Are Virtual Reality Headsets DOA?

Virtual Reality headset are toys, not video games. This is why Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift will fail to be a commercial success. Players need their gaming experiences intuitive and follow the pattern of established rules. Products that deviate from these standards, such as the Xbox One (eighty), don’t receive recognition from the gaming community, which is necessary for these products marketed towards gamers.

Kinect, Playstation Move, the Wii U Gamepad and other add-on hardware ultimately fail. There exists a dedicated fan base for these experiences, but the majority of the community just wants a controller in hand. These peripherals promise more immersive gameplay, which Morpheusgamers say they want…but don’t actually enjoy. Headsets will fall into a similar trap. They will try and be an extension of the game instead of their own unique experience.

The gimmick of virtual reality isn’t enough to sustain these products long term. 3D technology demonstrated a resurgence in theaters and television companies tried to capture this in the home. Many manufacturers, such as Sony, took large losses from this gamble. Just like how most players use a 3DS with the 3D function off, gamers care more about the gaming experience than the visual interpretation (despite articles showcasing 1080p vs. 720).

Best case scenario, Oculus and Morpheus follow in the footsteps of the Wii. Gamers first picked up the console and shared it with their friends and family. Once everyone saw how easy, fun and intuitive the experience was they needed one in their own homes. Unfortunately, once purchased there wasn’t much to do on the Wii and this is still a problem Nintendo is struggling with. Their best game was the tech demo Wii Sports. Instead of creating the best gaming experience possible, they opted to create an extremely fun toy. Virtual reality will be doing the same.

The only hope is for these products to not be tied into the current video game infrastructure. If they can stand on their own with unique software and experiences then people might be interested. But if they instead try to create Half-Life 3 in a vr world, or recreate Wonderbook…then virtual reality headsets will collect dust in gamer’s closets with their Virtual Boy, uDraw tablet and Sega 32x.