Both Sony and HTC are in the process of securing store-front demos of their VR tech over summer. With both companies pitching previews to executives earlier in the week, Gamestop has announced the demo stations will become a store feature as early as June. Based on the previews they’ve been provided with, the suits seem to be leaning more towards the power of Sony with its reduced spatial demands and consumer friendly price-point.
It’s surprising that we haven’t seen these demo stands come out earlier. So many VR visionaries have been swatted away by disbelievers after pleading with them that they just need to try it for themselves. Indeed, it’s an incredibly personal technological advancement – it’s just you in that headset, you’re buying it for one-person-at-a-time entertainment. Consumers need to be assured that it’s viable, comfortable, and enjoyable. Obviously the pre-orders we’ve seen so far are the ultra-keen market, the ones who were always going to spend the cash anyway. But as virtual reality runs out of these early bidders it’s going to crave the support of the masses to survive – support that can only be flexed in a see-for-yourself environment.
While companies and their supporters have been chanting ‘technological revolution’ from their soap-boxes, very little is being done to show the average consumer the viability of the virtual reality product. These are the consumers who can’t make it to the industry shows, who weren’t part of the pre-orders, but who will ultimately see the making or breaking of virtual reality as a revolution in gaming. I have had one opportunity to explore virtual reality aside from the sparse number of industry shows I can access and afford, and that is what I can only assume was an Oculus Rift DK around Christmas of 2014 running for one day only at my university. If virtual reality is going to take over the way we’re being promised it will, companies need to show their everyday market.