It’s time to stop doubting virtual reality


Investors, gamers, and game developers who are cold on virtual reality should look to the 2017 Game Developers Conference as confirmation that VR has legs. Developers don’t sound as clueless as they did last year, based on attendance at VR-related panels at GDC 2016 and GDC 2017. The difference is palpable.

The fate of virtual reality does not rest on the development of more advanced optics, higher framerates, and lower latencies, nor does it depend on the evolution of the three major VR hardware solutions, the HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, and Oculus Rift. The hardware is not what will ultimately determine whether investors in VR make the profits they’re seeking, and whether futurists see the day when VR is an ordinary, household technology.

Because the success or failure of VR is much more in the hands of the game developers providing content for all three platforms.

Consumer VR still rests mostly within the video game world, and so the platform is subject to the popular refrain among gamers when it comes to any new hardware: “But there’s nothing to play for the system!” (We’re seeing the same discussion play out right now in reference to the newly released Nintendo Switch.)