Valve's head of research and development Michael Abrash believes "compelling" consumer-priced VR hardware could make a splash by 2015.
Speaking during a talk at Steam Dev Days last week and reported by USA Today, Abrash said it's possible the tech could "transform the entire entertainment industry."
"It's the sense of being someplace else while in virtual reality; many people feel as if they've been teleported," he said. "Presence is an incredibly powerful sensation, and it's unique to VR; there's no way to create it in any other medium.
"You see, for latency and bandwidth reasons, presence can only happen with a head-mounted display connected to a device capable of heavy-duty 3D rendering, so there's no way that TV, movies, streaming, or anything that lacks lots of local compute power is up to the task."
Before full-on virtual reality can become mainstream though, developers will have to overcome "bigger and harder problems" than just what's inherent in head-mounted displays such as Oculus VR's Crystal Cove goggles.
"Haptics, 3D-audio, body tracking and input are going to be huge positives for presence, and they're bigger and harder problems than head-mounted displays," said Abrash. "I'm confident that that work will happen soon, now that we've demonstrated what's possible, and if that happens, it should be feasible to have these head-mounted displays on the market within a couple of years."
Valve announced last week it has no plans to develop a consumer VR product, and will instead work with Oculus Rift to help bring VR to PC.