Friday, December 13, 2013

Oculus Raises More Money but 3D Gaming Is Still a Challenge

Zalc
“Oculus Raises More Money but 3D Gaming Is Still a Challenge ”
 http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2013/12/13/oculus-raises-more-money-but-3d-gaming-is-still-a-challenge/
December 13, 2013

            We all remember when the gaming industry was (and appernetly still is) trying to make 3D gaming happen. Nintendo tried twenty years ago with a virtual-reality headset called “Virtual Boy.”  Although they were the pioneers for their time, the sales were so poor that it forced Nintendo to discontinue the gaming device within the year. In 2011 Nintendo tried again with its 3DS that was handheld and did not need the huge goggles that the Virtual Boy required.  Consumers were not too interested in the 3DS and its sales also plummeted.  It was only when the 3DS decreased its price by 40% that it was able to gain some attention.
            
       All hope is not lost for gamers in dreams of playing in a 3D atmosphere. Oculus VR of Irvine, California has been working on a 3D virtual-reality technology for gamers. Oculus has said to have raised $75 million in its second major funding with the efforts of the venture firm Andreessen Horwitz. In creating this 3D virtual-reality, the company is creating headsets for the gamers, but has not stated when it will be released. Oculus recently developed a prototype with a current design that has been sold to developers. This prototype includes a box like screen in front of the customers head that is held on with a strap. Brendan Iribe, chief executive at Oculus said that he is confident that this is all the money that they will need to get the first vision to the consumers at a high volume. The cost of building each device is between $100-200, Oculus has sold 40,000 prototypes to developers for a year now.


            “We want to do this on our own…We want to get the consumer market the way we believe it needs to happen,” Iribe said and may be it is for the better. As is with all products, the visual appearance of the product and the functionality of the product has a huge effect on its success. With a strap holding this very expensive screen, will gamers be able to play comfortably? Or will they enjoy it so much that they will be sucked into this digital 3D world of Oculus? At either rate, the development of this 3D gaming device seems to be expensive and at risk of falling once more. As is with many products, the overall hope for Oculus is to be able to export the product internationally, which may cause problems entering international markets. In some markets it may have a positive response, however in other markets it could have a very negative response. An additional question would be how healthy is it for gamers to be so close to a 3D screen for long periods of time? More importantly, why is Oculus testing this product only in the United States and not in other countries where gaming is more prevalent? An additional concern will be the international laws and barriers to entry for those products on a technology that has failed numerous times.

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