that have fallen on hard times waiting for virtual reality to become more popular (Anyland and, more recently, Virtual Universe). The advent of the attractively-priced, standalone Oculus Quest headset might ignite the VR marketplace, but the forecasters have been wrong before.

So, what do you think? Feel free to leave a comment here with your thoughts and opinions. Or, even better, join us on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server! Over 150 people who are passionate about social VR and virtual worlds are talking about this and other topics every day. And you’re invited to join our discussions!

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7 thoughts on “A VR Gamer/YouTuber Delivers a Gut-Punch Reality Check to Virtual Reality Gaming: It’s Not Just Social VR That’s Struggling to Take Off, It’s the Entire VR Industry”

  1. Plain and simple, games drive the vr demand. Without killer games its doomed just like game consoles like the jaguar for example. Wilson’s heart made me jump on the bandwagon but without anymore blockbuster hits like that killing floor forget it.

  2. I’ve been in SL for 11 years. The main reason for me for not using VR is the RL social aspect. I’m not even talking about if my computer would be able to handle it, or if there is enough content available in those VR universes… But, like many SL users, I have a RL family, they are constantly running around, when I’m in SL; I cannot be blind for the RL world around me. That’s also one of the reasons I never use voice: it’s simply not practical when having family and kids in the same room. I assume VR would isolate me even more, so it would only be ok to use it when I’m home alone, which rarely is the case.

  3. Seems we have reached a plateau for the moment. Those of us that do VR on a daily basis continue to explore the wonderful world of VR. But I must say that I have put many people into VR experiences of all types from gaming, educational, art and social and nobody is calling me to ask to come over to do more.
    Both ViVe and Oculus Rift have surely opened up the possibilities of what VR can be. I myself like you Ryan with continue to explore the intriguing world of VR.
    Palmer Lucky, one of the creators of the Oculus Rift said it not about the expense of buying the rig…but good content. At least that is how I understood his comment.
    I agree. Build it and they will come.
    Happy Holidays to all of you.

    1. I think folk who promote a full immersion VR make a mistake about just how much sensory input is needed to give a sense of living in a virtual world. Being able to see and hear is – for those not blind or deaf – enough for most people, in the same way that 2D films are enough without the need for being 3D. Sealing off your vision and hearing from the real world isn’t absolutely necessary.

      I remember playing a 3D game in the arcades in the early 90s. You had a head set, and stood on a platform where you could turn and move in any direction. Its flaws were a much too basic screen resolution, and tendency to make the user motion sick. Never caught on, because 2D games were enough.

  4. For me Google cardboard and smart phone is as good as it got. I prefer desktop, plain and simple and Second Life, Opensim and WebGL are my main interests now. Oh, and clever AI bots to play with.

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