2016: »The Year of VR.« Was it?

First days of the year are perfect time for looking back. 2016 has ended. It was supposed to be the year of virtual reality. It kinda was, but mostly it wasn’t.

Yes, there were three major releases of high-end devices with Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Sony Playstation VR. But the medium didn’t actually penetrate the mainstream.

I see few different reasons that can be summed up with the formula:

The explanation of this lousy formula would sound something like: VR hype is too big times VR equipment being too expensive; over lack of VR content and lack of success story – means no »killer app«.

VR is on the bad cycle of hype. The expectations for VR are too high to meet them. Almost every cinema, TV or media related festival or market last year wanted to have some VR related activity or section. I guess it pays off to follow the trends but very rarely the conditions were optimal to experience VR in the proper way: with headset, good sound, and suitable space.

Even worse, some the projects offered to masses that I’ve seen myself stink in way too many ways. So chances that user will like that VR experience – and too many it’s the first experience – are quite low.

VR equipment needs to be cheaper and better quality: Oculus and Vive headsets cost xxx euros and you need a powerful computer, that’s additional thousand euros. And basic platforms like Google Cardboard that really democratized the technology and opened up the possibilities is good to get a taste of VR but not to blow your mind.

Moreover, when you buy Vive or Oculus you want to experience it to the fullest so you buy all 10-20 games and apps that are available online. And after few weeks you’ve finished them…then what? There’s no content.

Following the launch of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, we have yet to see a breakthrough game or app.

I agree with some experts that the »killer app« in VR will end up being some combination of cinema, gaming, and interactive theatre. Right now we’re only in the dress rehearsal and anything is possible. Even just five years from now VR content will look nothing like it does today.

So I guess in the of 2017 I will be asking myself if 2017 was the year of »killer VR app« or do we still need to wait.