Virtual reality will not follow in the footsteps of 3D TV and fall by the wayside.
That’s according to Epic boss Tim Sweeney, who told Game Informer that VR addresses the fundamental flaw that meant 3D TV was doomed from the start.
"3D televisions were this concept that could never really work properly," he argued. "You have a screen in a physical location in the world and there is only one point where that is going to look right for the viewer. If you are further away from that point, then your eyes are converging on the wrong location and that’s completely wrong and if you’re off center from the point it’s going to look completely wrong.
So everything about the 3D movies is wrong unless you are standing in one magical position and that’s kind of an abomination that the content industry and the movie industry especially never recognized how wrong that was and when it had marketing on all these products with a deeply flawed experience, you’re going to have very high expectations of reality. The moment you go beyond just a 2D image on a screen your brain circuits kick in that this is supposed to be reality and if it is not perfect it is incredibly jarring.
"With VR you are in that one magical position, your eyes are properly located relative to the screen so you have to control of each frame of the image for every viewer of the game which does not happen with a lot of people sitting in a theatre and so it can be done perfectly.
The only barriers to doing it perfectly are the latency of the hardware, the resolution of the screen, and the quality of the objects. All these are human engineering parameters that will be improved over time. I think we will be at a point where in ten years the quality of the hardware and the polish it has achieved will be so high that it will be genuinely indistinguishable from reality."
The TV industry poured billions of pounds into 3D, primarily in an effort to convince those who had invested in an HD flat panel to cough up yet again for a new display. Content makers, including games companies, tried to back the movement with a wave of content. But just a few short years later 3D TV is all but dead.
Is the fervour surrounding VR equally as ill judged?
There’s no doubt that those who try VR are blown away by the immersion it offers and the potential the technology exudes. But VR is not without compromise.
Aside from the expense, will users be happy to hide themselves away from their families under a headset for hours on end? After all, the need to wear 3D glasses was enough to rule that technology out for many. Why would a headset be any better received?
Plus, are the space requirements needed for a system like Valve’s SteamVR feasible? Space was a big problem for Kinect, after all. Is the ‘full’ VR experience needs a dedicated room, then are consumers going to be satisfied with a diluted version that is more home-friendly?
Then there’s the big question – motion sickness. Valve claims to have sorted that, of course, and the industry as a whole will certainly be hoping so as any technology that makes its users nautious is certainly doomed.