2016 is the year that virtual reality started making inroads in the gaming and simulation markets. Because of this many people find themselves asking whether the headsets that are available should be on their holiday shopping lists. To answer this question with a “yes” or a “no” would do no justice to the amount of complexity behind this purchasing decision. Instead of providing a definitive answer, perhaps the best thing to do is to dive into the most compelling deciding factors that can assist in making a more educated choice on whether or not to purchase virtual reality headsets in 2017.
Anyone Buying Into VR Is Still an Early Adopter
It was 2007 – nine years before this was published – when the first Apple iPhone took the cellular phone market by storm and set off a chain of events that led to smartphones becoming a ubiquitous utility. While the rate at which smartphones have advanced to become the powerhouses that they are today is impressive, it’s easy to forget how rudimentary and underwhelming the trailblazers that started it all actually were. If you hold one of these old phones in your hand, you’d probably trash it within five minutes and set your gaze back on what you currently have. As underpowered as these devices were, they cost about as much back when they were released as the one you use today.
Now, apply this logic to virtual reality. Sure, the technology is exciting, but it is still in its nascent stage. Like many technologies in this situation, there’s not a lot of software that runs with it. Once the trend starts catching on and more games are developed with virtual reality in mind, reverse compatibility with current headsets might not be a priority. Since headsets function a lot like displays, it’s very unlikely they will become obsolete on the hardware end of the spectrum.
As far as resolution is concerned, though, we must remember that many modern games have abandoned the old 640×480 and 800×600 standards, making them unable to work on very old displays. At the very beginning of a technology’s lifecycle, it goes through several awkward adjustments that could lead to older models no longer being a priority for software developers. Think of how quickly Android applications stopped working properly on Gingerbread systems after the fancier versions came out.
Even if the march of technological progress doesn’t leave your headset behind, newer and better headsets will come along which you may regret not waiting for.
There Are a Lot of Expenses Involved
If you’re thinking about buying an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive, you’ll be very disappointed if that’s all you’re buying and the last time you upgraded your PC was in 2013. In order to enjoy the experience of immersing yourself in virtual reality, you will have to be able to run all of your games at twice their resolution and at 90 frames per second.
Aside from the hundreds of dollars you’re spending on the headset itself, you’ll have to soup up your computer to have a bare minimum of 8 GB of RAM. Sure, that’s not so expensive, but you’ll also need at the very least an Nvidia GTX 970 graphics card and a mid-range Intel Core i3 processor (maybe the 6300T or something better). At worst, you could end up spending upwards of a couple hundred dollars just to get your computer ready for either of these headsets. The best case scenario is that you’ve already upgraded your system significantly and don’t need to worry about these factors.
Why Buy One?
Aside from the fact that early adoption helps refine new technologies, the benefits you personally draw from purchasing a VR headset at its earliest stages is that you can take part in a new experience with the current gaming releases that support it. Although the possibility is becoming remote as each day passes, any new technology like this one can fall flat.
In such a case, if you purchased a headset early you’ll be in possession of it before production stops, and you’ll have bought yourself immunity from the technology’s disappearance. At the point we’re having this discussion, however, VR is beginning to reach that stage in which obsolescence is unlikely for the next few years. If you invest in it, you’ll likely enjoy your headset for at least half a decade.
If you have the money to burn on all of this, go ahead and shoot for it!
Are you planning on buying a VR headset? Were you holding off? Tell us all about it in a comment!