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Former Epic Games President Feels Virtual Reality Will be Difficult to Sell to Mainstream Consumers

March 22, 2015Written by Zarmena Khan


Former president of Epic Games, Mike Capps, has said that although he hopes virtual reality takes off, it’s going to be a long and difficult road to get there. In an interview with, he said that consumer behavior towards VR and its pricing can be an issue.

There’s so little tolerance at the consumer level for that kind of an investment. And I think one of the things I’m most curious about – you look at 3DTV as a super easy to use technology that is really unfettered. Just a pair of polarized glasses and people didn’t use it because it wasn’t worth the trouble. The content difference was there. 3D Avatar looks way better than non-3D Avatar… If slipping on a pair of flicker glasses, is too much trouble – then the idea of, ‘Ok I’m going to put on my head mount rig and fire up my liquid cooled PC in order to make it happen’ [isn’t likely to take off]. I hope it happens but I think it’s going to be a while before my mom does that.

Capps is also concerned about being able to get developers on board due to the amount of uncertainty involved.

Last year when Oculus was visiting developers and saying you should develop a game for our platform, they were also saying, but we don’t know when it’s coming out and we don’t know how many people are going to buy it. And that’s a really hard story as a developer.

He noted that although this also happens when new consoles are introduced, companies like Microsoft tend to have a plan and shipping date at the very least. Capps believes that in order for VR to succeed, companies must get the technology right in the beginning, or it could all be over.

As Carmack said in his talk, ‘We ship a bunch of these Gear VRs and have an 80 percent return rate and everyone’s throwing up and then that’s the end. It’s done. No one’s going to buy it next round.’ So please, gosh, guys, don’t screw it up. Take all the time you need.

In the same interview, Capps said that he thinks augmented reality could have better market potential. 

Just the fact that I could be using that in the room with my kids and my kids could be playing with their toys… I could be keeping an eye on them while I’m playing, like I do when I’m on an Xbox, like I do when I’m on my iPhone, but if I slap a headset on, I’m no longer dad. That’s not allowed, right? So there’s a huge number of use cases where people cannot afford to shut out the world even though it’s a wonderful way to maximize your entertainment experience.

Capps does bring up some interesting points. What do our readers think?