In early 2019 we witnessed the alleged death of VR. It was too niche, too expensive, and honestly just not appealing to the masses. The idea of paying gobs of money for a headset and quality gaming pc or console, only to play short indie games or half-hearted ports of popular games (and then get sick) just wasn’t something a whole lot of people were interested in doing.
Both Oculus Quest and Valve Index have sold out for the holidays 2020 is looking like it’s going to be a big year for VR pic.twitter.com/0bzqKEAAD4
— Mike – VRO (@vr_oasis) December 16, 2019
Then something changed this year. Facebook owned company Oculus released a gaming VR headset that was both affordable and independent from additional hardware named “Quest”. While the Oculus Quest wasn’t quite the hot rod you get with a high-end headset and computer, it was more than enough to draw the gaze of many who had been considering VR and some who had previously dismissed it all-together. Oculus also released the sequel to its original PCVR headset, titled Rift S. Even this headset had been simplified for consumers as tracking was internalized (like the Quest) and it only required a single wire to connect to your PC.
On the higher end of the VR ecosystem, Valve released its own headset for the Steam VR platform named the Index, which features a high end display, tracking stations, and a higher price tag than the aforementioned Oculus headsets. This might not have been a major story if Valve hadn’t announced that they were also working on Half-Life: Alyx, the long awaited next game in a historic franchise, would only be playable in VR.
The big news wasn’t done yet, though. Just in the past 2 months we’ve seen the announcement of PlayStation 5 (and more recently the strong possibility that it would make Half-Life: Alyx accessible to VR gamers), Finger Tracking and a PC link cable for Oculus Quest, and swirling rumors of a possible Left 4 Dead game that would also be “VR Only”.
Currently, you can’t find the Oculus Quest or Valve Index at any major retailers in the United States. They are sold out and on back order several weeks into 2020. The Playstation VR is doing well again this year with solid Black Friday specials and the promise of backwards compatibilty with PS5 and the Oculus Go (360 Viewing headset) was declared the “winner” of Black Friday by a major VR publication.
In summary, not only has VR sidestepped death in 2019, it’s poised for a market explosion in 2020.