Why Is Virtual Reality Becoming So Popular Now?

It's a common question, particularly for folks like me who are old enough to remember the first wave of virtual reality machines and how quickly they went from fad to bad. Some smart person put this question to Palmer Luckey, one of the co-founders of Oculus Rift, and he had to interesting things to say in response.

The answer? Well mostly technology really. Virtual reality in the 90s was an idea that was ahead of the technology in a very big way. Motion tracking wasn't sophisticated enough, the headsets themselves were ludicrously expensive to research and produce, meaning that mass market penetration was next to impossible.

But another issue, says Luckey, is the power of PCs themselves.

"The biggest part: no matter how good the VR hardware was at the time, the computing power has never really been there," he explained. "Today, the average person’s PC, or even a $400 console can render… not a photorealistic environment, but a pretty good looking 3d environment. If you look at any of those old systems back then, they weren’t anything near photorealism. There were cool things you could do — you could render a wireframe, at high framerates, in 3d.. but it wasn’t anything consumers would latch on to."

Personally, it feels like the time is actually right for virtual reality. There are too many things working in its favour. Valve's support, affordability, the fact Sony appears to be investing in it. The next few years are going to be interesting.

Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey On Why Now Is The Time For VR, And The Biggest Hurdles Ahead [TechCrunch]


    Can't wait to see how it all pans out, pretty excited for the Oculus, but I'd like to see how the end-user models actually turn out and how much support there really is with games before buying one myself.

    I remember lining up for hours at Myers to test out the VR contraption ... goggles on ... commence floating hand hitting a rudimentary ball around a checkered room. VR fun times.

    Strap me in and bring me a sick bucket! WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

    I say fad. It'll die out again, like it has previous generations.

      There's a dev kit sitting on my desk right now.

      I wholeheartedly disagree with your theory. =)

        Oh sorry, didn't realise you had one. Thid stuff is the future. This time, ignoring all the times its come and gone before.

          Oh hey, sarcasm. Let me try:

          Totally! The advancement in graphics technology alone over the last twenty years obviously means nothing.

          Really? If all it takes to turn you off something is having failed before, I guess you'll pass on lots of new technologies that were tried before their times. Electric car comes to mind.

            Nope means nothing, its not the we have tried and failed. Its more we have tried many times and its not that each time it failed. People got over it. Its like fashion comes back every few years a little up dated hangs around till something else comes along.

              Everyone born in the year 2000 turns 14 this year.

              They haven't touched the past failures. I doubt many of them even know of any previous attempts unless mentioned in articles looking back on the tech.

              By everyone you mean your generation. And if we're in the same generation (I'm 25), you're waaaaay off base.

                Well im not in the same generation as you.
                And by everyone? When did i say everyone?
                And why do you keep calling them failures?

                  Fantastic. So we can assume there's a generational gap here.

                  Sorry, I over-read "People got over it". The point remains valid however. Your phrasing to me sounds like "the vast majority of people" rather than "a small proportion of people".

                  And simply, they were failures. They may have achieved ultimately what they set out to do at the time, but generally, they did so very poorly. Then again, seeing as I've never actually touched the stuff that came before I was born, or in my infancy, I can only go with what I read. What I read is generally not positive.

                  Last edited 10/03/14 10:03 pm

      Got to play around with an Oculus Rift 4 days ago courtesy of a mate who got a dev kit. If they come out at a half decent price, this will be the next big change in gaming. Bookmark it.

      If you haven't used a Rift, then your reply to my comment will be laughed at, spat on then ignored.

    We are so close. Kinect failed, Move failed. The same thing for Xbone & PS4 - fail, fail & fail. Lets get VR working and then invest in movement control systems that actually work properly. Then and only then can we play a fighting game properly.
    Hope my body still works when they finally get it right.

      When they get it "right" you won't need to worry about your body. Wetware is when the fun starts...

      I'm sorry noobytwo but if you asked Microsoft Kinect was a pretty big success lots of people bought a gen1 kinect and it allowed Microsoft to sell the xbox to a much younger target audience... I think you should keep your mouth shut before you make idiotic comments to the public

        Kinect made a lot of money, but the tech was pretty crappy.

        Also, relax. He said Kinect failed and depending on your metric for success, he could be totally right. He didn't kill your dog. Be cool.

    Its because of the Oculus Rift, the amount of attention it got. And I'm not going to lie, Oculus Rift won't be that amazing, but its going to inspire other developers to make their own better versions.

    Why Is Virtual Reality Becoming So Popular Now?
    Simple. technology has met the demands of VR, high-def LCD screens, detailed 3D graphics and processing power to enable fast framerates and more importantly low latency of movement sensors,

    The early VR setups were run on Commodore Amigas and were low rez, simple flat graphics and had high latency with breaks immersion and can produce motion sickness.

    Also in the early 90's before the rise of the first person shooter people were not used to gaming in first person perspective outside of flight/racing simulators, the genre's popular then were 2D fighters,side scrolling beat 'em/shoot 'em ups and adventure/RPG's which didn't lend themselves to VR .

    Sword Art online. People want it to be real. At least the game part of it not so much the death. I think. Can't say for sure.

    3D failed because i think tech like this is more promising/immersive. I don't think this is a passing fad by any means.

    Why is it taking off now? Because more people have grown up with computers, and think that being inside of the world of Oblivion/Skyrim might be cool? Or that Star Citizen as an immersive space game would KICK ASS over normal gaming. It's not every day that such an amazing technology is arriving at the same time as the engines and infrastructure to support it. Gaming has pretty much stagnated over the last 5 years and VR is poised to give it a well needed kick up the pants.

    Parallel to this I'm seeing a huge surge in FPV RC hobbies. So many people (myself included) are strapping goggles on and flying remote controlled multirotors and planes. The tech is there, it's good, it's cheap and the experience is exciting.

    I won't be strapping on an Oculus Rift and playing Battlefield for 2 hours but I would enjoy the experience elsewhere in my gaming. I await it and hope they can control the price.

    replies are down for me , shamed

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