VR Continues Push In To Mainstream

Credit: TechTimes.com

Header Image Credit: TechTimes.com

A flurry of VR news has rattled my social media feeds during the past weeks, and it has been a chore to keep track of it all between the official news releases and the sideline commentary. As a Gamer and Techie, I have had my eye on VR for quite some time and its possible applications. I’ve even had a brief discussion with the XPEarned Podcast a while back about a few of them that I have worked with personally, albeit a very limited amount. Progress continues to creep forward, and surely enough that progress is beginning to show.

Oculus Rift will cost WHAT!?!?

Credit: Oculus.com

The initial wave of news was sparked by the announcement of the Oculus Rift’s reveal price tag of $599 at CES. While this is comparable to the other consoles before their recent price drops (more on that later), here’s the thing: If you purchased the Oculus Rift and had only an Oculus Rift, you wouldn’t be able to play anything on it! From Oculus.com:

Is your PC Oculus Ready?
For the full Rift experience, we recommend the following PC system:

  • graphics card: NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD R9 290 equivalent or greater
  • processor: Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • memory: 8GB+ RAM
  • output: Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
  • input: 3x USB 3.0 ports plus 1x USB 2.0 port
  • operating system: Windows 7 SP1 64 bit or newer

That’s right. Not only will you have to purchase what amounts to higher end peripherals, but you will need a gaming PC to go along with it. What grabs my attention is the requirement for three USB 3.0 ports. My current desktop that I am typing this post on has a couple in the back, but I also bought this machine back in 2011. These ports are actually never used since the only things I’m using my USB ports for are jump drives or charging my phone…

…which suddenly makes me a bit sad as I confess this…

Anyway, the point I am getting at is that these spec requirements may not be “high end” in relation to what truly high end PCs are capable of, but they could certainly be higher than what consumers may currently have. This would be especially true if you are currently gaming on a budget PC and skimped on things like, oh I don’t know,  3x USB 3.0 ports to bring the cost down.

Hopefully you’ve got an open slot on your motherboard to add those ports.

Also worth noting: Along with the Headset, you will also receive the Oculus Remote, Mic, and an Xbox One Controller. The controller coming from Xbox makes sense since you’ll be using this with a PC, and PCs use the Windows OS, which is made by Microsoft, who also makes the Xbox, sooooo…..money makes the world go ’round. Also, are there plans to make the Oculus Rift compatible with the XB1 console!?!?!

Ofcourse they would…

Credit: Naughty America

This bit of news confirms what should have been expected by anyone in the Entertainment industry or follows Entertainment or Tech news. Not more than three days later, PC World announced that Adult Entertainment company “Naughty America” will be generating videos to be viewed with VR Headsets. OF COURSE the porn industry would jump all over this as soon as it was viable! How do you outperform yourself and get ahead of your competition? Not hanging back, that’s for sure!

Jokes and immature giggles aside, this is actually a very important step in the process. By adding to the pool of usable content, it will generate additional interest and demand for the format. Also, keep in mind that while “polite society” maintains it’s self-righteous stigma over Adult Film, the major companies are legitimate studios with full production gear. Chances are they already have computers for video editing that either exceed the required specs or can readily be upgraded. It is no secret that the Porn industry generates a massive amount of money through subscription accounts, and is an extremely lucrative business in general. Therefore, I am quite confident that they will be able to afford the additional equipment with little problem. Additionally, they will be the pioneers as to how VR Film Making will be done. They will be able to produce a large quantity of films with a persistent demand for more, all the while refining their recording and production techniques and nuances.

Based on Brad’s description in the above linked article, I’ve actually experienced a similar format when playing around with my Google Cardboard. As a promo for the Insurgent movie, they released a VR-type experience for the film, as seen below:

As the camera pans and darts around, that is the user physically turning their head to look. Now, just imagine it more…..”personal”…

Sony Trademarks VRPG

Credit: Sony

From DualShockers, “On December 17th, the house of PlayStation filed for the registration of the mark “VRPG” for class 9, which indicates games.” As with the endeavors of Adult Entertainment, Gaming companies will also be the ones to push new and developing tech to its limits. As soon as hardware is able to get ahead of the software, software will launch up to the limits of hardware and say, “Ya know, if we had just a little be more power, we could do THIS!” and the cycle would repeat. So now that VR has taken another step closer to reality, it is looking like Sony is eager to push out an RPG designed specifically for it’s VR application. As a long time fan of RPGs, I am anxious to see what they come up with! The most I can imagine at this time is something akin to Borderlands or Destiny with an Elderscrolls Online kind of interface. That is, it will be based on an FPS perspective with a more comprehensive gear/skill menu. As shown on the Oculus Rift website, the EVE: Valkyrie interface is what will likely be the basis of future interfaces.

Tech Prices Always Drop

While the price of the Oculus Rift is a bit staggering, there will be alternatives such as the above mentioned Sony Playstation VR and the HTC Vive. According to Forbes, the estimated price point for Playstation VR could launch at $350. Still, know and understand this: Tech prices always drop. Those of us who like to be Alpha-Consumers and always have the latest and greatest toys understand that we will be paying an absolute premium price for our gadgetry habit. However, just look at how the cost of computer components drop over the years, and how the two major consoles, Xbox One and Playstation 4, are now both selling at retail for $349.99, lower than their initial release prices.

While this shows the price drop from initial release to a few years in to their life cycle, consider this chart from Matthew Komorowski:

Quite the reduction in price, and this is the given value for NEW hardware as opposed to “refurbished” or “used”. At this point we are paying effectively less than a dime per Gigabyte of Hard Drive storage. So yes, while this initial cost is high, I highly doubt that it will remain at that point.

However, it is also important that they do not start out so high as to doom themselves in to failure at launch. In the NPR article “Is Oculus Rift’s $600 Price Too High For Virtual Reality To Succeed?“, they make reference to the Panasonic 3DO, the high-end game console that came out at $699 back in 1993!

Credit: Panasonic

Basically, it was priced WAAAY too high for the time it was released, and it gave way to the other, more “consumer level”, consoles of the time. Basically, the market will decide if your price is too high. Either your product will be left behind due to lack of interest, or it will maintain long enough to comp it’s initial design and development allowing for a price drop to sustain a profit flow.

Bottom Line

OK, look: Everyone knows that the initial price for this new tech is going to be high. As of right now, there is little competition and the tech is still pretty specialized. While there are cheaper alternatives for VR such as the Google Cardboard or the Samsung Gear VR, they both require the ownership of a sufficient smartphone. Thus, they both follow the model of the Oculus Rift as being a peripheral rather than a stand alone product. The cost of VR will come down, and it’s concept will sustain long enough for it to happen. Humanity at large wants this too badly for it to fail because it’s SO FRICK’N COOL! We have been dreaming about Virtual Reality BECOMING a reality for far too long, and has tech continues to become cheaper to develop we are at the verge of VR coming down to being within general consumer reach!

Until then, the real world will be waiting for it’s very own Kirito.

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