Cubicle Ninjas' Joshua Farkas, whose studio made a top-ranked Gear VR app called Gudided Meditation VR recently published a series of tweets talking about the virtual reality marketplace, in particular comparing Oculus' efforts with their own store and Gear VR, as in comparison to Steam VR. The whole thing is worth a read, and you can check out his thoughts that I've collected in a Storify page. There are a lot of interesting thoughts in Farkas' comments, but what's most interesting is the is the commentary on the Gear VR audience, and how they're more transient than the Steam VR audience. Gear VR has a questionable future ahead – Samsung phones are the only ones that can use the Gear VR, and the Galaxy Note 7's combustion issues are sure to shake consumer confidence in Samsung phones. This is especially problematic for Oculus, who are seeing Google start to enter the VR space with a greater seriousness with Daydream and the Daydream View headset.

While Farkas' conclusion on mobile VR versus desktop VR right now is that desktop users are more likely to stick around for longer and desire more free content (which is not unlike mobile at present), I'm curious if this will hold true in the long term. Is mobile VR suffering from a chicken-and-the-egg scenario where users are more transient because the software is being built more to mobile standards, and shorter experiences? The counterpoint could be that the Gear VR audience could be particularly attuned to Samsung buyers, with Samsung being a premium brand on Android, but also that Gear VR is a marketplace just for Samsung owners. Would Samsung owners be more willing to pay for content, and Daydream/Cardboard/Apple VR users be less likely to pay for content, especially longer-form, cross-platform experiences?

google-daydream-view-headset

It will be interesting to see how Google's efforts with Daydream VR fare, and when Apple enters the marketplace. But the concern that mobile users are hesitant to engage in long-form VR content because they're using their phones might be an avenue for software to sort this out, to make sure that people can still utilize their phones as phones even in VR. I remain skeptical of VR's opportunities in the console/PC space – I think VR needs more mass-market adoption, and that will happen through mobile before dedicated solutions take over. And I fear that the audience that needs to buy high-power gaming hardware that most VR developers are targeting is smaller than they might think, and those that target mobile early on will be more likely to succeed in the long-term with VR...if it even happens. And There's lots of questions that are still being raised while VR's other questions about its future are yet to be answered. Regardless, these are fascinating times for virtual reality.

  • HelperMonkey

    People might be hesitant to strap a Samsung device to their faces right now...
    Still, I think the very low entry cost VR experience they've made widely available is going to open the door for VR in general just by exposing more people to the potential. (Picturing my 90 year old grandma going bonkers wearing my brother's Gear VR last Xmas.. Certain things are truly priceless.) From there, I think people will head in the direction they're inclined either way; casual gamers will stick with the various mobile options, and gamers that tend toward more serious hardware and bigger experiences will be able to get what they're after.
    In the end, though, I think Google's recent big push into hardware - with both new phones and their further VR commitment - is a serious threat to their competition (as tends to be the case with Google).

    • mabus51

      The device is no longer compatible with Note 7. So should be safe?

  • Michal Hochmajer

    Definitely mobile VR way to go!
    Good starting point, relatively cheap, accessible, no cables etc.
    That will be simply enough for mass market.
    Technologically VR surpasses mobile VR, but...
    I also like the idea, that mobile VR can be used right off the bat as augmented reality. And in my humble opinion, AR will be mainstream in future rather than VR as for gaming. I hope some company invest their money into the development of mobile size screen with sort of interlaced rendering (rendering every 4th ideally). So we can finally use mobile with 4k res in VR and 2k else.

  • boydstr

    I bought 2 different types of VR glasses but the overall problem is that it is not built for a specific type of phone I have iPhone 6+ but it's so difficult to put in my VR glasses I have to find the middle of the screen and than quickly close the glasses and that its almost impossible without that the phone moves inside the VR and so it's not correctly aligned the only things that hold the phone in place are some soft styrofoam 1cm squares in de 4 corners so if they made classes that are tailer made for a brand it should be working great I try some VR games but the view was always off so it's all in the way the VR glasses are built and if it will take off.I hope there comes a time that 3D phone screens take off in a big way and when can 3D games without the annoying glasses.