Gamers tend to get on with the new trends in the industry, and virtual reality is relatively the last impactful trend we received in recent years. The biggest developers and studios chimed in to contribute to making virtual reality a viable gaming platform, but Oculus founder Palmer Luckey believes we are still very far from it being mainstream.

Luckey published a statement on his own blog post commenting on the current state of virtual reality in the gaming world. He described the number of hardware sales reported by Oculus, HTC, Sony, and other headset manufacturers are “meaningless.” Luckey believes even if VR headsets were given to ” every single person in the developed world for free,” there will still be a lot to do before it becomes a mainstream platform.

In the end, hardware sales are a meaningless metric for the success of VR. They matter only as a means to an end, a foundation to enable the one thing that truly matters: Engagement. Engagement is all that matters. Engagement is Everything!

This is just as true in the present day. Hardware sales get a lot of attention and speculation from analysts and consumers alike, but the real name of the game revolves around the number of people logging in and spending money each week, the life force that makes everything actually go. Recent market experiments with cheap VR hardware have shown that there are millions of people willing to buy said hardware, but very few among them continue to use the hardware or invest in the software ecosystem for very long. This is true even when people get the hardware for free – the millions of cardboard boxes fulfilling their ultimate destiny on the back shelf of a closet don’t do much for the VR industry. Why the lack of use? Quality of experience.

I want to take this a step further and make a bold claim: No existing or imminent VR hardware is good enough to go truly mainstream, even at a price of $0.00. You could give a Rift+PC to every single person in the developed world for free, and the vast majority would cease to use it in a matter of weeks or months. I know this from seeing the results of large-scale real-world market testing, not just my own imagination – hardcore gamers and technology enthusiasts are entranced by the VR of today, as am I, but stickiness drops off steeply outside of that core demographic. Free is still not cheap enough for most people, because the cost is not what holds them back actively or passively.

What do you think of Luckey’s statement? Is virtual reality really that far from becoming a mainstream gaming platform?

[Source: Palmer Luckey Blog]

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