40 virtual reality predictions

At GDC Jesse Schell, Carnegie Mellon professor and game company CEO, made far-ranging predictions including forecasted shipments, VR addiction and porn.


At the Game Developer Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, Jesse Schell, professor at the Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center and CEO of Schell Games, made 40 predictions about the future of virtual reality.

He started his talk with an industry milestone and then a personal one. The industry milestone: consumer VR is a reality, the Samsung Gear VR is shipping to consumers. And, during the next month Oculus and the HTC Vive will ship to consumers. This GDC was a personal milestone for Schell, his 21st adding credibility to his predictions.

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1. VR is finally here, It isn’t a fad any longer. VR headsets will permanently be in the consumer market.

2. 8 million Gamer VR headsets will be sold in 2016. This estimate excludes mobile VR headsets like the Samsung Gear VR.

3. 4 mobile headsets will ship for each gamer headset.

4. VR headset shipments will double every year.

5. Fifty different headsets will be featured at CES 2017.

6. Microsoft will announce Xbox One Gamer VR Headset after Sony sells 10 million of its PS4 VR headset. Microsoft, he expects will announce it at the E3 Conference in 2018.

7. The majority of the VR revenue will be spent on more affordable and cordless VR headsets. Schell bets that Nintendo will develop an entry to compete.

8. Sony has created an interaction of mixed user experience called asymmetric games in industry jargon. In this game type some players interact using virtual reality headsets and others share the visual experience on a television. Schell believes Sony’s game concept will produce a top 10 VR game hit in 2017

9. Madden NFL 18 will move to VR platforms giving gamers an on-field VR football experience.

10. An entirely new game genre will emerge, probably produced by a startup without a prior operating history.

11. By the end of 2017 the media will blame VR gaming for a mass shooting. A VR first person shooter game (FPS) will develop optimized skills for shooting a room filled with people. Schell didn’t say it but the comparison he seemed to draw between the realism of an FPS VR game and and FPS console game was like training pilots with VR flight simulation compared to flight simulation on a flat screen

12. By the end of 2017, news stories about “VR Addiction” will be frequent.

13. By the end of 2018, there will be at least three movies playing on fears of VR.

14. Documentaries will be the first VR films to win major awards.

15. By 2020, VR porn will be a $1 billion industry worldwide.

16.  By 2020, there will be at least ten Virtual Reality Reality-TV Shows.

17. The Divine Comedy will provide a model for successful VR storytelling. Schell’s point needs explanation. Like Dante is led through the stages of hell by the spirit of the Roman epic poet Virgil in the Devine Comedy, VR 360 degree movie goers will need navigation in because they will need a guide in VR. He used the Russian Ark as an example of a movie shot in one 90 minute take with a narrator leading viewers through the Hermitage palace as an example of a 360 degree movie format that will become prevalent.

18. By the end of 2018, Comcast will have a VR channel.

19. For feature films to work in VR, they will need to be social. By 2025 your friends will be included in your feature film experience.

20. By 2025, the majority of VR revenue will be from social experiences.

21. By 2020, one of the top 10 VR games will be a dance game.

22. By the end of 2020, at least one VR MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) will have more than 1 million subscribers.

23. By 2025, VR/AR boardgames will be a $100 million business.

24. By the end of 2018, there will be a leading VR social platform, and it won’t be one of the old guard.

25. By 2018, VR Emoticons will be very popular, and have a stupid name. Think – VR emoticons.

26. In 2017, every US State Fair will have a VR Attraction.

27. By 2020 there will be at least 20 VR coasters worldwide. Schell said he beat his prediction – when he first made this prediction last year there were four VR roller coaster rides like this. Now there are 24.

28. By 2025 location based VR events analogous to the bowling alley with AR Glasses will be a thing.

29. By 2020, trackable props for VR and AR will be common. At first glance Schell makes an abstract point but props with tactile feel that people can touch, hold and interact with will add additional senses to VR experiences.

30. By 2025 the AR market will be dominated by “video AR” systems similar to the Vryana Toem and Google Tango.

31. By 2025, AR experiences synced with TV will be a thing.

32. At all levels in education augmented reality lectures will be popular by 2025. The teacher and students strap on VR goggles and all go to the same microscopic or telescopic place together.

33. By 2025, chasing VR phantoms in your house will be only a game for children.

34. By 2018, gamers will wear narrow glasses or get contacts that fit into VR headgear.

35. By 2020, really hardcore gamers will have headsets fitted with prescription lenses.

36. By 2018 eye tracking VR headsets will be available and bringing eye to eye contact into games and apps responsive to eye movement.

37. By 2020 foveated rendering will exist. This type of rendering increases resolution at specific focus points – for example where the eye is focuses.

38. By 2025 there will be no more corded VR systems tethered to a powerful PC. As amazing as the Oculus and Vive experiences may be, they are tethered to a powerful computer anchor. Cutting the VR cord will be even more liberating than cutting the TV cord.

39. When the difference between reality and virtual reality can’t be discerned with vision and hearing virtual touch will be the next development.

40. Robots will touch us by 2025 to fulfill the need for touch to complement the senses of vision and hearing.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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