Palmer Luckey doesn’t believe virtual reality would catch on even if consumers were given VR hardware completely free of charge.
In a strongly-worded blog post titled ‘Free isn’t Cheap Enough’ (via RoadToVR), the Oculus co-founder wrote that while lowering prices can help boost sales of headsets and consoles, there are much bigger things holding VR back than price.
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“Lower pricing for existing VR technology can help expand the size of the active and engaged userbase, but not to nearly the degree many people would expect,” he wrote.
“I want to take this a step further and make a bold claim: No existing or imminent VR hardware is good enough to go truly mainstream, even at a price of $0.00. You could give a Rift+PC to every single person in the developed world for free, and the vast majority would cease to use it in a matter of weeks or months.”
Brendan Iribe, who co-founded Oculus with Luckey, left the company in October, amidst reports claiming that plans for an Oculus Rift 2 have been ditched, in favour of a cheaper, more modest product.
Luckey believes that “quality of experience” is the main issue, and that huge improvements need to be made in order to keep people outside of the core demographic of “hardcore gamers and technology enthusiasts” engaged.
In Luckey’s opinion, “a mass-market VR revolution would occur practically overnight” if both hardware and content were significantly improved. Easier said than done.
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“We can minimize and perhaps eliminate those cycles with better hardware, broader content, and a deep understanding of how to best interface with a human perceptual system that varies significantly across age, gender, and race,” the blog post reads.
“Every dollar that goes into making those things better now will pay huge dividends down the road, especially when compared with forced marketing to segments of the world that are not yet ready to embrace VR.”
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