Virtual reality is quickly shaping up to be the next big thing, with new headsets and apps available every month. Headset technology has come a long way and today’s developers are quickly producing stunning and memorable work in VR. This article seeks to explore where this medium is headed and how consumers will adopt this new and exciting technology.
For developers, it can be hard to justify the high up-front cost of creating a game or experience for virtual reality when there is currently a lower number of consumers compared to traditional digital media. With game budgets as high as they are, it’s vital that developers can make money back for all of their efforts.
Affordable VR headsets like Google Cardboard and the Gear VR seek to bridge this gap and bring virtual reality to consumers everywhere. Although the experience in these cheaper tools does tend to lack quality and presence, it introduces a wider audience to virtual reality. Plenty of 2D game developers focus solely on mobile devices due to the sheer number of users and potential revenue, so we’re likely to see a similar pattern occur with mobile VR. As the number of consumers increases, so will the number of developers.
Despite the hype and excitement, consumer numbers surrounding VR are relatively low. In the VR industry, we need to see an increase in consumer adoption before VR can really take off. Philip Rosedale, CEO of High Fidelity, compares the VR adoption curve to that of the smartphone. In his talk at the VRX 2016 conference in San Francisco, he states we will likely see billions of people using VR every single day within around 10 years.
Although this may seem slow if you’ve been reading up on virtual reality as the next big thing, it isn’t necessarily a shock. Virtual reality headsets are expensive and the technology itself doesn’t appeal to everyone. With motion-sickness problems and the stigma surrounding bulky, unfashionable headsets, some consumers need to be convinced that purchasing virtual reality equipment is the right choice. Just like the adoption of computers as a technology and trend, VR will shift from a nerdy hobby to a normal, everyday technology that’s both useful and fun.
Easier Development Tools
One of the major necessities for virtual reality to blossom is easily-accessible tools for creating virtual reality experiences. 3D software is difficult to learn, so there is a high barrier to entry in creating VR experiences. Taking a 360 photosphere can be a great starting point for the consumer to begin creating content, but it may not necessarily be “real” virtual reality.
To create 3D spaces you can actually navigate in the virtual world takes a whole lot of effort and expertise. From Blender and Unity to Substance Painter and Unreal, simply learning about the software options can feel overwhelming. The world of 3D modeling has yet to become over-saturated like the world of 2D illustration, simply because there is a much higher learning curve for the software involved. As tools become simpler to use for artists and programmers alike, we’ll see better, more compelling content emerge from developers worldwide. Just like learning about programming, screen scraping and software development, learning to create quality virtual reality content takes time.
Ultimately, it’s incredibly important that developers can reach a large amount of people. This is the next step in the future of VR because it enables content creators to spend more and earn more. As the rate of adoption increases and the developers’ barrier to entry lowers, virtual reality as an industry is sure to take off.