A GEARVR NEWS BULLETIN
“Unity CEO Proposes an Alt VR-Mainstream-Adoption Arc”
The CEO of Unity Technologies, John Riccitiello, is proposing an alternate timeline over what the Mainstream believes is going to occur for the “Adoption of VR” in the Marketplace. And this is a man who, as previous CEO of Electronic Arts (one of the most successful gaming companies in history), and now CEO of Unity, really knows what he’s talking about.
John says the current growth path (partially driven I think by pure hubris–but also partially uncovered by analysis from a Goldman Sachs report) is that VR will be incredibly strong in 2016 and 2017, much further along toward where we all want it to go. But John Riccitiello believes VR will not reach that exciting stage in VR’s development until at least 2019, well after market-leader predictions. The current “hype train” suggests that by 2020, VR will have even reached 100 billion in sales! But John has some real insights into why, sadly, this won’t be possible.
Speaking directly about why he believes Market Leaders tend to predict VR’s financial $100 Billion-dollar rise by 2020 incorrectly, John begins by stating:
“My point of view is, that as big, and impressive and astonishing as those forecasts are, they kind of were built, you know, modeling, or at least referencing, the adoption rate of the Smart Phone. And the Smart Phone had a lot of things going for it. Including 10’s of billions of dollars, if not 100’s of billions of dollars of subsidies from the [major phone] Carriers that brought the price [of these phones] down. And my point of view, simply put, is that the [VR] forecasts are wrong.”
It was due to Phone-Carrier subsidies that phones were so cheap. They knew people would never buy phones over a certain price point, and they wouldn’t make their real money, which is on “cellular minutes” and “data downloads.”
Fact is, Smart Phones should have costed two or three times as much as we ended up paying for them, but the phone Carriers helped lower the price to get more people buying them. [So they could recoup those subsidized losses in cell-phone plan late fees and overage charges, more’s the likelihood! You don’t ever get something for free, folks.]
John predicts a few challenges to the VR industry that are only going to be overcome after a few more years of hard work from every sector. Those challenges are:
- COSTS: It’s going to be expensive to get everything you want in the near term. It will definitely come, not soon but later! 2016 will NOT be the year of “mass affordable.“
- CONTENT: Some of the most amazing games and titles are not going to be ready by 2016, they will take years of development time to perfect. However, the cost in time will be worth it later because by then there will be a larger user base in place ready to pay to play. So the Big “AAA” games will be able to accrue many more sales and thus be worth the money risked in development costs to even build them. Which in 2016 will not yet be the case.
John goes on to say that:
“There’s some amazing experiences with GearVR and Cardboard, but the full of everything we want to see, the road map for GearVR and Cardboard are so astonishing for years to come, but that’s all going to take a bit [of time] … Not so many of the amazing things I’ve experienced are going to land in the Marketplace in 2016. In fact, most of the best stuff I’ve seen [coming for VR] is targeted for 2017 and some in 2018. And so I think there’s going to be a bit of time before it all comes together. … My forecasts are a little different. I think the curve I’ve drawn here in white (image below) is more realistic.”
As we can see by the white curve, VR adoption starts out more slowly in John’s view, but finishes roughly the same. I think John’s analysis feels correct to me. VR is still in its walking phase. Inertia is the rate of how things pick up speed, and VR has some pretty big challenges (IE: gravity) to overcome before it can learn to run. I see how energetic forces gather momentum as they begin to combine together (forming synergy). And in the beginning, it’s more difficult to gather momentum because most of the industry is hard at work rebuilding the tools VR needs to even build VR in the first place.
When a lot more time is being spent by the industry building the tools to later build VR, that means less content is being produced in the kinds of quantities that would lead to mass adoption by users. As the quantity AND quality begins to come into VR, more people will be investing into it to avoid missing out on the cool VR experiences. By then, it will all be too incredible to put off any longer. While in the short run, traditional games still have huge budgets, the amazing cinematics, and the awesome multiplayer options that (all of these things put together) the current VR market can’t pull off … until around 2019 he says.
John further goes onto predict what he calls the “Gap of Disappointment” (shown in the photo above) and how he fears journalists will exploit that idea to damage VR for the sake of ratings and fear mongering. VR really is still in its infancy despite how good GearVR already is, we should not forget that. VR has failed many times before and carries with it an enormous stigma of disappointment the world over. Every time there is any failure in VR, big or small, everyone seems so quick to predict its demise. Such emotionalism can’t help our cause here. VR really is here this time. Stop doubting that. It’s just going to take longer than what the Market, in its hubris for all things good, has predicted.
The reality is slightly farther away, following a curve that starts slower than claimed and comes to fruition full steam ahead only after 2019. The 3 years between those predictions creates a nasty little gap. This … Gap of Disappointment is where John feels journalism will spend much of its time capitalizing on people’s fears by scaring them about VR’s eminent doom.
I agree with John’s predictions, which is why I’m writing this article in the hopes of stemming such fears by opening discussion on such possibilities sooner rather than later. I hope to instill in the reader the idea that John’s correct, the Market could be wrong, and that this means we need to give VR more time to reach its adulthood. And not fall prey to doom and gloom. So … let’s all agree to be a little patient and take things as they come and enjoy each day for what VR brings us along the way, rather than shedding huge crocodile tears for what we don’t yet have.
John goes on to say: “In the very near term I am fearful of journalists. And the reason I’m fearful of journalists is that they will not be able to resist talking about the Gap of Disappointment. … Right now the hype around VR … is so high … and the hype around AR in the long run is even higher. We’ve set up journalism here, broadly defined, to do exactly what we’d expect them to do: take those forecasts, explain that we missed the numbers in 2016, and pronounce the VR industry over hyped, it’s dead, as ‘one more time we’re going to start from zero.’ Ignore the journalists [who talk like this]. This is a once-in-a-century opportunity … to launch new technology so compelling it changes absolutely everything.“
S U M M A R Y
Virtual Reality and Augment Reality are both just in their early adolescence phase. They might be amazing, sure, and they are going to only get more so as the time needed to get them walking and talking is invested into them. Once the great weight of this train (inertia) has finally been overcome (having the tools all in place, having the techniques all worked out) then VR will begin to run forward, full steam ahead. And soon after that, VR and AR will both be making leaps forward. And soon after that comes the time when both systems begin feeding into one another: AR and VR integrated and merged into a system offering even greater worlds of exploration than anyone can even know at this point.
To appreciate what we have today, we cant’ let fear of failure cloud our hope for what’s coming. But at the same time, we can’t let our desire for awesome VR right now dampen the reality that … yes … it WILL take more time than predicted. That it might take longer than the Market wants us to believe.
Remember, the Marketplace runs better on belief in what they’re selling. Part of their claims might just be the Market trying to influence future surety themselves by making claims merely trying to influence that same Market. This is the same way banks over-inflate user confidence to shore up fears which would instantly ruin them if there was a bank run. If the Market claims 100 billion in VR by 2020, they believe that merely by making the claim they can make it come true. But reality may not support such conceits. And that’s okay. As long as we all know that right from the start.
So thanks again to John Riccitiello for making his predictions clear to us at 2016’s recent Vision Summit in California. This was the first ever Vision Conference/Summit held to celebrate all that is going on in the world of VR and AR. GEARVR NEWS made it to the conference and we were delighted to get to meet Palmer lucky in person, as well as many of the companies making games for GearVR. It was an amazing event, I’m told. (I myself, this author, sadly couldn’t attend due to scheduling conflicts. Argh!)