Try Before You Buy is hard as brick and mortar becomes less reliable.
Andreessen Horowitz Partner Kyle Russell has been following VR and AR for quite a while now, and we share a concern for educating the public on these technologies. Plain and simple, too many folks who haven't actually strapped on an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift compare current VR to 3DTV. It's a strange misconception to those of us who have actually tried the tech, and there's no clear way to point and say "look, this shows how these things are clearly different" in conversation. Mixed Reality is close, rather it's closer than anything else, but it's still not the same as seeing these virtual environments through the lenses and experiencing the worlds being created within.
The only real solution I see right now is live demonstrations, and that's something HTC figured out fast in their production of the Vive. Their massive rolling demo stations on trucks spawned global excitement from every walk of life, and now that they've sorted shipping out we're seeing more demo stations at brick and mortar stores all over the US. It's a solid first step, one that places HTC and Steam VR a step ahead of Oculus for the moment, those 100 demo spaces are hardly enough to really seep into the public mindset. More is needed, and something other than demo spaces are needed.
I'm also a little concerned about the demo spaces themselves. The Microsoft Store in NYC had this incredible setup with a massive Surface Hub on the wall so anyone walking by could see what the Vive users was seeing, but the transition from experiencing the headset to "how can I get this is in my home?" was a little clumsy. The employee trying to explain graphics hardware to the guy who had just come out of the headset was pitching him on a laptop in the store with the GTX 960m, because the GTX 960 was listed as the minimum system requirements. Educating the sales reps is going to be a crucial part of this brick and mortar experience, at a time when that kind of education isn't a priority for most retailers because the upsell on accessories is what's more important to the bottom line.
A few other thoughts:
- E3 is here! We're going to be doing our thing and covering all things VR. Jez Corden, Paul Acevedo, and Mark Guim are all on the ground at the event, so be ready for all the greatness they will be bringing.
- Sony has already pulled in so much mindshare with PlayStation VR already, it'll be interesting to see how much time they spend talking about it this week.
- Star Trek in VR with your friends controlling individual stations? HELL YES.
- Hilarious and entirely too relevant doodles from Pendleton Ward on VR. Between this and Matthew Inman it's hard to catch a breath from laughing!
- Deep in thought about a VR podcast. I want to do it in VR, and I want to have tons of guest participation.
- Our HTC Vive and Gaming PC contest is still underway, if you haven't done the thing you really need to go do the thing.
That's all for now. This week is going to be epic! At the very least, it's going to include Epic. Oof, that was terrible.