back to article As sales slide, virtual reality fans look to a bright, untethered future

Wearable watchers, CCS Insight, had good news and bad news for the virtual and augmented reality industry today. Sales are tanking but look! New hardware! The report underlines just how much the industry has been driven by users of smartphone-based VR, which peaked at 8 million units in 2017 before plummeting to just 3 million …

It is worth mentioning the windows mixed reality headsets here now they seem to be gaining traction a bit more. We picked up a Lenovo Explorer for £149 recently and there is actually a whole lot you can do with it on a modest spec PC. Compared to the Gear on an S7 it lacks Netflix but has decent support on Steam and you can even play Skyrim on it pretty well.

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Coat

Wow, such a resounding endorsement. Sounds like I'll have to get one… It'll go well with the chocolate fireguard.

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Absolutely. It's annoying how websites pretend that WMR isn't a very real competitor, especially now that Oculus and HTC have temporarily given up on reasonably priced headsets for "real" VR enthusiasts.

I have the HP headset and it's great, especially for the price. The screen resolution is actually better then the Oculus Rift.

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EBay listings reveal longevity of the oculus go

There are many eBay listings for the Go, of which a large proportion say the item is in mind condition, boxed with plastic film still on.. I.e. hours of use.

This suggests that the novelty wears off very quickly, or it's cumbersome or uncomfortable etc.

Whether the oculus quest will fare and better is another story.

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Re: EBay listings reveal longevity of the oculus go

"This suggests that the novelty wears off very quickly, or it's cumbersome or uncomfortable etc."

You forget nauseating, a common complaint was that it caused motion sickness in a lot of people

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Nauseating

We picked up a Gear VR (last but one model) for £40 on ebay, which is about right seeing here is very little content, particularly free stuff. My 3 and 5 year old love the dinosaur rollercoaster, which I find nauseating (despite being a pilot). I've just noticed on the box its says for 11 years and older, so I'm probably ruining them for life.

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They need to tell the truth in the adverts

Instead of showing casual games and cute stuff, they need to admit that the only current uses of VR/AR are in Business (well done Microsoft) and porn (not sure who's winning there).

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Anonymous Coward

Lack of decent content.

without which these are ****ing expensive toys.

It's fascinating watching the brightest and best of this generation make exactly the same mistakes as their parents or grandparents.

Without decent, attractive content - games don't really count - there's very little appeal in spunking a lot of money on this gear.

Last year, in Birmingham. a "VR Lounge" opened up ("Link Steet, for those that know) . I was collared by a puppy hipster all enthused with the possibilities of VR. I was happy to spend a few quid, so I asked ..

- flight simulator ?

- virtual tour of inside the Great Pyramid ?

No to both. Just retreads of video games that frankly would have been blocky in the 80s.

That shop has gone, by the way.

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Re: Lack of decent content.

@AC History is repeating.

There used to be place in Nottingham, where you could pay to play a VR game (it was just the one game) that was some sort of fantasy adventure. It ran on an Amiga. It was 25 years ago. About the same time I went to Computer Graphics expo at London Olympia, and tried out some VR demos, and I also played some trippy game that involved an Escher-esque staircase in space, a rocket launcher, and a dragon, at the hard Rock cafe, in Covent Garden.

So, where are we now,... oh yeah, still waiting for VR to catch on.

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Re: Lack of decent content.

It ran on an Amiga. It was 25 years ago.

As someone who had a shot of one of the old Virtuality headsets (and even the venerable Virtual Boy), I can testify that they've come on leaps and bounds since then.

They're not perfect, not by a long shot. They're much, much better than they were then, though. For simulators they're great. My Vive struggles a bit on some things, though. Could use something with more poke than an R9-380. And therein lies the problem. To get something convincingly detailed and smooth takes a fair bit of poke, and that takes a fair bit of money. That's what'll keep VR in a niche corner, in my opinion.

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Re: To get something convincingly detailed and smooth takes a fair bit of poke

Exactly that.

I've seen renders of VR games - heck, you can see scores of screens on Steam. If you think you're going to be playing Call Of Duty with all the details on a VR headset, you're dreaming. None of those games have anywhere near the level of detail of last year's triple A games.

You might get to play The Sims - that's about the best level of detail you can get.

And VR porn ? Please. I'm pretty sure that that slab of pink is not going to make me believe it's a woman.

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Re: Lack of decent content.

Actually, VR might well be something of a killer app for business purposes.

Take a lot of miserable staff in a big, open-plan office. Add in VR or AR systems so each team are presented with their own little space (a walled garden with a shady tree overhanging it would work fairly well), and add in headphones so the user can choose if they want to just hear chit-chat from their own team area, their own music or general noise.

Done well, VR/AR could also replace the usual forest of monitors with virtual windows hanging in space in front of the user; instant mega-big screen.

It wouldn't quite be a substitute for decent office space, but could improve existing poor office space somewhat.

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Re: Lack of decent content.

Take a lot of miserable staff in a big, open-plan office. Add in VR or AR systems so each team are presented with their own little space

Ohh goody, we all get to be treated like battery chickens.

Next stage, we can all be brains in jars - and the best bit is we won't need paid as we won't need food, heated accommodation or exercise.

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Re: Lack of decent content.

There are 3 brilliant flight simulators for VR: DCS World, IL-2 Battle of Stalingrad (and its siblings Battle of Moscow, Battle of Kuban, Battle of Bastogne and Flying Circus) and War Thunder (in "Simulator Battles" mode).

They all have excellent graphics if you drop over £1000 on a GPU, but War Thunder runs pretty nicely on a GTX 1070.

More importantly, they're all still actively developed so the flight simulator market is great for VR.

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(Small correction to my post)

It's Battle of Bodenplatte, not Bastogne. Should be very interesting with the Me 262 and late-war propeller aircraft.

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Re: Lack of decent content.

"It's fascinating watching the brightest and best of this generation make exactly the same mistakes as their parents or grandparents"

That's a tradition that goes back across many (probably all) generations.

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Re: Lack of decent content.

"Take a lot of miserable staff in a big, open-plan office. Add in VR or AR systems so each team are presented with their own little space (a walled garden with a shady tree overhanging it would work fairly well), and add in headphones so the user can choose if they want to just hear chit-chat from their own team area, their own music or general noise."

I honestly can't think of a better way to take a stressful and counterproductive environment and make it even MORE stressful and counterproductive.

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MJI
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Not surprised

PSVR the big seller, well it is a cheap way in for the PS4 owner.

Vive doing pretty well.

Rift suffering a bit due to Facebook.

Phones losing interest.

Most interest I hear is about the top two. There is definately a pull towards Vive from Rift.

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Anonymous Coward

"29 million of the wireless beauties expected to ship in 2022."

Pull the other one lads. This is more units than the PS4 was shifting at its peak.

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Trollface

Magic Leap FTW!!

Have you seen their demo video? These guys are going to CRUSH it!!

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The real market is industry

Medicine, machine maintenance, fiddling with nuclear reactors is where there is a real market, although some of it may just be to train robots.

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Anonymous Coward

What I'd pay for ...

If there was a way to access something like the 3D scans the BBC got when making "Secrets of Ancient Rome/Venice/Athens/Cairo/Istanbul",

or a flight simulator,

or walking around the Eagle in the sea of tranquility ....

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Re: What I'd pay for ...

If you want a flight simulator, War Thunder and DCS World are both free to download (pay for extra content) and high-quality.

IL-2 Battle of Stalingrad is also an excellent choice, and the developers are working on a new VR WW1 simulator in addition to late WW2. They've also recently released Battle of Kuban and Battle of Moscow.

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Anonymous Coward

Smartphones

One of the issues I've found for the smartphone variety is the phone gets red hot, just for a laugh bought the Lenovo Jedi challenge kit last Christmas, quickly stopped using my iPhone 7 Plus and started using an old iPhone 5, but at the end of using it you could cook an egg on it

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Anonymous Coward

Remember 3D TV? After a lot of hyped launches 5+ years ago just about no one supports 3D TV anymore

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Get with the times, now it's all about 4K.

I'm thinking that'll be about just as successful.

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I recall another commenter saying something along the lines of "dross in 3D is still dross".

The move to HD got the TV manufacturers all excited that they could flog more kit if they just threw a new bit of tech in. They conviniently overlooked that SD->HD was quite a useful jump as not only did it look good, but there was increasing content and the not-so small factor that many people don't change TVs every few years (my previous TV was 9 years old). So then we see them bigging up 3D, curved screens, smart TVs etc

Anyway, back on subject. Dross in VR is still dross.

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I've got the PS VR - the price for the headset, camera and games bundle now is pretty amazing and well worth getting. Just seeing people's reactions to the shark attack in VR Worlds is worth the price.

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Anonymous Coward

Waaaay OT, but Dara O'Briain

did anyone catch him riffing on VR on "Live at the Apollo" ?

Well, more precisely, did anyone catch him riffing on "Vee-Oar" on LatA ?

Given his background, not quite sure if it was an affectation, or a genuine thing about saying "VR" in Gaelic.

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I'm still waiting for all that cyber sex I was promised 25 years ago.

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Anonymous Coward

Well there is a dominatrix game on steam in early access... ;-)

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Coat

I'm still waiting for all that cyber sex I was promised 25 years ago.

I'm still waiting on all the sex I was promised for buying Linx deoderant.....

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Only if

"Of course, that niche could easily explode should someone like Apple blunder into the marketplace with smart glasses to set the fanbois a-swooning."

Only if they can come up with a reason to own them outside of niche purposes (gaming and workplace, mostly). These things are high on the "gee-whiz" scale, but I've yet to see a really compelling general use for them.

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Vendors

I'll be damned if I'm buying something from Facebook, Microsoft or Sony, and I hear the Vive isn't that great.

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I don't see how stand-alones are supposed to be so much better than a Cardboard-clone plus a phone, considering that's exactly what they are except infinitely more expensive (assuming everyone already has their phone) and a lot less compatible with existing VR apps (for those which either don't run Android at all or run some locked down custom version of it that won't install Shark Experience or Rollercoaster Experience or whatever it is that goes this week).

So far no other rig including all the big names can match the fun per buck that can be had with a nearly decade old phone, a sub-$10 plastic box with (individually adjustable!) lenses, some PC-to-phone glue software and basically ANYTHING 3D built using the Unreal Engine, using nothing more than a single command line parameter.

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You might get to play The Sims - that's about the best level of detail you can get.

We haven't even got that! EA has shown no interest in VR and nor have the other big studios except Bethesda who've just shat out another port of Skyrim and Fallout4 - not even bothered putting Fallout76 in VR and no mention about Starfield / ES6.

So, Farcry 5, Dying light 2, Cyberpunk '77, X4 Foundations, all those shooty games I have no interest in - none have VR planned. Even resident Evil 7 PSVR is no longer being ported to PCVR. The problem is the market will never grow if there's no media to entice the punters and EA, Ubisoft etal are too profit driven to waste money on a customer base too small for their predatory practices.

There are 3 brilliant flight simulators for VR

...

They all have excellent graphics if you drop over £1000 on a GPU, but War Thunder runs pretty nicely on a GTX 1070

So, £320 for the 2070, a decent i5, SSD plus 16GBs RAM, you're still looking at a grand in total.

As for the wireless - Oculus Go / Quest etc, they're basically phone hardware with a resolution / FOV not much better than the Rift etc where the software is even more limited than the wired variants, not much longevity, I guess fun at Xmas showing people cool VR, Porn in more comfortable surroundings - plus, the battery life sucks on those things, barely two hours (you can't even watch a Lord of the Rings SE film) and you're advised against using it whilst it's charging.

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