Despite showing recent emergence in the form of the PC-compatible VR (virtual reality) headsetÂ Oculus RiftÂ - a device that continues to impress the industry and media at conventions and trade shows -Â Â the technology has been around for a while. Announced at GDC last week, Sony is also making aÂ sizeable virtual reality splash in the market with their recently announced competitor, Project Morpheus. While early press previews and online feedback from fans suggest that there is support for the tech, virtual reality is still relatively untested in the gaming market, leading Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, to voice his doubts.
Pachter is a known figure in the video game industry and it seems as though his latest predictions are based off of analysis of the difference in the markets that Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus operate in rather than inÂ the oft-lauded similarities between the hardware. According to the analyst, â€œitâ€™s a bad idea for multiple participants to chase [the virtual reality market}, and I think itâ€™s a really bad idea for Sonyâ€ and as for Oculus Rift, he has â€œno problemâ€ with the PC alternative as â€œtheyâ€™re a startup and thatâ€™s a very small market and if they dominate it thatâ€™s great, but if itâ€™s a small market and there are multiple players, itâ€™s gonna be hard for anybody to make money.â€
His statement follows skepticism in recent years over the viability of accessory products, such as the PlayStation Move motion controllers and the Kinect Camera, the second iteration of which continually comes under fire due to Microsoftâ€™s mandatory Xbox One and Kinect 2.0 bundling.
â€œI donâ€™t think itâ€™s gonna be a big market. It sounds interesting, but I donâ€™t think there will be enough content to justify making the capital investment to create the headset. I think itâ€™s chicken and egg. If thereâ€™s no content youâ€™re not gonna buy a virtual reality headset, and if you donâ€™t buy a virtual reality headset, there wonâ€™t be any content, because no one will make a dedicated game for a very small audience.â€
The fact that Ubisoft has also recently made an announcement that they would not develop games forÂ virtual reality devices seems to support Pachterâ€™s statement.Â However, despite his feelings towards Project Morpheus, Pachter still thinks that PlayStation, theÂ brand that Project Morpheus would inevitably be included under, will be a â€œwild success,â€ elaborating on his previous statements by explaining that â€œI think the PlayStation division is gonna be very profitable, buy they might lose all that money with TV shows,â€ referring to Sony Pictureâ€™s recent announcement to developer Powers, a TV show that would be exclusive to the PSN (PlayStation Network) upon its release.
For Pachter, the tech isn’t bad, just the idea of multiple players cannibalizing a small, premium market is. And this is certainly going to be a burden for developers if they have to make VR work across multiple devices.Â Sony’s Project Morpheus is still in its prototyping stages and there’s no official word yet on whether it’ll become a consumer product, but if it does it’ll be designed for the PS4 specifically. With reports indicating that Microsoft is also working away on an Xbox-branded VR headset, the market may become too crowded with three differetn VR headsets that all ostensibly do the same basic thing. Are multiplatform gamers going to have to buy THREE different headsets in the near future? Why aren’t the console makers working with Oculus Rift, tech that already has widespread developer support and financial backing? Is competition in this front healthy, regardless?
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