PC sales: For those wanting to get in on high end VR (Oculus CV1 or Vive), it can be quite an investment, as stated earlier between $1500-$2000 USD for most to plunk down (including headset) if they didn't have a good enough PC. This alone guarantees that the early adopters certainly would plateau. That's a lot of money. Consumers have shown they lots to spend $$$ on high end devices (hellooo smartphone and tablet markets!) but there's a limit.
In saying that, technology advances, less than 6 months after release we already have a GPU ATI 480 that sells for a couple hundred bucks. It will be the same for the rest of the requirements, where Oculus said 9 months ago a minimum spec VR PC would cost $999, now we are seeing them go around $675 http://www.pcworld.com/article/3117782/computers/tested-this-all-amd-650-pc-proves-vr-ready-rigs-dont-have-to-be-expensive.html
. Give it another year and we'll probably have sub $500 PC/Console able to run these. My crystal ball is showing me Xbox Scorpio is going to do just that (PS4 is going to do a decent job with PSVR but it's underpowered and can't do the same high end roomscale VR as the current PC solutions, especially compared with Vive). Regardless of the consoles, it's just a matter of a couple of years before a large majority of PC gamers will have a VR specs PC; right now, that's not the case.
Like any other tech, the HMD prices themselves will fall once further R&D and manufacturing improvements leads to better cost saving. This is standard in the industry and usually leads to increased sales passed the early adopters.
From websites I've read, many of the VR industry leaders had low expectations on VR sales for the first year, not because of their specific HD tech or prices but because of that PC spec min requirements. Oculus have stated this numerous times, the slow sales in the first year is expected (Jan 2016: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/01/oculus-founder-your-crappy-pc-is-the-biggest-barrier-to-vr-adoption/
. I don't have a link handy but I remember an Oculus rep specifically stating they didn't think VR might kick off very fast until CV2 is out which is in a couple of years.
I own both the Oculus Rift CV1 and the HTC Vive, caught the bug with the DK2 and for me anyway, there's no turning back. In saying that, VR mass adoption is unlikely because of real issues such as:
- people don't like not seeing around them, something stuck to their face is a big turnoff (current bulkiness is an issue overall)
- the headset adjustments between players is a hassle and a half, so local multiplayer suffers greatly
- Great VR gaming generally speaking doesn't really address the most successful genres (FPS and sports) due to locomotion restrictions.
- mass market gamers are into "push a button, device is on". The notion of having to put on a headset, adjust the straps, etc at the moment isn't for these gamers (though kudos for Oculus for having gone quite some distance in managing to do just that... as long as you aren't passing the headset to someone else)
- gaming wise, new platforms needs a killer app, presently there is none
- tech wise, it's very cool but for mass market they need higher resolution/less pixels and larger FOV
- as mentioned by others, haptic feedback is not what some expect *
- wires... freaking wires
So why am I all-in then?
- VR is awesome for online social gaming, unbelievable. Playing pool and ping pong in VR will never beat playing in real life but boy does it blow away standard pc gaming! The feeling of presence, even this early in the industry life cycle blows my mind and it will only get better from here
- Immersion can't be compared. Whether you play cockpit games, adventure games, shooters (not traditional FPS), there's nothing like it
- Right now, we don't yet have the killer app/game/experience released because that takes time and some of the AAA studios just started working on VR but that is coming, just a matter of time.
- Motion control: the technology may not be perfect but if you take it for what it is, it's incredible! I'm especially continuously impressed by the room scale tracking of the HTC Vive (and from what I hear, will be equality impressed with the Oculus controllers when they come out in two months). For anyone who tried the wii controllers, forget it, it's nothing like that.
- Haptic feedback *: It's better than people think, because the mind fills in the blank. When I play "Thrill of the fight" (a VERY early access boxing game), even though I'm not hitting a face, the level of presence along with the current haptic feedback (I think it has it! LOL) seems to fill in the blanks. Obviously it doesn't feel like I'm punching something but the mind is tricked. This doesn't work with everything but when its done right, it works better than you would think
- FOV/SDE: Yes the low FOX and especially the SDE (pixels or space between the pixels) is noticeable, more on the Vive than the Rift IMHO but still once you are in it for a while, you just don't notice it anymore. I liken it to playing classic arcade games, where I just don't see the low res others might see. To each is own...
- Eventually, like maybe 3-4 years from now, mobile CPU/GPU solutions will make wireless VR a reality and this will help considerably
Anyway what exactly should be considered a success here? Selling 1 million? 10 million? 100 million? Because of the "cons" listed above, I don't see 100 million as achievable but after normal VR spec PC adoption improves and prices go down, several is possible. But this is a moot point, Oculus and John Carmack believe that wireless is the end result of VR and I think they are right. Won't be for a while, but it will get there eventually and when it does, along with a less bulky headset/hopefully glasses, that's when the flood gates will open.
For the nay-sayers, some of you probably predicted the ipad was a passing fad As of March '16, they have sold over 300 million.
. Seriously though, don't compare motion control to wii and VR to the cheap solutions, it just doesn't compare. If you get a chance to try it (especially the Vive because of it's current room scale developed games), try it for at least 30 min, you'll see the technical limitations tend to just disappear.