Speaker Q&A: Patrick Walker provides insight on the consumer VR industry

Vice President of Insights and Analytics at EEDAR Patrick Walker will be at VRDC 2017 to present his talk Data and Insight in the VR Market 2017, where data and insights from the first two years of commercial VR will be shared. Here, Walker gives us some information about himself and the future of consumer VR.

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Tell us about yourself and your work in VR/AR

I oversee the Solutions department at EEDAR, a leading market research company in the games industry.  In this role, I lead a team of analysts who work with gaming companies to help them be successful. EEDAR has been heavily involved in this current wave of consumer VR because of our tight consulting relationship with gaming companies.  Initially, we helped several of the major platform holders develop their product launch strategy surrounding content and execution.  Now that consumer VR has been on the market for several years we provide the industry with market data, from reporting how well various headsets perform to exploring who the early VR adopters are and what motivates their behavior.   

Without spoiling it too much, tell us what you’ll be talking about at VRDC

My presentation will be providing consumer and performance data focused on the VR industry.

What excites you most about VR/AR?

The thing that excites me most about VR is the democratization of experience.  Currently, so much of the full range of human experience is limited to a select group of individuals because of barriers such as location, cost, and lack of time.  In addition, many experiences are outside of one’s reach even if that person has a high amount of freedom and resources.  Take, for example, big wave surfing.  There are probably several hundred people in the world capable of riding a 40-foot wave.  One of the promises of fully realized VR is a world in which this type of thrilling experience is available to everyone.

What do you think is the biggest challenge to realizing VR/AR’s potential?

VR’s challenge is the interrelated relationship between several major barriers, including device accessibility, price-point, device quality, and content quality.  These barriers interrelate differently for high-end PC/console VR and low-end mobile VR.  For the high-end market, the price-point is currently too high for a user friendly (e.g. cordless, quick set up) headset/platform with enough ownership to incentivize truly amazing content with a premium development budget ($100MM+).  On the mobile side, compelling use cases are needed to drive mainstream adoption.  However, experience quality at the lower price points is  still relatively poor, limiting adoption and therefore the technology lacks the scale necessary for social VR.

Unfortunately,  because VR is such a great experience and has so many conceivable use cases, the technology is very easy to get excited about.  This led to many overly optimistic media and analyst predictions in the first year of launch and an inevitable disappointment when growth has been slower and more realistic.

What do you think are contributing factors that could be holding consumers back from engaging in VR? How would you approach explaining the benefits of VR to a consumer that was on the fence?

One common misconception in potential consumers is that VR is necessarily an isolating experience.  People see images of someone wearing a headset and they assume that a VR experience traps you in your own world and disconnects you from the people around you.  In practice, I find social VR experiences to be the most intimate form of interactive entertainment I’ve experienced.  Playing a game with a friend on the couch is a collective exercise, but you don’t feel nearly as connected as inhabiting a virtual world with another person.

Register for VRDC Fall 2017 to hear more about commercial VR from Patrick, and join other creators of amazing, immersive experiences at the premier industry event.