Sweeney: VR will be bigger than smartphones

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has lofty expectations for the budding VR space, stating that he believes the technology will end up being bigger than the smartphone phenomenon.

In an interview with Polygon, Sweeney explained VR has the potential to go beyond the enormous reach smartphones and tablets have established over the past several years.

"It’s technology that I think will completely change the world," he said. "I think it’s going to be a bigger phenomenon than smartphones.”

You have to put it in perspective and realize we’re in maybe the [initial] iPhone stage right now where you have this really cool device, but it has some real flaws that prevent it from being a pervasive device for everyone.

There might be an audience for 10 million users of the current tech, but as it improves with each generation, the audience is going to keep growing until eventually you’re going to reach a critical point where you can put on one of these devices and have an experience that is effectively indistinguishable from reality.”

Sweeney added there are still a number of caveats that must be overcome, such as figuring out how to play speedy first-person shooters using VR without losing your lunch.

"Running at 30 miles per hour in an Unreal Tournament level makes you barf.”

Sweeney also expressed concern over Microsoft’s attempts to close off the PC platform, but added that Valve’s Steam platform has provided hope.

"I genuinely worry about the future of Microsoft. They’ve locked down Windows 8. They say future app developers should focus there, but you can only ship that with Microsoft’s permission and Microsoft’s approval through Microsoft’s store. And that sucks compared to the open nature of the PC platform before.”

Steam has been a great democratizing factor on PC and if Microsoft forecloses on PC then all developers will shift to other alternatives, like Steambox and Android."

That said, Epic’s CEO had good things to say about the Windows maker’s more recent developments.

"I sense kind of a renaissance at MS in the last six months. Talking to the DirectX team for example, they’re making some brilliant decisions on DirectX 12 to make it more efficient and more open than ever before. You just generally sense a momentum to be more open with the community and more broad with their Windows strategy. I’m hoping that takes root."

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