2016 has been the year of Virtual Reality with the Occulus Rift and HTC Vive already in stores, Playstation VR coming this fall, and even VR on Xbox One. Although there is much excitement over VR, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick thinks that the technology is too expensive right now for average consumers.
At the Cowen and Company Technology, Media, & Telecom Conference, the CEO of the Grand Theft Auto parent company told a group of investors “There is no market for a $2000 entertainment device that requires you to dedicate a room to the activity. I don’t know what people could be thinking. Maybe some of the people in this room have a room to dedicate to an entertainment activity, but back here in the real world? That’s not what we have in America.”
Zelnick does have a point about the cost of VR. Considering the headset will run you $600-$800 depending on which model you get, plus you need a computer that can run the technology which would be around $1000. That’s just for the basic set-up, if players want to move around in a Virtual World they’ll need an Omni Treadmill, which is another $700. Then of course you need space for all of this, and the catalog for VR games is small at the moment.
In May 2014, Zelnick said that VR has an audience with core gamers, but isn’t really popular with a casual audience. “I think for a core gamer, it could be a wonderful experience..” Zelnick said, “But a lot of people who play video games, for example my kids, they play with their friends sitting next to them, so that technology isn’t going to appeal to them.” Again, it’s a valid point from Zelnick considering that VR is restricted to the player wearing the headset. Sony might be trying to solve this problem by incorporating their Playstation VR with the PS4, allowing a group of players to share the headset display and the TV screen.
Since the Occulus and HTC Vive have launched, the VR market is in an interesting place. Much of the problem with VR right now, like Zelnick said, is that most consumers don’t have the money or space for full VR immersion. Starbreeze studios, the developers behind the Payday series, have the right idea with their announced StarCade VR Arcade. Arcades would be a great way to introduce a wider audience to VR, as they would pay a lot less and the VR games can be made simpler since they would mostly be played in short bursts. Although we would all like to be playing games like Skyrim in VR, it will be a few years before that kind of experience will be available to the average consumer.