Industry insiders weigh in on the potential impact of the standalone headset.
Facebook’s standalone 6DOF headset, Oculus Quest hit retail stores on May 21st, and in just one week after launch, the VR headset was listed as sold out at many U.S. retailers such as Walmart, Amazon and Newegg, suggesting that VR is finally catching on with consumers.
So, what is about this iteration of the VR headset that is getting consumers outside of the VR industry all hyped up about VR? Devices such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and the Oculus Go all deliver a great VR experience, but neither of those devices really caught on and generated the excitement that the Oculus Quest has.
Is it a case of being in the right place at the right time? Or is it because VR has simply become easier to use and has become more affordable.
YouTuber Nathie told VRScout that – in his opinion – “the Quest shows the first glimpses of VR heading towards the tipping point of it going mainstream.”
He’s correct in that. Facebook’s Oculus Quest is shaping up to be one of the first popular VR headsets among average consumers; this is due in large part to their decision to abandon the intimidating complexities of high-end PC VR in favor of a more simplistic, but approachable experience.
Through a simple Facebook search, you’ll find multiple pages dedicated to VR, AR, Oculus Quest, HTC Vive and countless other VR and AR devices, all created by enthusiasts from all over the world, with people posting personal stories of how VR is changing their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
Douglas Dominguez, a plumber from Hampton, GA who is part of a Facebook Oculus Quest group, shared a Facebook post about a gentleman he knows who is confined to a wheelchair. In the embedded video, you can see the individual experiencing VR for the very first time, wearing Dominguez’s brand-new Oculus Quest to try an immersive experience where you are floating off into space in a weather balloon.
Dominguez writes, “His wife was so excited to see his reaction and immediately asked me for more info on the product and how to get one. She thanked me so much for introducing them to a product that will definitely improve his life.” Dominguez adds, “This is what the Quest is about, being able to offer a quality VR experience to people on the fly with no strings attached is a game changer.”
Its stories like this that seem to resonate with consumers and will ultimately help push the idea of VR as an everyday tool; whether it be in the classroom, on the job site, or in any other field.
During a recent trip to my local Best Buy – where they still have a limited amount of Quests in inventory – I met a woman who was buying an Oculus Quest for her daughter as a high school graduation gift. She told me, “I just thought it would be a really cool gift for her to take to college. My daughter talks about how she’s going to miss the VR lab in her HS, and this way she can take it with her to college. But I also bought it for a selfish reason. I heard that my daughter and I can hang out in virtual reality together.” It was at that point that the woman realized she was going to have to buy a second one.
There is no doubt that 2019 is shaping up to be one of the most important years for the industry. Businesses, as well as consumers, are realizing the potential the technology has outside of the gaming world, sparking a new wave of hype, as made evident by recent sales.
As reported, if you are attempting to purchase an Oculus Quest on sites such as Amazon, Walmart or Newegg, you may be told that it could be one or two months before you a package delivered to your front door.
Talking with VRScout, Mike McCready, Instructor in the Virtual and Augmented Reality Certification program at Lethbridge College said, “Personally, I think the shortage is a sign of the resurgence in consumer adoption of VR,” adding, “We were in a bit of a lull, but I think the Quest is going to re-energize interest and excitement in VR.”
Cas and Chary, a pair of passionate VR YouTubers, see the success of the Quest the same way as Dominguez, telling VRScout that the success is due to the price and its ease of use. You can put on the headset almost anywhere you want and start enjoying PC VR-like experiences (6DOF) right away.
Facebook Spaces pioneer and Social XR professional, Navah Berg also believes the success of the Quest with consumers stems from its ease of use. “You don’t need to know anything about VR to go from room to room!” For Berg, the appeal comes from the freedom to play anywhere without the headache of setting up; which, in her view, is the most important factor for consumers at the moment.
In an interview with VRScout, UX Researcher, Nick Dauchot said portability and content are playing big roles in the Quests success, but the most important element is its design. “I am a personal believer that when design is done right, the market follows,” said Dauchot. “Real reviews, advertisements, and general hype about the awesomeness of the Quest definitely helped build up confidence in the market.”
As for going more mainstream, Dauchot says it’s in the cards, stating that the portability and price of the device surely improve the breadth and scope of VR technology. However, we’re not totally there just yet. In Dauchot’s mind, it’s a cultural issue, stating, “Asking people to put a computer on their face is a very polarizing thing – some will enthusiastically accept it, others will never do it.”
There is still a lot of work ahead, according to Dauchot. Industry professionals need to better communicate why VR is such as revolutionary technology for fields such as communication, health, gaming, design, education, etc; especially when compared to the technology they are using now. The future is dependent on how people use the Quest and what stories the technology can help tell – and therein lies the challenge.
For now, the VR industry appears to have scored a big victory with the commercial success of the Oculus Quest. It may not be selling like the Elsa doll did in 2014, but in relation to the past sales of other headsets, it’s making some big waves.
Time will tell if the Oculus Quest continues to generate hype over the coming months, including the upcoming Christmas shopping season, which is only 5 months away. Yes.. just 5 MONTHS AWAY!