We’ve established that interest in virtual reality is growing, but it’s difficult to say how much. Sales of VR headsets haven’t exactly been through the roof (most aren’t even available to consumers yet), and more content is being announced, it seems, than it is being seen.
Still, people can make predictions. Research firm SuperData projected that VR will have 10.8 million users by the end of 2016. That’s a big number…but the end of 2016 is a long time away. Furthermore, VR investments totaled around $2.6 billion in 2014 ($2 million of which came to Oculus from Facebook, with the rest spread amongst about 18 other VR companies), which would have been a hard figure to imagine just the year before. Plus, 1.3 million people already bought VR headsets last year.
So how will VR reach so many more viewers in a couple of years? Of these potential 10.8 million users, 46% are expected to access VR experiences on their PC devices (“a wave” of which will come out halfway through 2015, said SuperData — the Oculus Rift has already debuted and falls under this category), with consoles accounting for 28% of VR viewership (like Sony’s Morpheus) and mobile making up for the rest (which includes devices like Samsung’s Gear VR).
Consoles have a big presence here because gaming will serve as a major draw to VR, regardless of how many Hollywood studios are working to push out film-like VR experiences. So far, games make up a full 76% of all currently available VR content, which isn’t surprising at this stage. We’ll just have to wait and see if other content creators’ efforts pay off.
Of course, time alone will tell, and we’ve already seen a significant evolution in the medium within just the past couple of years. From the shipping of Oculus’s first Rift developer kits in March 2013 to Samsung offering the first truly retail VR headsets in Best Buys this past December, here’s a brief history of VR:
SuperData’s predictions and statistics come from transactional data from game publishers and developers all over the world.
This article is part of VideoInk’s “VI Goes VR” special issue, which explores the current opportunity and future potential in virtual reality for the entertainment industry.