Crossing the Chasm of the Virtual Reality Gaming Industry

As we get deeper into Fall, tech giants including Google, Apple, and Samsung continue to launch new products in hopes of achieving record sales in this year’s holiday season.

One of the products predicted to contribute to the Black Friday havoc is the new Sony Playstation VR which will have limited quantities in stock at 350 Best Buy stores nationwide. Surely, teenagers will flock to set up camp outside of these stores where they will wait in anticipation, sometimes for days, until midnight of Thanksgiving: the fateful moment that will separate the fortuitous from the not so fortunate. While many will leave empty-handed, those who don’t will essentially be the first ‘modern consumer’ guinea pigs exposed to VR.

Up until now, the only people who have had access to VR technology have primarily been ‘tech geeks’ (such as ourselves), as they have been the only ones willing to swallow the steep prices of the current devices on the market. While these devices are extremely expensive, it is expected as VR technology is still in the early stages of development. Nevertheless, here at EdgeDNA the amount that we have learned from VR devices has proven invaluable as it has allowed us to continuously innovate and accomplish projects that only a decade ago would have been considered inconceivable. Even better, we won’t have to worry about missing Thanksgiving dinner to wait in line.

While the new Playstation VR doesn’t come close to the quality or technological capacity of other VR systems such as the Microsoft Hololens or the Oculus Rift, it’s release indicates a noteworthy shift in the overall industry. Examining the technology adoption life cycle bell curve based on Everett Roger’s ‘diffusion of innovations’ theory, it seems plausible that VR is transitioning from the ‘innovator’ stage to the ‘early adopter’ stage as it gains a much broader reach.

Despite selling out almost immediately in presales when they were first released this past Spring, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive did not live up to expectations as sales slumped after only a few months. Presumably this resulted from a variety of problems affecting the overall experience. Paramount, however, was the steep price associated with the devices which was most certainly disserviced by the film industry as it influenced consumers to have unrealistic expectations in movies such as Tron and Avatar through the use of CGI. For those who currently own a PlayStation 4, the VR system will cost only $400 which is much more palatable than the $600 Rift and and the $800 HTC which both additionally require a fancy PC that is VR compatible.

It will be interesting to see how consumers react to this product considering its potential success could signify the ‘crossing of the chasm’ for the VR gaming industry. Regardless, VR will surely continue down its path of rapid advancement for both consumers and enterprises as demons trated by the fact that the industry is predicted to bring in over $1 Billion for the first time ever this year.

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