VR is NOT Dying: Members of the Virtual Reality Group on Facebook Respond to My Blogpost on Drift0r’s YouTube Video, And Set the Record Straight

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Not too long ago, I wrote a blogpost about the video which avid VR gamer Drift0r posted to YouTube, which outlined his take on the state of virtual reality in general, and VR gaming in particular. The blogpost and video were controversial and I got a lot of feedback. (For the record, I myself did NOT say that “VR is dying”, like Drift0r did in his video. I said, and I quote, “Virtual reality may not be dying, as this YouTuber asserts, but it isn’t looking overly healthy, either.”)

Well, nowhere did I receive as much feedback as I did when I cross-posted that particular blogpost to the very active Virtual Reality group on Facebook, with over 47,000 members.  I got by far the biggest and best responses overall in this group. The members are great bullshit detectors overall, and I learned a lot by reading through the comments.

So many people made so many well-reasoned arguments that I wanted to post a follow-up on this blog, with a compilation of the best positive and negative comments. Where I explicitly received permission, I have attached the person’s name to their comments; otherwise, the comments are anonymous.

And yes, it would appear that this triggered a lot of people who got upset. I get that. From my perspective as a still-learning-the-ropes blogger (and a NON-gamer), I found that Drift0r’s video raised some interesting points I had not previously thought about it and merited more discussion. I got that back in spades! Thank you to everyone who responded.

One commenter shared a TED Talk by Los Angeles sculptor and street artist Zenka explains why she thinks VR and AR will have a huge impact on society:

I can recommend this inspiring 15-minute TED Talk unreservedly.

Some commenters thought my blogpost was clickbait journalism, plain and simple:

Such a clickbait title… of course its not dying. Sure, some in the industry have a goal that goes beyond the Moon… but how do you go from unreached goals to “VR is dying!”? Thats just stupid and wrong. VR is steadily growing and obviously not going away.

“Clickbait”? Well, maybe (I certainly did try to choose a title that would make people click through to read the article/see the video), but “journalist”?!?? Hardly. I do not consider what I do on this blog and what a professional journalist does to be the one and the same thing. I am an amateur VR enthusiast, and I do try to be as accurate as possible on my blog, but sometimes I miss the mark. This just happens to be one of those times.

A great many commenters took exception with the premise of Drift0r’s video that “VR is dying”. Here’s just a sample of opinion:

Although I can see how many in the game industry have reasons to complain. VR training for the cooperate sector is booming, we continue to get more and more clients and create experiences that are not only useful but really help people gain a better understanding of the task they plan to perform in the real world. We save companies millions of dollars in on sight training and offer something beyond games. The VR market is filled with people with complaints but it’s usually because they were too cheap to buy a quality setup. Not everyone drives a Ferrari, not everyone lives in a million dollar house, new tech requires financial investment and to think that over night everyone would buy a high end VR headset is just silly and unrealistic.

No its not all of VR. VR is starting to take off in the education sector. Now think about that for a minute. We are getting kids into VR early and done right it builds a fanbase.

Thank god our clients don’t agree with this article! There’s a lot more to VR than just game applications. Just ask the military, hospitality, healthcare, transportation, real estate, automotive… etc industries. Obviously the writer of this article needs to get out of the house more often.

And of course, in writing up my original blogpost, I had completely forgotten about the many good and useful non-gaming applications of VR, such as education and healthcare (e.g. the treatment of phobias). This was definitely an oversight on my part, and I’m sorry!

Raphael Baker commented:

I found his video raised all the cliche rhetoric I’ve heard over the past few years. He opens with a false statement about VR was supposed to go mainstream and it went downhill from there. His statements won favour largely with non-VR gamers who dislike VR and also people like himself who are unable to distinguish between quality VR titles versus unregulated amateur pish flooding steam. Even his critique of popular VR games was largely DECEPTIVE and unrepresentative of quality VR titles.

The problem is there is too much of that kind of crap posted about VR and people who don’t know better are easily swayed.

His whole speech was built on a false narrative that gaming VR had a course set for total mainstream infiltration within 4 years. That is absolutely insane but people just buy it automatically.

Those who understand VR including its much longer history than post oculus era; know that not even gen 2 will see mainstream adoption. 

Gerald Ferreira said:

So Here is my opinion – Posts like “VR is Dying” is attracting a lot of attention and people who is willing to invest in VR reads this bull, and then decide not to invest into VR because of bull post like this. In the end it is more damaging to the market than the clicks one receive for posting “VR is dying” articles. I am doing very well in the VR space, I have more clients that I can handle at the moment. My prices are good and my clients are happy and see the value, my biggest clients is marketing agencies, banks, entertainment and education.

Another person added:

If you want to be a successful social media blogger today, I guess you’re on point. If you want to write without using trendy blanket statement headlines and actually care to shed light on a medium you are (I hope) enthusiastic about, you have some work to do. Like Gerald Ferreira says, this type of clickbait is what turns people away from the medium.

Follow some actual VR streamers like Derky Sprawl or Rowdy Guy. Read some Jaron Lanier or Jeremy Bailenson for pioneer reference and history. Do your homework.

And I mean all that in the nicest way possible because you clearly enjoy writing and the industry needs good writers, but don’t confuse sensationalist backlash with constructive criticism. I look forward to your writings either way.

One person talked about how smartphone-based VR really did nobody any favours in terms of setting user expectations:

honestly talking from experience id blame mobile phone vr…while kind of cool at first.. it was one of the main reasons i didnt even care to try the more expensive ones like the rift…but after getting into projection mapping and 3d as well as augmented reality …i decided let me give this a try …..and now im hooked…but yea those cardboard / half ass VR devices i believe is sending the wrong msg while kind of cool im not spending all that money…even tho the rift and Vive are way beyond that level…honestly the way i feel right now about it i can shut up to people about it…so ive been doing my part to educate people that VR is more then just games.

This was a major discussion point 2 – 3 years ago. The general point being ” is smartphone VR good enough to be an entry point into VR, or is it going to sour the perception. ” Here we are a few years later and so far I’m going to say Sour the Perception. This is from talking to people at festivals showing high-end VR, and just talking to people far outside of the tech bubble in general.

Many whom I’ve talked to that had tried smartphone VR cases thought “what’s the point” and didn’t look any further.

Also as a VR dev who targeted the smartphone VR market for at least one published project: It’s very difficult to know if the software is working right across the hundreds of devices that are listed as good enough to play it. So one person might get a great experience with it, while the next it doesn’t play right.

And a few commenters said that they agreed with what Drift0r was saying:

I’d say VR is dead right now. But will make an awesome comeback in a few years, it’s inevitable. But currently my Vive is more used as a tool than a gaming system. I use mine for 3D modelling/creation, and VR racing. That’s about it. if I didn’t do simulation racing, I would probably regret my Vive purchase. Gotta say I’m quite disappointed with the softwear/gaming side of VR.

Yup. I was just in a meeting and brought our headset in. Client was like “I like it on a tablet, but hate those helmets”.

It’s got a long way to get, imho. Until the resolution is on par with HD it’ll struggle. No idea when that will be, but seems years away at the current rate.

He has some pretty valid points in my opinion. But I’d layer it with this lens… he’s talking about “desktop VR.” The one with the wire that costs a minimum of $1k to get into (for the average user). In that case, he’s on target. Sales of those machine/headsets/games are pretty disappointing when compared to traditional AAA title sales. That’s the folly of the whole argument… the market for desktop VR is desktop gamers with a budget. That’s all there is to say about that, really.

The real VR market is emerging right now… the one without wires, where the consumer experience is controlled like Android/iOS – by designers, not engineers. The one where the experience is so smooth that one person buys several (price point) so their friends can join them in the fun.

It’s not about games, though that’s important. It’s not about GPUs and specifications or which CPU is the most amazing.

It’s about the feeling that the user has when they put on the headset for the first time. That is the next generation of VR… and it’s beginning now.

One man, Robert Long, even shared his inspirational story of how he has lost 200 pounds so far by using VR games as exercise:

VR is going to be big. Sure it has had the most hype of all tech ever made. Well aside from quantum computers lol. It can take as long as it likes. Once Gen 2 comes out it will shake things up. The tech just needs to match the hype. And it is starting to with the new added tech such as suits that give feedback and even neural connections that move when you think to move. The 1-way end of course. But 2 way is going to change everything. The ability to send and receive signals with the CNS. But that 2-way tech is a long ways away from reality. Right now its limited thanks to the bulky head displays and huge controllers. But it is getting there. Point is. Once the tech is solid cheaper and they see people living inside their virtual avatars instead of real life they will get jellyfish and everyone will want them. Those graphics just need to match 4K and up and that will attract more people. Plus once more software companies get involved in making AAA games for VR only. That is when it will force people to get one. But the mobile units are doing pretty good to get people to get involved and want more VR stuff. So just sit back and relax. It will happen. I dropped over 200 pounds using VR. So if it can do that for people. You would be surprised how well it will do this upcoming year. With all the mobiles they have coming out that are pretty decent.

Not gonna lie. I have always dreamed of VR stuff my whole life. I see its bad and good areas. And sure we don’t come close to the hype at all. But the issue is not the tech really because it works fine for gen 1 consumer level. It is coming along at least. The issue is the games atm. They are nice and all but they really don’t make any VR only titles that are considered AAA games that everyone wants to play. The first place to sign a deal with a VR tech company that releases best sellers on consoles and they make it VR only and hype the living shit out of it to the point that you dream about playing it and hate those that do. That would be when I see VR taking off and getting the consumers and money they need to merge other tech needed to get it to where it needs to be. But like all guesses on what is coming it’s all best guess. Just like science. But so far I am happy. I was going to die and now I am healthy thanks to VR. Do you know what its like to have anxiety issues for a few months because you are healthy and don’t remember what its like to be healthy?. Well VR got me out that fat man prison I built for myself. So I love VR even more. But the point is my 2 cents and all. I think it is doing just fine. The price tag on the tech is a major issue atm. Like the vive pro. That 1600 bucks for a pretty decent setup is why people laugh at VR right now. Because no games that would even make you consider putting that kind of cash out does not exist. Say they created Red Dead redemption 2 for VR only. You can bet your ass people would be playing the hell out of it and showing it off. Next thing you know that Christmas everyone has VR. And we hit the next level for progress in the field. But like I said. Just my 2 cents lol.

And for the record yes I was being hard on myself. The car wrecks did cause depression and not being able to get around added to me getting to like 500 pounds. But at least I got only like 70 pounds to go and I am back where I was before the wrecks! And VR helped me do that. Gen 1 tech did that. I can’t wait to see what gen 2 tech can do.

https://www.vrfitnessinsider.com/robert-long-looses-138-pounds-playing-beat-saber-and-hes-still-going/

So, it seems pretty clear to me that VR still has a lot of life in it! VR is far from dying. Thank you to all the members of the Virtual Reality group on Facebook for the reality check!

Why I Am Leaving Facebook and Instagram

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This evening I finally made a decision. Last summer, I had shared VR pioneer Jaron Lanier’s 10 arguments for deleting your social media accounts on my blog, but I decided at the time that, while Facebook was evil, it was a necessary evil, a way to promote my blog and to stay connected with other people in exchange for being data-mined and sold to advertisers, and therefore I stayed put.

But after reading the latest New York Times report on how Facebook allowed other companies to access its users’ private information without their knowledge or consent, it was the last straw for me:

For years, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules, according to internal records and interviews.

The special arrangements are detailed in hundreds of pages of Facebook documents obtained by The New York Times. The records, generated in 2017 by the company’s internal system for tracking partnerships, provide the most complete picture yet of the social network’s data-sharing practices. They also underscore how personal data has become the most prized commodity of the digital age, traded on a vast scale by some of the most powerful companies in Silicon Valley and beyond.

The exchange was intended to benefit everyone. Pushing for explosive growth, Facebook got more users, lifting its advertising revenue. Partner companies acquired features to make their products more attractive. Facebook users connected with friends across different devices and websites. But Facebook also assumed extraordinary power over the personal information of its 2.2 billion users — control it has wielded with little transparency or outside oversight.

Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.

The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier.

I strongly urge you to go to the New York Times website (using the link above) and read the entire article. This is the latest of several damning exposés by the New York Times and other news media on just how much we have been abused—yes, I said, abused—by a social network where we are the product to be bought and sold.

I am fed up. I have had enough. And I am fighting back the only way I can: by shutting down my Facebook and Instagram accounts and deleting all of the data that Facebook has gathered on me. Here’s a link to another New York Times article that gives step-by-step instructions on how to do this. Here’s another article by Consumer Reports.

When am I doing this? At the end of the year. It will give me a couple of weeks to let everybody know, and for me—and them—to set up alternate arrangements to communicate with me, if they wish to do so outside of Facebook.

How is this going to impact me? Well, the biggest thing that I use Facebook for right now is to promote my blog in various Second Life and virtual reality communities on Facebook. I can find other ways to do that. I have also used Facebook to keep in touch with a wide range of real-life and online friends. I will find other ways to stay in touch with people.

As for Instagram, well, I barely use that anyways, so it won’t be any big loss.

But I have finally decided that enough is enough, that Facebook is no longer a necessary evil, but a true evil. And I will longer support it or participate in it, after the end of this year. I will continue to use and support the Oculus VR hardware. But I will no longer use any social media operated by Facebook (that includes Facebook Spaces, the incredibly lame social VR app they launched over a year ago). Using Facebook Spaces requires you to have a Facebook account, so it gets ditched as well. No great loss there either.

I will also be boycotting any service which requires me to have a Facebook/Instagram account to use it. (Thank God, I didn’t use Facebook to log into other websites whenever they offered that as an option. I always went the personal username/email and password route instead. That means that untangling myself from Facebook should be much easier for me.)

It’s going to be an adjustment. I’m going to miss communicating with many of you on Facebook and via Messenger. You and I are going to have to find other, better ways to communicate. Like email, texting/SMS, Skype, FaceTime and the telephone. Like this blog and its comments section. Like my new Discord server. I have lots of options available for you to get ahold of me.

I will be giving up traffic from Facebook to my blog, which was significant but not irreplaceable. I will find other places to promote my blog, other ways to let people know what I’m doing. You can sign up to get blog updates via email (see the left-hand-side panel, under FOLLOW RYANSCHULTZ.COM VIA EMAIL, right under the eight social media buttons). And I’ll be turning off a couple of those social media buttons, too.

goodbye

Good-bye, Facebook. It’s been a fun 13 years. But I no longer trust you, and I’m leaving, and I’m deleting my account and all my data before I go.

UPDATED: Which Social VR Platforms and Virtual Worlds Will Benefit from the Upcoming Standalone VR Headset Oculus Quest?

Did you know that you can help support my blog (as well as the upcoming Metaverse Newscast show), and get great rewards in return? Here’s how.


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As many of you already know, Oculus is releasing a new, standalone VR headset, the Oculus Quest, sometime this coming spring, 2019. Priced at just US$399, it is sure to be a popular option for people who are interested in VR, but who don’t want to purchase a more expensive VR headset solution like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

The Oculus Rift is meant to fill the space in the Oculus product line-up between their entry-level, lower-powered standalone VR headset, the Oculus Go, and the Oculus Rift, a VR headset with Touch controllers which requires a high-end Windows gaming-level PC with a good graphics card to run. (Unfortunately, there is, as yet, no satisfactory native virtual reality hardware solution for Apple Mac users, although there are native Mac desktop clients for virtual worlds such as High Fidelity and Sinespace.)

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If the Oculus Quest becomes very popular, those social VR platforms which can run on the Quest hardware may gain an advantage over those which require a full-blown VR headset and a higher-end computer.

I think it’s safe to assume that Facebook/Oculus properties such as Facebook Spaces and Oculus Rooms (or at least some version of them) will be available for the Oculus Quest on its launch date. Social VR platforms with simpler avatars and spaces, which already run on the Oculus Go (like AltspaceVR, Bigscreen, and vTime) will probably also be available for the Quest.

Surprisingly, Rec Room, TheWaveVR, and VRChat are not among the social VR programs that are currently available for the Oculus Go ( I searched for them on the Oculus Go apps store and could not find any mention of them.) It remains to be seen if the companies behind those three products will release versions which will run on the more powerful Oculus Quest.

In a discussion thread over on the official High Fidelity user forums, HiFi CEO Philip Rosedale stated back in October:

We are definitely going to get High Fidelity running on as many standalone devices as we can, and we love the Quest. VR will not find a large audience until the Quest and other devices (like the Mirage and Vive Focus) become widely available.

Talking to Oculus about the process now… stay tuned.

When asked for to provide a more recent update, Philip added:

Yes, we are working on the Quest, and hope to have High Fidelity ready to run on it for launch! Very high quality device.

I also don’t know what Sinespace’s exact plans are for the Oculus Quest, but Adan Frisby, their lead developer, said on a Facebook comment when I cross-posted this blogpost over there:

We’ll be fine with it too – anyone doing Android support will have an easier time of it.

So it looks like High Fidelity and Sinespace will indeed both be working with the Oculus Quest, if not right at launch date, then shortly thereafter. This gives them both an advantage over Linden Lab’s Sansar, which very likely will not be able to work with the Quest. There’s still a lot of data that has to get sent to and from a VR headset to properly render Sansar experiences (especially for any experience which has global illumination enabled), which would probably completely overload any standalone headset.

As I often say: interesting times ahead! Let’s hope that the Oculus Quest makes a big splash and brings even more people into VR. A rising tide lifts all boats, and many social VR platforms would benefit from greater consumer awareness and uptake of virtual reality in general. And I promise to cover all of it as it happens on this blog!

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

UPDATE Dec. 14th: Adeon Writer posted the following to the VirtualVerse Discord server (VirtualVerse is the successor to the long-running SLUniverse forums):

VRChat was just announced for the Oculus Store. While it already worked with Oculus on Steam, [the] OculusSDK version of VRChat means it will almost certainly be ported to Oculus Quest when it comes out, making it the first metaverse-style game available for wireless/unteathered/portable VR.

Thanks, Adeon!

UPDATE Feb. 11th: Since this blogpost was written, I have had someone tell me the following about VRChat:

Sadly, I don’t think VRChat’s gonna support Quest. It’s just not compatible with mobile CPUs. Hell, it brings modern up-to-date PC’s to a standstill with too many people. I very much doubt the Snapdragon 835 can handle all the custom shaders, avatars, IK, etc. The team would basically need to do a full rewrite. And that’s unlikely unless the team was way bigger.

It does sound as though VRChat would have to be pared down significantly in order to run on the Oculus Quest, if at all.

I also noticed that I have received a lot of traffic to this blogpost due to this post on the OculusQuest subReddit (which I had never heard of before today). If anybody over there has any inside information on social VR/virtual worlds that will launch with the Quest, I’d certainly love to hear about it! Thanks.

My Predictions For The Next Two Years

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Photo by Wyron A on Unsplash

I’ve been hanging around virtual worlds of one kind or another for over a decade now. I’ve seen them come and go. Some were spectacular failures that provided lessons for other companies. Others just kind of meander along, not attracting very many users or ever becoming very big (like the multitude of OpenSim-based grids).

What usually happens in today’s hyper-competitive computer applications marketplace, is that one or two players in a particular market segment get big (e.g. Microsoft, MySpace, Facebook, and yes, in its own way, Second Life), and then continue to grow like a juggernaut, based on the network effect, while the smaller players in the marketplace fight each other over the leftovers. The ones who get big are usually, but not always, the early entrants into the field (Second Life is a prime example of that, although there were notable virtual worlds which were founded before it, like ActiveWorlds).

But social VR and virtual worlds are not a zero-sum game. Many consumers are frequent visitors to a number of different metaverse platforms, and many creators build and sell products in various virtual worlds. Right now, success in one VR-capable virtual world (e.g. VRChat) generates interest in other social VR spaces. As they say, “A rising tide lifts all boats”.

It’s still not clear where all this is going, but I’m willing to polish my crystal ball and make a few predictions of what will happen over the next two year period, from now until April 2020.

What I predict will happen, over the next two years, is that one of the Big Five computer companies:

  • Alphabet/Google
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Facebook/Oculus*
  • Microsoft

Is either going to launch their own social VR/virtual world/metaverse product, OR is going to buy one of the Big Four metaverse-building companies:

  • High Fidelity
  • Linden Lab (Second Life and Sansar)
  • Sine Wave Entertainment (Sinespace)
  • VRChat

(We’ve already seen this happen with Microsoft’s purchase of AltspaceVR.) We could also see a company buy out a virtual world, just to grab the programming talent, and then shut the world down completely (as Yahoo! did with the promising Cloud Party).

Now, there’s no guarantee that any of the Big Four companies WANT to be bought out by the Big Five. Perhaps instead of a buyout, a strategic partnership deal will be inked. But I bet you anything that it’s tempting for the bigger companies to buy their way into the evolving metaverse marketplace, rather than design something from scratch.

I also predict that a LOT of the new virtual world/social VR startups we see popping up are going to fail over the next two years. There’s a lot of virtual-reality-related (and especially blockchain-related) hype taking place, and some people are investing in startups that are risky. Some smaller companies have jumped into grand virtual-world-building projects without realizing the sheer magnitude of the work involved in creating a fully-featured, viable metaverse. I’m afraid that some investors are going to get burned.

I also predict that Sinespace and VRChat are going to pull ahead in terms of features, simply because they decided to build on top of the popular Unity game engine, and they can use all the cool Unity development tools that are popping up. By comparison, feature development on Sansar and High Fidelity will be slower, as they continue work in-house on their own engines.

And finally, I expect that Second Life’s 15th anniversary celebrations will entice some former users to dust off their old accounts and revisit the platform to see what’s new. It may well herald a renaissance for SL! At the very least, it will help stave off a slow decline in SL’s user concurrency figures.

*Sorry, but as I have said before, Facebook Spaces is not a palatable social VR/virtual world product. It can’t even come close to competing against what High Fidelity, Second Life, Sinespace and VRChat are currently doing. But I bet you anything that Facebook has other plans up their sleeve. They can still try to leverage off their 2-billion-plus Facebook network (not to mention 800 million Instagram users) to become a potential major disruptor in the evolving metaverse marketplace. I’m not counting them out yet!