Updated: Jan 7
After years of dreaming of playing games in a virtual reality environment, headset and all. It finally arrived, and after 5 years, it still hasn't caught on. Despite it being such a popular concept and long-awaited dream by many gamers, it never became the future of gaming that many expected it to be. We can find several reasons for this be its high entry price, difficulty to set up, and limited to the pc marketplace. All of these problems have since been remedied with the release of the oculus quest two years ago, so why hasn’t it taken off still? With gaming taking off more than it ever has before, will VR ever see true success with Gen Z?
The original Oculus rift dropped in march of 2016, with excitement and hopes for the potential of the platform fizzling out soon after release with many decrying that the technology was simply not there yet. Many AAA publishers stayed away from VR, deeming it too risky of a financial endeavor to create big-budget titles for. This vacuum led to many indie developers creating smaller games for the headset. Generally one notes ideas such as realistic sword fighting or shooters for example. While novel, these games never amounted to much due to their limit in scope and budget. These games showcase the power of VR but rarely are able to go beyond the basic concept they presented. Coupled with the already steep level of entry, this greatly limited the number of people who could/wanted to experience VR.
The Oculus Quest would launch in 2019. A portable, cheaper, no pc-required version of the oculus rift. Allowing gamers to experience VR first hand for a more reasonable price at the cost of the graphics/power that a pc provides. This seemingly was the shot in the arm that VR needed but despite good sales of the platform, it didn’t quite get the reach that Oculus was hoping for. Still, the games never came. The release of Half Life Alyx would boost VR’s popularity for a short while but the industry would soon move to the next big thing as it tends to do.
VR would see its first massive success with the release of the Oculus Quest 2 in October of 2021. Due in part to the pandemic already turning many towards gaming, Oculus Quest 2 saw a surge of success, selling out quickly across the world. Oculus finally saw the success that it had long been searching for. Even with high sales, these numbers didn’t change the games on the oculus, still leaving much to be desired. As many would stop playing VR after a short while without a consistent stream of releases.
With all this in mind, VR finally was able to make a place for itself in the market with the Quest 2, although still not seeing long-term success just yet due to the lack of software. VR will only continue to be made more accessible as time goes on. Gen Z has already seen an attach rate to VR, with 12% using it daily, as found in a study. We’ve seen accessibility being the core of gaming. If you give players a way to play, they will come. Gen Z is eager to play, and with VR, the possibilities are endless. It’s up to publishers now to take the risk on VR if we are to truly last.