The newest video game fad to hit the industry has been VR. While many thought it would be a passing gimmick, the strong start of the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, coupled with the upcoming release of the Playstation VR proved that bulky headsets tracking the motions of our heads while projecting a world before our eyes are here to stay.
However, CEO of Take-Two Interactive Software Strauss Zelnick is not convinced. He recently attended the Cowen and Company Technology, Media & Telecom Conference where he spoke about quite a few topics relevant to GTA and gaming as a whole. On of these topics was the viability of VR.
Zelnick has been known to be a VR skeptic since as long as 2014, however back then he was more open to the concept, claiming that if VR would eventually become popular, his company would not only jump on the bandwagon, but lead the way.
We are concerned that you’ll play our games for a long period of time — we don’t want people getting nauseated. And also, having had the experience, I’m not sure how long you want an immersive headset on your head […] If that’s what consumers want, we’ll be first in line to give it to them.
Yet here we are, with two of the three major VR devices available with ever-growing libraries. The sales figures of the Rift and Vive prove that yes, there is a market for VR. But where are Take-Two’s VR games? Where is our GTA VR edition?
Based on his comments at the conference, he has jumped off the fence and is now clearly in one of the camps on the VR debate – and it seems he’s against. Zelnick has cited cost and space as issues which impede VR from becoming a truly mainstream phenomenon.
It is true that you need a really beefy PC to support either of the VR headsets. You shouldn’t even try with anything worse than a GTX 980 in terms of graphics cards and you need a higher-end CPU as well. Of course, no two VR games are equals either and some demand even more from your rig.
Then there are the headsets themselves, both of which are pretty pricey (The Rift costs $599 while the Vive goes for $799), which gets you the method of play but no actual games – which you need to buy separately. You probably didn’t upgrade your rig and invested in a headset for just one game either, so add another hundred bucks to that.
On the space side of things, the Oculus gets a free pass so to say, since it is intended to be used while seated. The room-scale feature of the Vive, however, would have you dedicate a whole room to VR. While it is most certainly worth it, having a whole room just for VR activities is kinda ludicrous. What if you live in a flat, not a house?
It’s way too expensive right now. There is no market for a $2000 entertainment device that requires you to dedicate a room to the activity. I don’t know what people could be thinking. Maybe some of the people in this room have a room to dedicate to an entertainment activity, but back here in the real world? That’s not what we have in America.
His opinion is pretty staunch and more than a little scathing. While his arguments make sense on paper, reality doesn’t seem to back it up. High-end gaming PCs, though multi-functional can probably called entertainment devices because that’s the reason for their expensive components, can easily cost around about two thousand bucks and there is a definite market for those too.
Plus VR happens to be more than a tad popular. Both the Rift and the Vive has enjoyed a pretty wide range of adoption despite being relatively new tech. Both consumers and developers are flocking to VR. So where is Zelnick coming from?
We have like $300 to spend on an entertainment device and we do not have a dedicated room. We have a room for a screen, a couch, and controllers. We don’t have something where you stand in a big open space and hold two controllers with something on your head–and not crash into the coffee table. We don’t have that.
He’s coming from his audience. Take-Two games have always enjoyed the mainstream attention of the non-hardcore gaming crowd. A massive percentage of GTA 5 players, for example, aren’t even “gamers”. They either don’t play anything else, or only other mainstream titles like sports games and Call of Duty. These consumers won’t buy in.
While as a whole, VR is pretty popular, it hasn’t broken out of its bubble yet and only a fraction of the VR audience would be interested in anything Take-Two would have to offer. For a company that grew on mainstream revenue, that isn’t a sound business case.
Would you play a VR version of GTA 5?
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