No One Might Purchase A PS5 Or Xbox Sequence X This Christmas, So They Purchased Oculus Quest 2 VR Headsets
This has been a very, very strange holiday season for many consumers, given the global scarcity that hit a lot of products, especially video game consoles. It has been over a year since the PS5 and Xbox Series X launched, but the consoles are just as hard to find now as they were right after they launched, if not more difficult as the scarcity has worsened in many ways.
An interesting side effect seems to have happened this year. Since so few people could actually find PS5s and Xbox Series X consoles to get their friends or family around, we saw a surge in another type of hardware. VR headsets. In particular, the Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets, with which the Oculus app has risen to number 1 in the app store and has brought the VR developers an enormous number of players.
The developers are practically beside themselves talking about how ridiculous those Christmas waves were for their games. You have never seen anything like this:
Are people just … really suddenly into VR? I think that’s an explanation, but I think it’s a confluence of factors, not just one thing.
- I think console scarcity plays an important role in this. Even if your child wanted a PS5, opening up a VR headset and playing around with it is still extremely fun. This does not produce sad recipients.
- All the Metaverse hype may actually have done some marketing work here. When you hear enough times that this technology is the future, you may actually think it is time to pull the trigger and invest in it, even though reality is still far from those lofty dreams.
- Finally, at this point the price and ease of use of VR, especially Quest 2, which is relatively cheap (the price of a Nintendo Switch) and doesn’t need to be plugged into (and used) a powerful gaming PC to run, none at all Wires) is the most consumer-friendly iteration of the technology we’ve seen so far.
A constant question was whether there would ever be a “moment” for VR, a unique turning point when it went from niche to mainstream adoption. I’m not convinced that such a clear moment will ever come, nor that a game can offer it (if Half-Life Alyx hadn’t, I’m not sure what it would). But this is one of the most significant moments I’ve likely seen for VR since its inception, and part of a slow and steady surge in mass adoption. It seems likely that we are still decades away from overwhelming VR usage and that it will continue to evolve in terms of its technical capabilities, price, and portability, but this is a big step. Even if it was favored by the simple inaccessibility of its hardware competition.
I’m curious to see how the longer-term usage rates of the Oculus Quest will turn out here after Christmas. One of my main problems with VR is that it’s very fun and exciting to use the first time you use it, but it can land on a shelf quickly when potential gamers return to more traditional games on consoles, PCs, or mobile devices. It’s too early for these Christmas adoptive kids to say this, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a downward trend over the next several weeks, even if the overall Christmas boost is good news for the scene.
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