Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

VR: Disillusionment at CES Las Vegas / Science Producers’ Congress Takeaway #1: VR is a Big Bust

Virtual Reality is suffering in the ‘trough of disillusionment.’

That’s the verdict on VR from the CES Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, according to Nick Winfield and The New York Times (January 9, 2017).

The VR negatives keep piling up:

  • Headsets come with sick bags.
  • Price points induce sticker shock.
  • Sales are slack.
  • Headset manufacturers are failing.
  • There’s a lack of ‘must have’ content.
  • Venture Capital is over the hype phase for VR, and funding is limited for new solutions.

My Takeaway

  • Sundance and many other documentary conference programmers rode the hype by introducing VR workshops and awards.
  • Lots of young creatives took the bait.
  • Time to give it up.
  • Instead, focus on the basics, i.e., how to make documentaries that ring the bell in our troubled time.

Read the full NYT article here:

And read our coverage of the VR BUST at Science Congress 2017 in Stockholm:

Science Producers’ Congress Takeaway #1: VR is a Big Bust
(December 11, 2016)

There was an unexpected consensus that VR is a bust as a mass consumer product at the excellent WCSFP panel RE-INVENTING TV IN THE DIGITAL AGE

Virtual Reality has failed miserably to excite consumers according to Sam Barcroft, who was the panel’s helpful data wrangler:

  • Oculus forecast VR product sales of 3.6 Mn units in 2016.
  • Oculus Rift actual sales are less than 50,000.
  • HTC’s targeted sales of 4-4.5 Mn units by the end of 2017 to break even.
  • By July 2016, HTC Vive had reached around 100,000 units.

The panelists cited possible future niche uses for VR:

  • Museum exhibitions
  • Education and training
  • Games – limited takeup but in a huge market
  • POP: Point of Purchase display

I’ve always had my doubts about a product that sickens around 20% of its users.

It saddens me to see eager young creatives shelling out their scarce funds to attend conferences and training courses that hype a VR future.

Virtual Context From Uruguay

Earlier this Fall I met with Alvaro Gonzalez who leads One Tango Studio in Montevideo.

Alvaro lectures at university and is a leader in Montevideo’s active games design community.

Here’s how he characterizes the failure of VR.

  • VR emerges in a world which I divide into two groups based on “the usability of devices, services and activities.” 
  • I call the first group COMPLEMENTARY USE
  • They have three fundamental characteristics:
    • They leave at least one sense unlocked,
    • They let the user be aware of what is happening around him,
    • They enable massive use.
  • The elements of this group tend to be connected in at least one way, and to at least one of the other elements.
  • Included are: Interpersonal interaction, smartphones, cameras, smart watches, computers, social networks, etc.
  • The second group is called OPPOSITE USE of a device/service/activity, and it is defined by:
    • Floods all the senses,
    • Demands full focus to complete the activity,
    • Occasional use.
  • In this group we find experiences like: taking a shower, watching a movie, going to a roller coaster, etc.
  • Because of its conceptual and functional characteristics, today’s VR is part of the OPPOSITE USE group.
  • This means that even with big advertising campaigns, VR won’t take part in the last +10 years of a boom in investment in connectivity for entertainment and technology.
  • For more information, write to Alvaro at

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