Virtual Reality Is Entering A Critical Phase

Libby Jane Charleston
on 21 February 2017

Sales of virtually reality headsets have sky rocketed in Australia, with more than 200,000 units sold in 2016; putting content developers in the spotlight.

According to a new study by emerging technology analyst firm Telsyte, 216,000 VR headsets were sold last year, with mobile VR taking around 70 per cent of those sold.

The study also revealed nearly half of all device revenues were generated by the Sony PlayStation VR, which is experiencing strong initial demand from video gamers.

Telsyte’s survey of consumers, aged 16 and above, shows almost half of those looking to purchase a VR headset are interested in using it for games, movies or entertainment purposes.

Nearly half of all Australian households currently have a game console making it fertile ground for early adopters.

It’s estimated VR use will reach 25.5 per cent of households by 2021, based on attachment rates of headsets to VR capable smartphones, games consoles and higher end gaming PCs.

The key driver for the adoption of VR headsets will be support by content producers; especially the AAA games titles and franchises. However, it appears many production houses are waiting for broader adoption and a clear winner to emerge before making large scale investments.

Telsyte managing director, Foad Fadaghi said we’re entering a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario with VR adoption.

“Developers are looking for a growing base of users before making large investments, at the same time mainstream technology buyers are waiting for killer VR content or applications,” Foad said.

The wide range of VR products available is also impacting consumer and developer uptake. Telsyte believes that the choice of three main platforms (mobile, console, PC) and four main ecosystems (Oculus, PlayStation VR, HTC Vive/Stream VR, Google Daydream) is impacting consumer purchase decisions. This will be further exasperated with more options in H2 2017.

Telsyte research also shows early adopters are looking for a ‘distraction from reality’, although VR is typically used in small doses.

Nearly half indicated ‘they enjoy playing online games with friends’, 58 per cent indicated ‘they often feel stressed’ and 49 per cent indicated they have ‘very little free time.’

Telsyte’s assessment of VR hardware and software shows most early devices on the market are in need of advancement to help the overall market grow.

Apart from any health and safety concerns, VR hardware needs to become less visible, lighter and untethered, while software and content developers need to harness the technology better with less ‘demo’ orientated releases.

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