David Braben urges VR caution

Ben Parfitt
David Braben urges VR caution

Another significant industry figure has warned that we cannot yet be certain what extent virtual reality will succeed in the market.

"I'm afraid, as an industry, about VR and how it will play out. It has that slightly 'bandwagon' feel about it,” Elite creator David Braben told Videogamer. VR is great, don't get me wrong, and I enjoy it. We've supported it wholeheartedly right from the start.

"I think the experience is great, the vibe is amazing. It's really good, and I'm impressed as to where Oculus are with their controller as well. And that isn't just me criticising [VR. I just think that we've got to get our position and messaging right, and make sure the games are things that people will be comfortable with. It's stating the obvious, but I actually don't think that head-mounted displays are best for all games.

But what I suppose the concern is, when [VR] goes broad, if it goes broad, is seeing your kids on the sofa, even more disconnected than they are now, with headphones and headsets on, I think from a parental point of view is going to be a negative.

"I think that as an industry we need to thinking about that now. About how we position it. I think it's important that someone when they come into the room they can see what [you're] doing. Currently, that's not necessarily the case. It's that sort of thing that I think is important, and whilst [VR] is still at the moment, let's admit it, quite niche, we know of a number of production [units] coming very shortly. And so I suppose that's just a concern.”

Opinion on VR will likely remain divided for quite some time, with serious weight on both sides of the equation.

Shortly after Facebook's acquisition of Oculus, Mark Zuckerberg said that VR is the next major computing platform that will come after mobile” and described a future where we effectively exist with a helmet strapped to our heads.

Gaming's just the start,” he argued. After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world, consulting with a doctor face-to-face or going shopping in a virtual store where you can touch and explore the product you're interested in, just by putting on goggles in your own home."

AMD has predicted that VR is going to be the most compelling and engaging computing platform ever”, while Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe has spoken of plans for an MMO that supports 1bn simultaneous players.

On the flip side, however, major gaming executives such as Strauss Zelnick, Warren Spector and Nintendo pair Shigeru Miyamoto and Reggie Fils-Aime have all questioned the reality behind the hype.

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