Outside perception of Facebook’s virtual reality efforts seem encouraging, especially hot off the release of the wireless, untethered VR HMD Oculus Quest. One of the co-founders of Oculus, however, is skeptical. In fact, Jack McCauley doesn’t think there’s a real market for VR gaming.
“If we were gonna sell, we would’ve sold,” McCauley told CNBC via phone. McCauley was last with Oculus in November 2015 when the company was acquired by Facebook, so he witnessed the release of both the Oculus DK1 and DK2.
“Video games have not evolved into a 3-D experience for a number of reasons,” he continued. “I don’t know what kind of application it would be for VR that would keep players plugged in for six hours like they do with game consoles.”
Many people have different ideas of what success means within virtual reality. With so many standards yet to be nailed down, no one’s specific take stands above the rest and the industry continues to innovate and iterate. McCauley, however, was a founder for one of the pivotal VR headsets and some would think that role made him an informed evangelist or even biased toward the technology but it seems he was skeptical from the beginning.
“You put it on, and there’s a lot of ‘Wow!’ to it, but then what do you do with it?” McCauley said. “Even when I was there I thought people weren’t going to wear a headset and walk around with it in public.”
Keep in mind that McCauley seems to only be speaking on virtual reality as it pertains to the gaming industry. VR itself is being used across a plethora of industries, including vehicle engineering and medical training, so the technology itself will likely persist. There’s always a chance that the steady growth of VR gaming could taper off and he seems confident that will be the outcome.
“I may be wrong, but I’ve been doing this a long time,” he said. “I’ve already done a lot of what people do mistake-wise. You have your gut, and it tells you if you’re right or wrong. And in this case I think I’m right.”