Former Epic boss feels VR will be a hard sell to mainstream consumers

By Stephany Nunneley
21 March 2015 19:02 GMT

Former Epic president Mike Capps isn’t completely sold on Virtual Reality as he feels consumers have little tolerance for expensive investments or being forced to wear things on their faces, more or less.


Speaking with, Capps is of the opinion one of the main reasons 3D didn’t take off was due to potential customers being turned off to the fact they would need to wear 3D glasses.

A VR headset is as far from a pair of glasses as you can get, and when the price point is combined with needed a high-end PC, many consumers just won’t bother.

“There’s so little tolerance at the consumer level for that kind of an investment,” he said. “I think one of the things I’m most curious about – you look at 3DTV as a super easy to use technology that is really unfettered. Just a pair of polarized glasses and people didn’t use it because it wasn’t worth the trouble.

“The content difference was there. 3D Avatar looks way better than non-3D Avatar… If slipping on a pair of flicker glasses, is too much trouble – then the idea of, ‘Ok I’m going to put on my head mount rig and fire up my liquid cooled PC in order to make it happen’ isn’t likely to take off.”

Capps added he hopes “it happens” but thinks it will be quiet a while before consumers make the leap. Compounded with the possibility of any word of motion sickness or other issues with the tech, and VR could end up dead in the water.

“Any reports of nausea and vomiting and it’s game over in a hurry, as Carmack said in his talk, ‘We ship a bunch of these Gear VRs and have an 80% return rate and everyone’s throwing up and then that’s the end. It’s done. No one’s going to buy it next round.’

“So please, gosh, guys, don’t screw it up. Take all the time you need,” Capps said.

Augmented reality such as HoloLens or CastAR would likely be an easier sell, said Capps, as the world around you isn’t closed off with a headset.

“Just the fact that I could be using [AR] in the room with my kids, I could be keeping an eye on them while I’m playing, like I do when I’m on an Xbox, like I do when I’m on my iPhone,” he said.

“If I slap a headset on, I’m no longer dad. So there’s a huge number of use cases where people cannot afford to shut out the world even though it’s a wonderful way to maximize your entertainment experience.”

Epic boss Tim Sweeney has a different opinion on Virtual Reality. He feels i wouldn’t fall out of favor with consumers as fast as 3DTV as VR fills the immersion gap 3D couldn’t.

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