For years, one of the biggest buzzwords related to technology has been Virtual Reality (VR). From sci-fi films back in the 1970s to video game market analysts, there has been plenty of coverage on the future of VR.
But efforts to create hardware and software for VR headsets hit multiple roadblocks in the last decade. First, developers struggled to create a headset and sensors that function seamlessly. Second, they worked to create software that could easily be loaded onto a video game console or through a PC. The final piece that VR groups like Oculus and Lenovo struggled with was affordability.
Today, the high cost of VR headsets and the other hardware needed to run them still prices many consumers out. However, with more companies creating VR technology, these prices are set to drop. These groups include Sony, Microsoft, Samsung, HTC, Google, Apple, and more.
And with the new push from multiple digital entertainment groups, more people could realistically have access to VR in the next decade. Analysts from Technavio, a market research company, believe the industry is about to take off worldwide.
Anticipated Growth from Technavio
From this year until 2025, Technavio reports that the VR market will grow by $162.71 billion. Around 34% of that growth will be focused in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, specifically within China and Japan (more on this below). This push will partly be driven by the accessibility of VR headsets and other hardware, as mentioned above.
However, the VR market is expected to diversify beyond entertainment. Previously, companies like HTC and Microsoft have targeted gamers, but are now likely to expand the market to education and smaller Augmented Reality (AR) platforms. Additionally, VR-ready mobile devices will likely be a focus of research and development from leading VR innovators.
Let’s break down which sectors VR will have the greatest effect on, as well as what consumers and educators can expect from leading developers in the coming years.
The Console War Between Microsoft & Sony
The majority of VR publicity has focused on entertainment. These types of experiences run the gambit. For example, casino gaming remains one of the most popular entertainment sectors worldwide. Whether selecting blackjack titles or looking for slots, there are quality platforms that provide different categories like weekly picks for a variety of games. Leading groups have also dipped a toe into VR, creating imaginative worlds for table games like poker.
At the moment, Meta’s Oculus VR technology is leading the charge for Facebook’s Metaverse. One of the biggest trends has been staking a (virtual) claim in Facebook’s Metaverse and other metaverses like Decentraland and Worldwide Webb Land. Some virtual property has sold for close to a million dollars.
The future of VR will be closely tied to these types of immersive second-life metaverses, as these experiences are only accessible through VR headsets (rather than AR accessibility). However, much of the VR boom in entertainment will also be tied to the console wars between Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox.
The Microsoft HoloLens and the Sony PlayStation VR are both available on the market. Sony’s product is far more affordable ($262 on Amazon) than the HoloLens ($3,643 on Amazon), which is part of the company’s strategy to reach more users. Microsoft’s HoloLens, by contrast, is a superior product… that not many will be able to afford.
Enterprise VR Close Behind
According to research from the International Data Corporation (IDC), just over half of the VR market is consumer-based. However, enterprise and the public sector are close behind. For context, a consumer market is based on entertainment, in which individuals buy VR for their own personal use.
Enterprise and public sectors instead focus on areas like business, healthcare, engineering, and retail. In these cases, VR isn’t designed to entertain, but to make certain services easier. This harkens back to the very first applications of VR, which stretch back to the early 20th century.
At the time, rudimentary VR projects weren’t centered around visuals-heavy headsets. Instead, the first VR project was the simulation of a pilot’s first flight. The idea was to educate a pilot in a controlled environment. Today, educational VR is focused on the medical field and engineering.
In both cases, VR allows professionals to practice in a simulation. This might help budding surgeons perfect their procedures before working with a live patient or allow engineers to test their designs before they start using physical materials.
APAC Will See Most Growth
The Technavio report mentioned above highlights that 34% of the expected VR growth until 2025 will be focused on the Asia-Pacific region. In addition to China and Japan, India will also provide a key market for growth for gaming-related VR.
Technavio points to a steep rise in investment in both VR and AR which accounts for this growth. As covered above, this isn’t focused solely on the gaming sector, but also on larger enterprise institutions, which includes major universities. Additionally, the emergence of varying VR-based companies means that there’s no single brand with a hold on the industry.
Many consumers are also aware of VR and are eager to participate in new gaming opportunities. In 2021, IDC reported that the market for individual headsets in the APAC region boomed by 60% in a single year. As more people have access to hardware, their interest in new VR experiences grows. Additionally, there are now more vendors (in the APAC region and beyond) that have inventories of various headsets, which they can sell to consumers. Historically, VR sales have been focused online but will benefit greatly from greater retail exposure.