Virtual Reality: It’s About Changing the Game Not Playing It

11/30/2017 10:40 pm ET Updated Nov 30, 2017
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Virtual Reality (VR) games are big business. That’s the logical conclusion from being inundated with VR buying options during the 2017 holiday season.

Virtual Reality gaming sales are expected to top $5 billion USD in 2017. That is significant.

Then again, the overall computer games market is expected to generate in excess of $108 billion this year according to a report by Newzoo. It would be easy to conclude that Virtual Reality is destined to join the LaserDisc and QR Codes as promising technologies that never caught on.

Reaching that conclusion at this point in the product development and adoption cycle would be a mistake, however. Virtual Reality gaming revenues are expected to surpass $20 billion USD by 2020. A quadrupling in revenue in just a few years shows that Virtual Reality is here to stay.

The visibility of gaming draws attention from the broader impact Virtual Reality will play in the world. Its potential has never been limited to playing a game.

Frank Soqui, General Manager of VR and gaming for Intel, believes that Virtual Reality will completely redefine the experience economy. That will happen, according to Soqui, because, “digital technology has enormous potential to make the real world better.”

Soqui and his team focus a significant portion of their current attention on the gaming marketplace. He says that adapting Virtual Reality into that established ecosystem is a natural progression. That will change, however, as new Virtual Reality ecosystems are built and developed.

“Network latency is a current barrier in creating a seamless experience at the consumer and enterprise levels. Additionally, it isn’t easy for the average person to develop content at this point. Virtual Reality will grow exponentially as those to barriers are removed,” says Soqui.

Welcome to a World Where Everything is Virtually Possible

The social interaction potential for Virtual Reality is tremendous. Virtual Reality is already in use in the medical field to assist with surgical training, treat PTSD, conduct brain damage assessment and rehabilitation, and conduct social cognition training for young adults with autism.

That’s only the beginning, however. Intel’s Soqui says Virtual Reality will transform education, retail, workplace and military training, and a host of other applications that haven’t yet been considered.

Here are just a few things that are likely uses for Virtual Reality in the future:

Social interaction ideas: Attending concerts, participating a book discussion group with like-minded people from around the world, holding weekly conversations with a friend in another country while strolling your favorite beach; first dates.

  • Training and education ideas: Military training; active shooter or crisis response training for police departments; equipment maintenance training; public library programing; customer service training for staff; leadership and management training simulations; class field trips to other parts of the world.
  • Construction industry ideas: Architectural and construction design walk-through’s in a virtual space.
  • Retail industry ideas: Virtual and augmented purchasing experiences.

The list could go on, but you get the point. Frank Soqui is correct: Virtual Reality has the potential to completely transform the customer experience.

What’s holding us back?

For all its promise, Virtual Reality – along with its cousin Augmented Reality – is not quite ready for prime time. Lisa Peyton, Global Social & Immersive Media Strategist at Intel Corporation, cites three barriers that must be overcome for Virtual Reality to take its place as a game-changer technology:

  1. The technology is clunky. Today’s Virtual Reality headsets provide much better quality than the attempts of the early 1990’s. But, you still must put up with the discomfort of wearing the headset for extended periods; use of dedicated handsets and controls; and some tether to the computer running your program.
  2. The equipment is costly. Google Cardboard costs less than $20. Samsung’s Gear VR Mobile Headset will set you back less than $100. These products create a dramatic increase in accessibility. Unfortunately, lower cost also means lower quality. The best virtual experiences still require a significant investment for the equipment.
  3. We aren’t mentally ready to go virtual. Peyton believes that mass adoption of Virtual Reality requires a psychological evolution that society has not made at this time. There will be fear and resistance to its adoption and expansion.

Some would argue that these same barriers existed in the development and acceptance of the SMART phone. Given time, the challenges of clunky, overpriced equipment will be solved. Likewise, we will soon have an entire generation who grew up seeing Virtual Reality as normal. In other words, these problems will eventually take care of themselves.

What to do Next

The scariest change on the horizon is the one that you don’t see coming. Virtual Reality is lurking over the horizon. Now is the time for you to begin thinking about how an investment in Virtual Reality will help your business create and sustain a competitive advantage. Here are three actions you should start right now.

  1. Don’t just enjoy the novelty of today’s experience. Imagine the potential game changing attributes that you could apply to your business. The seeds of potential will be sewn by those who see how today’s game can morph into tomorrow’s customer experience.
  2. Take small steps as soon as it makes sense. This begins with clarity on how a virtual experience can help your business stand out. There are small steps you can take right now. Holiday cards augmented with 3D graphics can now be created and sent from several card sites. Get ready. There will be a virtual disruption in your industry sooner than you think.
  3. Pursue better don’t just embrace the novelty. The advice from Frank Soqui is critical for your success: The best companies will identify a clear, compelling reason to use this new technology. That reason will provide them a strategic advantage in the marketplace.

There was probably a time when you passed on a new opportunity because you weren’t sure if it had relevance in the future. Don’t do that with Virtual Reality. It’s not just about the games you can play today. It will be a game changer for how you engage your customers in the future.

Randy Pennington is an award-winning author, speaker, and leading authority on helping organizations achieve positive results in a world of accelerating change. To bring Randy to your organization or event, visit www.penningtongroup.com , email info@penningtongroup.com, or call 972.980.9857.

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