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Xbox co-founder “sceptical” of virtual reality mass appeal

The Xbox co-founder has revealed he is “sceptical” about the mass appeal of virtual reality, comparing it to 3D TV’s lack of success.

Ed Fries, the co-founder of the Xbox business and has since been a key advisor for games companies, isn’t convinced that virtual reality will yet be a mass consumer product.

“Hardcore gamers love new technologies and experiences and are willing to do almost anything to get them, so that’s a good market for Oculus,” said Fries as part of an Ask Me Anything session of Yabbly.

“General users however are a different crowd. Given how little success the consumer electronics companies have had with 3D TV with glasses, I am sceptical that general users are going to be strapping this thing onto their face any time soon.”

Fries believes that virtual reality will suffer the same fate as 3D TV, in that there will be plenty of interest by the niche users, but will fail to entirely infect the mass market.

“After watching 3D TV fail so spectacularly the last few years, I’m a bit of a sceptic about VR.”

He may well be right, if a recent study by Endeavour Partners is to be believed. The research showed that a third of American consumers stopped using wearable products after six months of ownership.

However, with virtual reality advancing rather rapidly and it attracting attention from industries beyond gaming, there may well be a mass market appeal eventually.

It was only a week ago that Facebook announced its acquisition of virtual reality company Oculus for $2 billion in shares and cash.

“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” said Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg announcing the deal. “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever and change the way we work, play and communicate.”

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