Awesome article with Jesse Schell about VR—virtual reality and hardware/software design innovation. The article really gets into the market realities. I’ve been saying this for years—the three most important words in video games are install base, install base, install base.

But I’ve been wondering lately if my three most important words weren’t going to become obsolete with the proliferation of mobile and gaming platforms everywhere. It would no longer matter how many people bought the new console or whatever if nearly every game or every significant license is on every device. . .

However, VR is going to be a major install base, install base, install base issue for a good long time to come. Consumer adoption of the technology is a complete unknown and game industry development for the platform is yet to be relevantly seen.

We don’t know about true performance of gameplay mechanics. We don’t know how well existing licenses will translate. We don’t know how well entire genres will work. We don’t know what other questions to ask. . . Business models? Market segmentation? Distribution? on and on. . .

Schell sums it up best:

“…the first big market is going to be hardcore gamers.

I would put out there that I believe that there’s going to be a sustainable market that is probably roughly the size of, I don’t know, call it 20 percent of the Steam market, of people who will really, really be into this. They’ll be into it hardcore.…It’ll be like the MMO market in 1999 all over again.

“…it’s a one-person-at-a-time experience.…the thing people aren’t looking at now is augmented reality.…Because adults are going to be too embarrassed to run around outside chasing after some invisible phantom. But a nine year-old, running around the yard, playing kickball with Pikachu? Like, oh my God. Kids are going to love this thing so much. But people aren’t quite there, and augmented reality platforms are a bit different than VR, although the technologies are really related.
I feel like whatever we’re seeing now, be it Gear VR, Oculus Rift, Sony Morpheus, it’s not the form it’s going to take, ultimately.

“For people who are really into online interactions, this will be the ultimate online interaction. This will be the first time you’ll be able to make eye contact with other avatars. And that will be a real thing. The power of it as a communication medium, ultimately, is going to be amazing.”

“…at the school, we do a great eye-tracking system we’ve been using, and it’s really interesting. A game you can entirely play with your eyes is — it sort of changes the way you think about game design. There’s a lot of stuff coming. The next decade is going to be amazing. Stuff’s just going to keep coming.”

image courtesy Gamasutra

Gamasutra – After 20 years working with VR, Jesse Schell speaks his mind.