Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus who left the company in 2017, recently published an article with his thoughts on what it will take for VR to reach the mainstream. Price, he argues, matters little if the experience is not keeping people coming back to the technology on a regular basis.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the piece published on Luckey’s personal blog this week comes just after reported priority shuffling at his former company, Oculus. Last week saw the departure of co-founder Brendan Iribe amidst reports that a significant upgrade to the Rift headset was cancelled in favor of a lesser iteration focused on keeping costs down.

Luckey’s piece, titled ‘Free isn’t Cheap Enough‘, argues that the number of headsets sold doesn’t matter if customers aren’t staying engaged with the product and using it on a consistent basis. “Engagement is Everything,” he writes.

“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,” Luckey writes to illustrate his point. “I know this from seeing the results of large scale real-world market testing, not just my own imagination [his emphasis] – 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 cost is not what holds them back actively or passively.”

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The “stickiness” he refers to is whether or not people are staying engaged and making regular use of the product. Engagement on a user-to-user basis doesn’t necessarily increase as cost decreases, he argues. Thus, making cost cutting a top priority doesn’t help in the long run.

Image courtesy HTC / Panora

“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. […] Why the lack of use?  Quality of experience. [his emphasis]”

Furthermore, Luckey believes that “No existing or imminent VR hardware is good enough to go truly mainstream, even at a price of $0.00. [his emphasis].”

He does however acknowledge that cutting costs can grow the size of the engaged audience, but “not to nearly the degree many people would expect,” he says. “Price is certainly a relevant factor in the rate of VR adoption, but not a dominant one.”

We reached out to Luckey to understand what obstacles he sees that are standing in the way of engagement, be they hardware, ease of use, content quality, etc.

“Most near-future major hardware advancements will be coming from the big players. The good news there is that most of the big players working on HMDs also run content platforms, so there is built-in incentive to make hardware that drives better engagement, even at the cost of sales or margin.” Luckey tells Road to VR. “On the developer side, people who focus on making engaging content that keeps users coming back despite the current limitations of VR stand to gain the most in the long run – keeping users will only get easier as time goes on and the hardware gets better. Five percent of a one million user market may not seem like a lot, but the network effects are likely to carry forward as the market scales to much larger numbers. This is one of the main reasons I am so bullish on Rec Room, VRChat, etc.”

He says that advancing the hardware and content is key, more important than just cutting costs on the same experience that’s been available for a few years now.

“Higher resolution, improved ergonomics that cater to a wide variety of users, and enough deep content to engage that same wide variety of users are all key factors.”

SEE ALSO
Oculus Founder Backs 'Revive'—a Hack for Vive to Play Rift-exclusive Games—With $2K in Monthly Funding

Luckey founded Oculus back in 2012, which was just a rag tag startup at the time it pitched the Oculus Rift DK1 development kit to Kickstarter. After quickly raising additional investment following the Kickstarter, Oculus was acquired just two years later by Facebook.

While Oculus was left well enough alone for a while, Facebook’s influence on the company has become increasingly apparent. Following a 2016 report which put Luckey’s polarizing political stance in the spotlight, he was shuffled within the company; around the same time Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe stepped down to head the PC VR division. In 2017, Luckey departed Oculus and Facebook entirely, and is presently building a new company, Anduril, which focuses on defense technologies, though he still regularly wades into discussion about the VR industry.

Luckey and Iribe, when both were still at Oculus

After moving to head Oculus’ PC division at the end of 2016, we learned just last week that Iribe himself is departing Oculus amid reports that an overhauled ‘Rift 2′ headset was shelved in favor of a more modest—and perhaps less expensive—’Rift S’ upgrade that’s purportedly due out next year. An anonymous source “close to the matter” told TechCrunch that Iribe wasn’t interested in a “race to the bottom” in terms of hardware and performance, but it seems that the higher-ups disagreed with his approach.

With that context, it seems that Luckey’s piece may be advocating for Iribe’s purported stance of wanting to push the hardware and experience further—with a focus on growing engagement over sales—before focusing on cost cutting.

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  • Jan Ciger

    Palmer has a point but I can’t help myself here – it is pretty ironic that it is him making these comments.

    Oculus has shuttered Oculus Studios while he was still there and it was him and Iribe who have sold the company to Facebook for a quick buck in the first place, even before they had a product on the market. So complaining today that there isn’t something to keep people engaged and that the Facebook beancounters want finally start seeing some easy profit from their investment is rather strange.

    And then there is all that stuff with him pouring his money into alt-right trolls that has put off a lot of people from even touching Oculus-anything for a while.

    I have two Rifts myself – DK1 and CV1, I have been very enthusiastic backer of the Kickstarter that actually brought Palmer where he is today. However, both my Rifts are mostly in their boxes today – there is simply no meaningful content that would make me want to spend money on it and dual boot Windows (yay for the “Linux support will be coming after the release” promises) for a bit of VR fun.

    I am really not interested in the endless shooters, zombies or kids yelling their lungs out in Rec Room (even though Rec Room is probably the best VR application right now). And paying $30-$50 for a game that is at best a 2-3 hours of gameplay compared to a regular “2D” game only for the privilege of having VR support is ridiculous.

    Most of the non-game applications available are just novelties – you try it once and there is no reason for you to come back to it – typically there is nothing in there that you couldn’t do without the VR with less hassle.

    Until the large game publishers actually start publishing real games for VR (not only gimmicks like Eve Valkyrie where the company then wonders why nobody is playing it), this won’t change. E.g. GTA, Starwars franchises, proper VR version of Elder Scrolls (not just the current one with a hacked in VR support) or Witcher, heck even the turn based XCom series could be amazing in VR. And Oculus with their Oculus Studios and money was uniquely positioned to make it happen. They shuttered the program instead …

    • care package

      This is why my Rift collects dust. Having owned the DK2 myself I swore I’d never play flat screen gaming again, yet that is where the AAA games stayed, and it’s where I went back to exclusively. My favorite experience in VR is still to this day an unofficial one. Alien Isolation.

      • the vast majority

        I wished they had Alien Isolation for psvr. That game was amazing.

        • FriendlyCard

          It’s true – if I were the devs or owners of the IP, I’d buy the VR mod and put it out on PSVR.

      • FriendlyCard

        If you had a CV1 rather than a DK2, you’d possibly be gaming on Rift exclusively, as most of us CV1 owners have. It’s vastly improved and the experience is much much better. If the Rift S is a real thing, that might make it worth it and be your ticket back into VR.

        • care package

          Sorry I didn’t clarify. I do have a cv1. I’ll still pick up a rift s for upgrades. Two of the things that keep me off are the heat and SDE

          • FriendlyCard

            Yes the SDE was offputting for me at first as well as godrays, but I’ve accepted it so now it’s ok with me. But I’d sure like a higher res Rift in the future. I don’t play long enough to get heat issues thankfully.

          • sfmike

            I’ll NEVER excuse bad god rays as they are VR cataract simulators. Even the GO has less than the old Rift.

    • Bob

      Now’s the time to watch Steve Balmer’s “Developers” speech.

    • I would recommend you try The Forest with a good friend, on a private server. It’s a wonderful survival game and very tense in VR. I’ve played well over 200 hours in CoOp with my friend.

      • Bryan Ischo

        I tried it but I found it frustrating. Lots of fumbling with finicky controls. I felt like if I put 40 hours into practicing playing the game and using the controls I could probably play reasonably well but I don’t have that kind of time to dedicate to learning how to play a game.

  • cataflic

    Again…ad again…the future of vr is…ar/mr.
    Only there can be unleash hell of advertising!…support…means money…money means investments…investments means hardware evolution til a human eye resolution experience.

    • sfmike

      AR is the true gimmick here. HMD readouts will be popular but the rest is way overrated.

      • jj

        no ar is not a gimmick

  • 3872Orcs

    Ah geez people! You have VR headsets that collects dust?! Are you people even playing the same games as me? Have some patience alright! There’s lots of quality games and content for VR. Just have look around! Cool stuff i releasing all the time! There’s certainly enough stuff to keep me plenty of occupied and happy. And the tech keep on improving yearly! We now have Vive Pro and Wireless, Pimax is almost upon us and on the horizon there’s stuff like StarVR which I consider a true generation 2 VR headset with enormous FOV, decent resolution and Eye Tracking! Both Valve and Facebook has triple AAA games in Production. It’s fine! Go play some VR and have fun! Seriously we’re actually on the VR road now! And it’s fricking working like I imagined as a kid in the 80-90s.

    • Maybe RoadtoVR could accumulate a list of the best games out right now, for single player and multiplayer? I would recommend The Forest for multiplayer. There are alot of very nice VR games popped up on Steam, all of the time. It’s hard to keep track of the best of them. (doesn’t help some of the best are still “in beta”)

      • ummm…

        the forest is great. but it wont keep people. didnt keep me. especially when it was missing MANY key features in vr. and i dont mean features like the forest, i mean like freaking ability to see UI etc.

        • I’m not sure what version you played, but the one I’ve played over the last few months works fine. The UI is in the backpack, they fixed the issue about not showing other players and markers, although not seeing them was more realistic. Being forced to use the backpack can make weapon switching a little slow, especially when you’re under pressure. The text window is missing, but the walkie-talkie works fine. The only thing that’s a bummer is you can’t easily add doors and windows like you can in 2D.

          The Forest is an intense, open-world survival game, and about the only one of it’s kind for VR right now. Seeking Dawn, for instance, is just a stat counter. If there are other open-world, co-op, survival games, my friend and myself would love to hear about them.

          • ummm…

            no i LOVED it. i spent 20 hours on it in a week and a half. i NEVER cared that much for it in SP. even the optimization was decent. but i dont play it anymore. for whatever reason. i preordered my vive, and still put in a lot of time in vr………less so now. the forest is not an example that proves palmer wrong. we all know there are gems in vr. but its not the norm.

          • ummm…

            i have both bethesda offerings. those are great. try those out. less survival element i suppose, but mods can help with that.

            also, the best vr app is eleven table tennis. everyone knows this.

    • Bryan Ischo

      Numbers don’t lie, and Luckey is basing his comments off of real numbers, not wishful thinking. I personally have a Vive Pro sitting collecting dust because I can’t be bothered to turn it on even when I have free time.

      Luckey’s conclusions certainly match my experience — I played VR like crazy for Fallout 4 VR, to the point where I felt it was worth it to upgrade to the Pro and Titan XP just to make my enjoyment of that game as good as it could be. But once I finished Fallout 4 VR (this was my first play through) I haven’t been able to get into anything else. I want to feel immersed in a world, not just briefly entertained by a small scope game for 10 minutes at a time. Without a really compelling experience I don’t even feel the desire to put the headset on.

      That being said, I am getting older now (46) and have found that game playing of all types has been falling off for me over the years, so that could have alot to do with it.

      • ummm…

        i preordered my vive 2+ years ago. i play less and less. went on the steam store the other day. lots of garbage. dont even check the releases daily like i used to. i have 100+ vr experiences and most gather dust. i love lucky for being hardcore enough to criticize. it looks like he is having real discussions and orcs wants to play the marketeer.

        • daveinpublic

          Rift may have been a better environment for you.

          • ummm…

            no its not. its the same thing. i still use my vive hours a week. go away. you are annoying me.

          • ummm…

            i also have revive. and my room scale solution……..it works, and its good.

      • Skippy76

        I highly doubt you have a vive pro collecting dust! Anyone that bought one owned the original vive or rift therefore you must have found a reason to upgrade. VR is absolutely amazing and everyone i introduce it to ends up buying a setup. I still think the main problem is lack of publicity!
        We need to see MORE advertisements and marketing!
        Imagine seeing Vive or Oculus promotional videos during the superbowl or other large events!

        • Bryan Ischo

          Like I said, I bought the Pro while I was intensely into Fallout 4 VR. Once I finished Fallout 4 VR, I haven’t found anything to really get me back to using it. I have already played through Skyrim twice and just can’t get excited about the VR version, as good as it is.

          • Skippy76

            Onward, War Dust, Contractor, Beat Saber, Call of the Starseed, The Forest, I expect you to die, Budget Cuts, Doom VFR, Star Trek flight crew.. Man.. The list goes on… Raw Data.. Rec Room.

      • Baldrickk

        Can I have your dusty Vive Pro then?

    • vtid

      Same here. I saw vr on Gamesmaster (British gaming TV show in the early 90s) as a kid and VR is just what I’d hoped it would be. I’ve had a cv1 sin E release and I still use it most days, even if just for 10 minutes. There is SO MUCH great content out there. I’ve learned real life skills with simulator apps, I love audio visual apps and games like Lone Echo are incredible. I see people moan about lack of aaa games and it makes me think 1) They’re missing most of the point of VR in that it’s not just about games, and 2) They’ve not explored a lot of the content that’s actually out there. I am as much a vr enthusiast as I was when I got my Rift. I love it.

      • 3872Orcs

        I built my first VR headset out of Lego as kid :p And Imagined myself infiltrating secret Cobra bases as a custom built G.I. Joe character from the comic Action Force. Now I can do stuff like that in VR! I also do dabble with unity and Unreal engine making my own stuff, so maybe it’s the creative molecule in me always keeping me engaged… I guess not everybody has that going for them. And as you say VR is not just about the games. I play lots of games of course but I also spend a lot of time just hanging out in Social VR, experiencing all that crazy stuff, watching YouTube or role-playing as different characters. Oh some of things I’ve seen and experienced in social VR, hilarious stuff! And then there’s the multiplayer games and trying to hunt those high scores. People are far too good at those games compared to me though, but it’s great fun trying to reach the top non the less and exhilarating when I actually manage to pull off some impossible acrobatic feat and winning :D

        • vtid

          Yes, I was also going to say that often a little creativity and imagination whilst using vr, can make immersion much greater. Myself, I’m a very creative person. This possibly helps me take vr to a level that some others (your average gamer) wouldn’t. I wouldn’t even class myself as a gamer. I hope this comes across as I intended, and not as some stuck-up comment.

          • ummm…

            i think you missed the bullseye. vr isn’t necessarily like playing with soldiers. you are supposed to be immersed in tha reality. i have had vr since consumer launch. there is CERTAINLY reason to criticize especially when you look at the vr experiences on offer. from bad ports, to cash grabs, to EA garbage, to great ideas but buggy amateur messes, to limited ROI there are issues. the programs have been awful. look at the steam vr program releases every day. it is absurd.

          • vtid

            I was replying directly to someone, not about the article itself. I agree that steam is, and has always been filled with lots of crap vr software, but you can say the same for non-vr software too. I DO get immersed in vr. I’m not really sure I get what you’re trying to say to me. Sorry.

          • daveinpublic

            I think the problem may be that you have a Vive, and are upset by all the crap ware infiltrating the Steam store. The Home store is more curated, not as artificially inflated or gimmicky. Don’t gage the entire VR experience off of Vive, there may be hope yet.

          • Skippy76

            Nothing wrong with owning a Vive brah! There is a lot of junk i agree but there also a lot of awesome indie experiences! Without it, you would not have awesome games like Onward or call of the starseed. I also have the oculus store and revive installed so I can get stuff from both sides. I think whats also kills VR is exclusives..

          • ummm…

            i suppose you should then cede ground to psvr who curates and has an even more closed garden!!!

    • ummm…

      you are deriding ve hardcores because we see value in his statements? you challenge the young man who believes in it so much to help make it so? we all spent the money to get it because we like it. doesn’t mean that 2+ years on from consumer launch we dont have criticism. chill the eff out.

  • This article has alot of merit about a year ago, but in the last 6 months I’ve seen some *VERY* good, very meaty VR games come out. Games like The Forest, and recently War Dust, have been absorbing hundreds of hours of my time and the time of my friend. Before then, I was really absorbed in Fallout VR and Skyrim. There has been a lack of meaty VR games up until recently, but that has been changing for the better.

    What he is *VERY* wrong on is price. And not just the price of the headset, which at $400 for Oculus’s set, is still a bit high: It’s the price of the GPU that is just KILLING the PC market.

    I have a $600 card from 2 years ago and I’m dreading another replacement. I know at least 5 people who are lusting after getting their own serious PC-VR rig going, but the GPU cost has just killed that dream for now.

    With the current lack of forward movement in eye tracking and FOV rendering, the GPU power gap for eye-resolution HMD’s isn’t going to get better anytime soon. The GPU makers know they have a ripe market for new cards for YEARS to come, so they aren’t really too keen on doing anything to help low-end video cards work better. After a low end card gets good framerates at 4k, there isn’t much of a future for GPU’s. Ray-tracing means nothing to me. VR is the only high-demand market for discrete GPU’s in the future, and I’m certain companies like nVidia know it.

    Personally, I’ve been fine with 1080p gaming on a budget for over a decade. VR is the *ONLY* reason I built a power-rig recently. Outside of the absurd salaries in Silicon Valley, most of us are living paycheck-to-paycheck. It takes alot of justify even a $400 video card. GPU is not only the bottleneck for performance in VR, but the bottleneck for price as well!

    • brandon9271

      The GPU market is insane. We need AMD and Intel to step up their game against Nvidia. Yes, I said Intel. :) They’re supposed working on some beefy, dedicated GPUs and the market needs them to.

    • John Smith

      Wrong, I have a GTX770 which can be found for $100 on the used market and it works perfectly fine and even supersamples up to 2.0 resolution for most games. A $200 GTX1070 is more then adequate to run in VR.

      • daveinpublic

        Luckey says VR won’t reach mainstream and then says the caveat that main stream means over 40 million users. I think that’s obvious that current VR wouldn’t hit that number, but I don’t think the current generation will be unsuccessful or not begin to be main stream. I think it’s crappy of him to try to create headlines by putting down current headsets with sound bites that make VR sound underwhelming, and then define mainstream and success as 40 million. He did a good job by getting VR into the public conscious, but now he needs to sit down, because he sold off his golden goose to an Ad company, and now he doesn’t get to be a part of this conversation. Because he doesn’t have anything else to offer, no more studies he’s a part of or hardware tooling, and needs to say controversial things to remain in the news and act like he still has some wise insight on VR because he’s the father of it.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Uhm, a GTX770 isn’t perfectly fine for powering VR games. and $200 GTX1070 only for used cards.. I’ll never buy a used GPU, especially not in the 10xx range because you don’t know what it was used for (bitcoinmining severly limits it’s lifespan). GPU’s really are the problem if you want highend headsets. personally $200-$250 is the most I want to drop on a GPU.. that’s why I still have the GTX760, and it already has problems enough driving the DK2 I won.

    • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

      “What he is *VERY* wrong on is price.”

      Some of us will never buy an Oculus HMD nor Oculus software created by a company that stood by and did nothing when their founder financed an alt-right group.

      Palmer lied when the Daily Beast reported on his involvement with Nimble America and Milo Yiannopoulos. Palmer even lied about being a Trump supporter. Here he is at a Trump rally:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3yeuSbHXeo&app=desktop

      Don’t support Oculus. Google Oculus Trump.

      • ds

        Someone’s political preference has no bearing on their VR expertise. You have just committed Ad Hominem. Congrats.

      • Smokey_the_Bear

        The vast majority of tech leaders (not saying Luckey is in that group) are left wing. So your saying they should ALL be left wing? You realize a large portion of the country likes Trump…right?

      • Pasi Ripari

        You are so full of hate. Trump supporters aren’t all bad people. You’re as bad as a hardcore racist if you think so. And you obviously do. You’re messed up man.

        • WyrdestGeek

          Trump supporters might not all be bad people. But, to the extent that they support Donald Trump they’re at least the victims of very bad ideas.

          And if they support Yiannopoulos and shitposting, then they’re either white nationalists or else cut from that special Machiavellian troll cloth that just does not give a *f-ck* how they get power just so long as they get it.
          —-
          But having said that– Palmer did eventually get pushed out of Oculus/Facebook. And his Magic Leap teardown seemed full of #truth.

          I hope Palmer stays out of politics, at least publicly, going forward.

    • Zachary Scott Dickerson

      I think price is correct in a way. Oculus Quest is what spurred his article. I think he’s bitter to not be part of it anymore, so I could give a shit about his opinion now. Quest solves price, wires and content, all in one swoop next year. We shall see.

      • dsadas

        if they were really serious they could have at least put an 845 in it that being that by the time the quest releases there will already be phones with 855. It’s the same story as oculus go… 2 generation old CPU…

  • Colin Mason (Dominixise)

    Well all this news of Vr is not doing so good eh. I spent alot of my money on the latest Vr kits and like it lots. I usually get my games and software on sale which I like. I just bought NIghtstar : StarFighter on steam for a dollar and was 90% off. Go figure, its an unbeatable deal.I have so many games to play now after having my HMD’s for 2 years that I don’t even know which one to play, but I usually take a break if I can’t beat the level or part I am stuck on.

    I am keeping my Vr equipment till I die in the grave, I LOVE all of it. Thanks so much! There is so much more to come into the tech arena I know that forsure but VR is kinda dreamy.

  • JesuSaveSouls

    It’s true it’s not for everyone.I know people that received free daydreams and gear vrs that never used them.That said, when smart phones came out not everyone was interested as well as computers and pcs at all.Facebook wasnt popular either at first but trends started as it grew

  • impurekind

    And I do agree with him to a large degree, but I’m not in the rich bracket like he is and I also actually wanna experience VR too, and now, as I’m sure many other people do too. So, the focus can’t just be on pushing the latest and greatest tech out their either, because then only the rich elites of the world would be able to enjoy the amazing wonders of VR, and that would be a terrible thing imo. So, make both high end expensive VR headsets, for those people who can afford that, as well as slightly lower end and more affordable headsets too, for those people who really want to get into VR but can’t afford to spend $300-$3000 or so, and I think everyone wins in the grand scheme of things. For me, the specs of something like the Quest seem pretty good for the price, and I’d be happy enough with that VR experience for now–and even that price is still too high for me to actually be able to afford it right now. And that’s the kind of battle VR has to overcome right now. I do want the best VR possibly has to offer, but if I can’t actually afford it then it sort of means little to me on a truly personal level. I’d rather have a slightly lesser experience that I can at least afford, if that’s the choice I have to make. Hopefully one day, however, and ideally sooner rather than later, I’ll be able to have both.

  • Master E

    Valid points

    I’m an admitted enthusiast, but one of the drawbacks is it’s not amazing enough to cut yourself off from the world around you over and over.

    TV
    Even gaming on a TV I can still interact with my family on a much easier level in the real world at the drop of a hat

    Put that headset on and I’m cut off in my own world.

    Which is fine by me sometimes, but I might not use VR because I still need to be connected to the real world on some level more than what it offers me.

    Perhaps it’ll take just such an advancement that VR is a pair of sunglasses and a simple voice command flips you into your reality or some mixed AR/VR on the level of Ready Player One. Where things are just so good all forms of entertainment and use of real world tools are nothing in comparison.

  • Well, I completely agree with what he says. Cardboards and Gear VRs were free but no one was using them

    • Unimpressed

      Those were little more than glorified phone holders to watch movies with. Without properly tracked controllers they were garbage. If I receive an Oculus Quest for free for instance I would use it forever and ever.

  • kuhpunkt

    I understand that he’s maybe kinda important in the history of mainstream VR, but do we really need reports like that? He’s a racist. Plain and simple.

    • gothicvillas

      You are racist

      • kuhpunkt

        You are racist.

        • Really? Why is he?

          • brandon9271

            Because he’s delusional.

          • kuhpunkt

            He directly supports Steve King.

          • Skip

            Really!?

          • kuhpunkt

            Yes.

  • gothicvillas

    For me narrow FOV for current headsets is a killer. I still pull out my Vive and psvr almost daily. But Every time I do it, I can’t help but think FOV is total garbage.

    • sfmike

      Especially after trying a Pimax headset even with it’s limitations.

  • Adil Hadri

    The current VR head set generation not offert me yet the immersion that I was looking for. About me is not matter if the content or the game was small or AAA… I just need to feel the presense in another virtual world.
    So I’am waiting for the next generation that makes big FOV, hi resolution, 3D with multiple planes focus.

  • Rodgerroe

    The headset will need higher resolution and FOV if I truly wish to enjoy all that VR porn.

    • sfmike

      Resolution is high enough to get you off now and more FOV won’t make it better. Just need more creatively created videos.

  • ummm…

    i like his articulation………but why defense tech? seems like he just wants to play with the big boys and big boy money. i dont use this lightly, but military industrial complex anyone?

  • James Clerk Maxwell

    Two major sources of discomfort are putting an enormous friction on VR, and prevent it from accelerating.

    1) Visual / vestibular mismatch : VR has strong physiological side effects on a non-negligible percentage of users with games implementing artificial locomotion, causing nausea and headaches.

    2) To a lesser extent, vergence accomodation conflict causing eyestrain

    Once those two physiological hurdles are cleared, people will be able to immerse in VR and recommend it to their friends and families.

    The source of discomfort must be solved. Once the discomfort is cleared, the incredible immersion that this medium provides will get unleashed.

    That’s the way to a positive runaway chain reaction.

    • Pessimist

      This!!!
      What’s the point of any VR if you can use it only for an hour and then suffer a headache.

      Everybody I give it to try had problems with it to some extend. Health and comfort-wise it just plainly sucks and the stuff most people here are wishing for
      like retina resolution, full FoV, eye tracking or whatever will not save it.

      I wonder whether it is even possible with flat screens. I am kind of losing hope this will go anywhere :(

      • daveinpublic

        I think they just need to focus on comfort and it will begin to take off. As the headsets get lighter, and I think the FOV needs to get larger because it feels too confined while it’s on, also it seems like there’s a small sweet spot with the lenses which can be uncomfortable. Artificial locomotion is uncomfortable, especially when you first try it, and hardly anyone is going to want to play enough to get through that learning curve. Wouldn’t be surprised if the pancake lenses could solve the sweet spot and FOV. Game designers will need to change their approach to make locomotion feel better, like different genres of games that more uniquely compliment VR. Also, need to move to a halo design to get the weight off of your face. Like you guys, I feel like resolution is not the bottleneck. Would be nice to have it, but the bottleneck is comfort.

        • Pessimist

          Never heard about pancake lenses. Does any company trying them in VR?

          Anyway, while bigger sweet spot would be nice, I think the display tech is the biggest problem, at least for me. And I am not talking about resolution or SDE.

          It’s that light. It’s just unnatural. The color, brightness, saturation it’s just off. And it has too much energy, even when you are in the dark. It reminds me flying on a plane and looking down from the window at the white clouds and receiving all that sun light energy from the reflection.

          I originally though might biggest issue is vergence/accomodation (and was really happy when FB had their piece of solution in HalfDome prototype, yet concerned because it sounded like they designed it only for near plane), but then as an experiment I tried few times playing one eyed and the eye strain difference between the closed eye and the opened one convinced me there is something very very wrong with the idea of pushing the current display tech right in front of my eye.

          But maybe it’s just me. Different people, different problems…

      • Andrew McEvoy

        Really? I can play for hours with no issues. Ive also demoed my CV1 and Vive to a good 50 people over the years with no discomfort at all.

        • James Clerk Maxwell

          Did you play games with artificial locomotion ? Or perhaps you only demoed roomscale games ?

          Because large scale statistics can’t lie. The lack of engagement is telling. The source is discomfort.

          I can’t play Skyrim more than 10 minutes with maximum comfort options enabled.

          Simulator sickness is to the VR market what the iceberg was to the Titanic.

          Thist must be addressed ASAP.

          • Andrew McEvoy

            Yep thats both full locomotion and room.scale games. No issues. Theres also a Vive in work thats been used by colleagues and clients alike with no issues. Ive put in about 200 hours now into Skyrim and 100 or so into Fallout4.

            It sounds like you are just one of the unlucky ones thats a bit sensitive. I dont mean to sound mean by saying that just well, look at it this way I demoed the dk1 to my dad a few years back and he tried war thunder on his first go. 3 hours later he had to stop because he got a cramp in his leg due to all the crazy body contortions he pulled trying to keep his eye on enemy planes. This is my 65 yo Dad who never games beyond solataire.

            To be fair, if 10 minutes playing a game made me feel ill I would think its the biggest issue to befall vr. I would also make loud noises about it online in the hope things change. But for most of us lucky ones its not a big deal at all.

          • James Clerk Maxwell

            Thanks for your reply.

            We are approaching VR + 3 years…The numbers are in.

            The unlucky ones seem to be the majority of users from what reality tells us

            Peoples have bought VR hardware and a significant portion of them are stopping using it. I trust this is not a content issue.

            My contention is that the discomfort is the main issue.

            My 70 yo dad also had no issue with VR whatsoever, he’s a big traveller.

            But try Dreadhalls or any game featuring smooth locomotion on a newbie, most of them will blanche in a matters of minute, if not seconds.

            The locomotion issue should not be pushed under the rug.

            It is the iceberg sinking the VR Titanic, even if the orchestra is still playing on the deck :-)

            Dont get me wrong : VR is the most immersive experience ever brought to the public. But this immersion has a flip side : it is uncomplete (vestibulo/visual conflict)

            This has to be addressed head on.

          • Andrew McEvoy

            It’s weird , it’s like we are from different dimensions or something. I genuinely 100% am telling you the truth that nobody that Ive demoed my Vr setups to had any issues. We are talking every type of game here. Its not that I dont believe you its just my experiences dont tally up at all.

            If vr motion sickness is holding people back from buying a HMD then thats mainly down to people who are online claiming that everyone barfs after a few minutes. That used to irritate me but now Ive notice its tailed off somewhat as more and more people actually try it for themselves.

            For me the biggest issue VR has is a social one. Its perceived as a loner experience, one you cant share or would feel awkward being in a room experiencing when others arent. Its just not got that cool factor. Also lets be honest you look like a proper doofus when you wear a headset.

            I think there’s a lot of people out there waiting for the prices to drop and the tech to improve. They see us early adaptors as just that, headbangers who are paying way over the odds (much more than they would be able to justify to the other half anyway) to enjoy the tech now. I know of several people in work who are doing that.

            And finally before I head off to enjoy some dinner with the wife, most vr games nowadays have options for whatever play style you want (full locomotion/teleportation/variations) so you just pick what suits. No more problem. Nothing needing to be swept under the carpet. It never was swept under the carpet for that matter..(kudos to the devs out there! you listened.)

  • What put me off is the limited area to use it at home. Some users have a very limited space to build a play area. I managed to have a nice outdoor setup by converting a gazebo to a VR room. You can check at https://youtu.be/AkQOIhVt7bE

    Unfortunately, I can’t be doing it all the time I want to play because is time-consuming also almost impossible to setup when is cold or raining.

    • Sandy Wich

      Do what I did and get a really high quality bar stool and run the wire above your head. limited space, full immersion, and you can wiggle quite naturally while playing a game and it feels like your still moving >:D

  • Sandy Wich

    No content = No adoption

  • Ombra Alberto

    i agree

  • FRED

    My problem with Oculus is FACEBOOK! I cancelled my FACEBOOK account . Even though I own a note 8, I threw out the VR headset.. I am an avid gamer but there will be NO oculus anything equipment for my gaming.FACEBOOK wants to push the Anti-American leftist agenda, they will be doing it without me – a Vietnam veteran, who loves my country and the flag.

    • Meow Smith

      bone spurs

      lol you are crazy as hell, You hate half your country and love a certain other flag from the past, stick to just destroying your own country this time around, leave the rest of the sane world out of it.

      • FRED

        Half the country is not communist OR a dictatorship that wants to do away with the Bill Of Rights, and it will be the uninformed and people who have NEVER experienced the type of censorship that most of the world has to live by, like you, that is destroying our great country.

        • Rob H

          Legitimately, the rest of the world right now considers the USA a complete joke. You lost all respect that America had built up over the past century to become what was considered THE greatest country in the world, to being a complete laughing stock in just 2 short years. Just watch your president’s speech at the UN if you don’t believe me, literally all the world leaders laughing at what was once considered the leader of the free world xD I often wonder how the fuck people are THAT dumb that things like Brexit were ever voted for, but here you are showing the world just how few braincells the human body can survive with.

          “NEVER experienced the type of censorship that most of the world has to live by”

          You current President is literally trying to silence the press daily, stating everything he doesn’t like is “fake news”, regardless of whether or not it actually is. Ever seen the meme “Woman shocked that leopard ate her face after voting for the face eating leopards party”? Pretty fucking apt in your case.

          • FRED

            Real Americans consider YOU A JOKE!

          • Rob H

            You sound tilted dude, must be due to all those Mexicans crossing the border because you haven’t built a wall yet, or is it because of that pesky fake news again? Maybe its because of Iran for some reason this time, or wait, maybe its because of those damn lefties? Who knows? Well, literally everyone knows but you apparently, maybe that’s why you’re so mad. Maybe when you engage your brain and actually decide upon what you’re even upset about and specifically why, maybe then someone, somewhere, might actually want to have a conversation with you :) Doubtful though as they’ll still be struggling to keep a straight face.

          • FRED

            I’m a regular American, not a GLOBALIST, the Mexicans can stay in Mexico and we WILL have a wall with a BORDER. Make sure you vote on the special day for communists , illegal aliens, people who hate free speech, and gun ownership, people who hate America and its Constitution, people who like killing babys (abortion), people who hate police and the military, and lastly if you’re a Democrat – make sure YOU vote on Wednesday!

          • Rob H

            LMFAO, I knew that’d provoke the same rehearsed bot like response from you as literally not one person who holds those views can seem to actually think for themselves xD What’s even more hilarious is you still don’t understand why people laugh at you – No point in trying to have a rational conversation with someone who lacks the brain capacity to even understand the topic of conversation. keep being the unintentional clown to the rest of the world, it’s pretty entertaining tbh. Watching the news has turned into a surreal reality TV show when it comes to news about the US. I mean, just look at you xD raging away in a roadtovr forum with your tin foil hat on, putting random words in capital letters because you don’t realise how absolutely retarded that’s making you look.

          • FRED

            What’s even more hilarious than your hilarity will be the midterms , when the normal people vote and you discover they were all laughing at you and all the other liberal loser morons.

          • Rob H

            “whats even more hilarious than your hilarity”…is your complete inability to use the English language apparently XD I couldn’t give a shit about you midterms, like I genuinely couldn’t care less along with the 99% of the worlds population that doesn’t live in America, yet another thing braindead Americans seem to have difficulty grasping as a concept. The only influence it has on my life is the fact it’s entertaining at this point to watch the embarrassment of a leader you voted into power. Rest of the worlds been cleaning up his dribble since the day he got into power.

          • FRED

            Trump is the greatest president ever. A genius on top of that and he HAS made America great again !

          • Rob H

            Exactly the kind of comment that made every other world leader laugh at you, kinda sad how you still don’t understand why people are laughing at you xD

          • FRED

            I guess if I’m getting some many laughs I should start my standup comedy world tour!

          • FRED

            One moron after another

          • Rob H

            Yeh sure dude, must be the entire rest of the world that are “morons” for laughing at a nation that managed to go from a world respected superpower to the laughing stock of the UN in just 2 years, and not the voters of southern USA that put him in power that’s so renowned for their absolute idiocy, even fucking spongebob’s Patrick made fun of how dumb they are! XD Keep drinking to coolade kiddo :)

          • FRED

            The real joke is the U. N. . Why don’t they just call it what it is – a gaggle of tyrants and screwballs who hate Israel and the U.S. and are constantly promoting lunatic theories, like global warming and ” the holocaust never happened “!

          • Rob H

            Erm…what?! LMFAO, you really are the dumbest human being I’ve ever come across. Many countries support Israel in the UN, not a single country there denies the holocaust and global warming is a scientifically proven theory, much the same as gravity is a scientifically proven theory, so do you not believe in gravity either? Seriously dude, seems like the country your so proud of is seriously lacking a decent education system..OH WAIT, the rest of the world has known that for years. Hence why your system is ranked 14th despite being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, behind even the likes of Poland xD

          • FRED

            What planet do you live on? Planet Moron? How many of these idiots are there sitting in their mom’s basement pontificating about things they have no knowledge of whatsoever???

          • Rob H

            Planet Earth, you know the one where literally every other nation on it laughed at the leader you elected when he’s trying giving a serious discussion at the UN? That planet. And, I’m a homeowner and haven’t lived with my parents since I was 18. Guess that explains why you’re so out of touch with the real world. “they have no knowledge of whatsoever”…you literally just said the UN are holocaust deniers HAHAHAHAHA, you couldn’t write this shit. Like seriously, how are you this dumb???

          • FRED

            This idiot , the U N DID DENY THE HOLOCAUST, just repeats the the same misinformation over and over, besides living in his mom’s basement he must be a propagandist for the U N!

          • Rob H

            What fucking delusional reality do you live in? Here’s the link to the UN’s own website:
            https://www.un.org/press/en/2007/ga10569.doc.htm

            Here’s a quote from it:
            The General Assembly today adopted by consensus a resolution condemning, without reservation, any denial of the Holocaust, with the United States, among the text’s 103 sponsors, stressing that to deny the events of the Holocaust — one of the most tragic moral catastrophes in history — “was tantamount to approval of genocide in all its forms”.

            Like seriously dude, how can you be THIS dumb? It’s mind boggling xD

          • FRED

            The U N just like you is a piece of shit.

          • Rob H

            Sorry you’re butt hurt because I proved your braindead statements to be incorrect.

          • FRED

            You proved you are a piece shit and you love in your mother’s basements , go home to mommy crybaby!

          • Rob H

            Wow, seems proving your braindead statements to be wrong really upset your mental wellbeing to the point you can’t even make a legible sentence anymore :(

    • Andrew McEvoy

      And blocked.

  • kuhpunkt

    I’m not racist, I’m not a Nazi.

    • brandon9271

      No shit, Captain Obvious.

  • hugorune

    Palmer is so right! I don‘t care about hardware or software costs! I want quality and in 120fps and Retina resolution!

  • Skip

    I think he has a point about mass consumption of VR for game experiences. This is less of a concern for folks using VR for other than games (OTG) purposes. In our work in healthcare, we are seeing the industry competition to produce better hardware, while not having a giant impact on games and entertainment (as much as I love VR games and spherical video experiences), providing the tech capability that is even now currently sufficient to do great mental health, rehab, medical, and educational apps. This is a different world/market than that of entertainment. The clinical VR experiences can be brief, you don’t have to have triple A graphics to engage patients, and we don’t need to prove that patients will use VR religiously everyday to have a good clinical impact. Thus, if all VR development ceased tomorrow, we would have enough to keep us going clinically and educationally for a long time down the road. An exclusive focus on measuring the success of VR by how well it impacts the gaming market casts a blind eye to its value in these important, albeit smaller, use case domains. Christ, I can deliver therapeutic experiences on a Samsung Odyssey or even an Oculus Go, that would have cost tens of thousands just 5-10 years ago (think companies like NVIS, Kaiser Optic Electric Pro View, VR Research, etc) and those expensive options still would have been a mega step down compared to what we have available today. Not sure what the solution is for the wider market of entertainment, but I hope folks keep trying to innovate and solve that challenge, as these OTG areas can only continue to benefit from lower cost, higher fidelity VR displays and interfaces that are now having a growing impact on healthcare and education!

  • Ghosty

    I don’t see what the issue is with pushing the hardware… We have eye tracking, we have foveated rendering, we have wider FOV, we have better screens, and we have better video cards… All the pieces are there for a second gen HMD… Not pushing that through is a big mistake for Oculus… Lets hope HTC doesn’t make the same one!!

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Problem is, putting all that together in one headset will make it a fairly expensive headset. Yes, that’s no problem for big companies who want to use it for factory/production work, but consumers, Nope.. Even the needed GPU’s are way to expensive, and no, foveated rendering isn’t the solution either, as one will still need at least an 2080 to power such new headsets.. You have to be realistic.

    • Muzufuzo

      1. we don’t have eye tracking
      2. we don’t have foveated rendering
      3. wider FoV makes price go up
      4. better screens aren’t really mass produced and make price go up
      5. better video cards (2080 Ti?) are too costly

  • KOSTANTINOS KOD

    Non vr Falout and skyrim,Vr Beatsaber ..And 1000 games that could barely be called demos if they were non vr. And its normal,that how pc gaming started.

  • Kenji Fujimori

    Reality is, it is to focussed on nerds and hentai, porn etc, it is not for the masses.. sadly.. thats the reality.

  • Kenji Fujimori

    Another question is, why didnt VR take off in the 80s and 90s, they were to expensive and the CG sucked then and now

    • gothicvillas

      Do you seriously compare vr from 80ies to VR we have today?

      • He’s an imbecile…

      • Kenji Fujimori

        Read the question again.. I dont compare, I’m asking WHY it didn’t, from a business /Marketing point of view

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Hmm, I was impressed with VR in the 90’s, and I’m still impressed with the current VR.. But then again, I’m not a graphicswhore..

    • Adam Broadhurst

      The graphics don’t suck though do they.
      Yes the average VR game developed by some unknown indie developer might look like trash but WipeoutVR,Elite Dangerous,Robo Recall,Project Cars,RE7,Lone Echo and others look absolutely great.

      • Kenji Fujimori

        Aside from RE7 and some others with large budgets. Indie games is what drives sales to the masses, before large companies saturate the market, same thing happened to consoles.. Early crap indie games for the NES for example came and sales expanded. It’s just the business approach

  • HomeAudio

    This guy is from differrent space. Good move of FB that they removed him from this project.

    • Zachary Scott Dickerson

      Agree, I think he’s bitter about how they got rid of him after the lawsuit. He wants to lead the creation, but now they are going the direction of an all in one headset with lower graphics etc, the QUEST, which I think is a great idea. I love my vive, but it’s just too expensive, and difficult to setup, for the average consumer.

  • Andrew McEvoy

    My CV1 is literally falling apart from overuse.

    • MW

      Good for you. Such as my DSLR. But everyone in my building (and probably next) are satisfied by pictures from their smartphones, and they will never spend hundreds of dollars on camera. And that’s the exact problem with VR:) Palmer knows what he’s talking about better than anyone else.

  • Sim Lover

    I seldom write comments but like to mention an audience that is often neglected in discussions like that.

    While Palmer`s comment might be true for many applications/games there is a genre where the adoption of VR is good and growing since it just feels natural and a match in heaven.

    I am talking about cockpit simulations, especially racing simulations and flying simulations. (e.g. iRacing)

    Controllers (wheel, pedals) are given, wearing a helmet like appliance can be seen as an increase in immersion rather than annoyance.

    The audience is growing (though still a niche, I have to admit), usually middle aged and – that is important – financially strong. Most SimRacers use equipment that is worth more than a thousand dollars. (dedicated racing racks, direct drive wheels …)

    I have been using VR for many years (DK2, now Rift) exclusively on a regular basis. Before VR, I was using triple projectors.

    That means, many are using VR several times a week, but have little interest in other games in VR.

    We see VR as a replacement of monitors . . .
    Oculus . . . have build a business around a walled garden with an attached store.
    Bring cheap VR goggles to the masses and earn by selling games/applications.

    It doesn`t work for this audience. I have spend even more than 10,000 dollars on racing equipment (including a high performance PC with an overclocked CPU to 5.3 Ghz and a high end GPU) and am waiting for the next real upgrade in VR. (I`m looking foward to the higher Field of View that Pimax/StarVR will offer)

    Price is luckily not an issue but don`t expect me too buy many games in the store. Just give me what VR should have been in the first place:

    A good add-on/replacement for a monitor.

    There are pricey monitors (34 inch Gsync that go for 1000+ dollars) that have a market. There will be a demand for high end VR, too.

    Unfortunately Oculus handles VR like a console platform.

    TLDR: VR needs to cater differently to different audience. Affordable for the masses will be useful only if there are “killer” applications/games. Overall there already are some of these killer apps that have an audience that would spend big dollars on better equipment.

  • FriendlyCard

    It’s not lack of quality content. We have hundreds of high quality VR games from small studios (who incidentally, have much more freedom to be creative than big corporate studios that are publicly traded on the stock exchange). What Palmer may be alluding to, is It’s the general gaming public’s perceived “lack” – meaning, lack of big studio names putting out big well known titles in the VR space.

    • Adam Broadhurst

      No,it is a lack of quality content.To say the average VR game is anywhere near the quality of your regular 2D is absolute folly.

  • Baldrickk

    Here in the UK at least, VR just doesn’t have any presence on the street.
    I know there are a few VR experiences in London, but there is nowhere in a 80 mile radius where I could go and try out a headset. To do so, I need to go into London itself.
    I know of only one high street shop that has them “on display” and that is a large department store that itself is, despite having shops in locations around the country, still only a fixture in large cities.
    Added to that are strange issues like the Samsung Odyssey being unavailable for retail sale in Europe entirely, so it’s not so surprising that many here have no knowledge or desire to own one.

    The entirety of the VR experience for many is that they might have seen one of those plastic headsets you can put your phone in – the ones that are basically a Google Cardboard and not even a Galaxy Gear VR.
    Given that, is is all that surprising that it’s not really taken off here?

  • Sion12

    Except if VR headset is cheap, it will sell alot more, which in turn mean more interest in developing VR titles which mean higher user engagement. saying price doesnt matter or not a dominate one is just idiotic, even if it VR is a decade more advanced, with plenty of AAA titles, $800 a pop like the HTC pro is still going to priced out majority of gamer

  • Pasi Ripari

    Meanwhile, I’m sitting here waiting for my VR. 6 months and counting. …yeah wonder what’s holding back my vr adoption…

  • Zachary Scott Dickerson

    Well, the article also says that the people that DO continue to play are die hard and hard core. Meaning they can still make money off the product… and eyeryone keeps neglecting to mention ADULT content. VR is not going to die.

  • mirak

    When you played a racing game with a force feedback wheel, at least at home, most people are not going to bother playing a race game if it’s with a joypad.
    This is the same with VR for many people.

    But does it mean that everyone already bougth a force feedback wheel ?
    I see no reason everyone wants to buy a VR headset either.

    Did the force feedback wheels died ?
    No they didn’t, because their is a strong enough base of people that will always wants one, and it’s the for VR.

    Are all racing games supporting forcefeedback wheels ?
    Well, almost all now, because there was some standardisation done, that doesn’t requires to much effort to adapt.
    And the more VR stick around, the more this will be the same for VR.

  • HybridEnergy

    Prices are fine, people pay 4k for a stupid Jacuzzi to wet their ass for 3 hours once a month. VR isn’t supposed to be a Nintendo DS, it’s a high end gaming experience for a niche group of adults and hobbyists. I’m fine with that, the only adoption I care about is me and if I like it. Couldn’t care less if you or someone else bought it.