Nearly 200,000 VR head sets were sold in Australia in 2016 according to research outfit Telsyte. Its Australian VR & AR Market Study 2017 also revealed that mobile VR captured around 70 per cent share of units sold.

Nearly half of all device revenues were generated by the Sony PlayStation VR which is experiencing strong initial demand from video gamers.

The study also found that most consumers are interested in using the bulky neck-strainers for games, movies or entertainment purposes. Nearly half of all Australian households currently have a game console, making it fertile ground for early adopters.

Telsyte estimated that VR penetration will reach 25.5 per cent of households by 2021, based on attachment rates of headsets to VR capable smartphones, games consoles and higher end gaming PCs.

The company said the key driver for the adoption of VR headsets will be supported by content producers, in particular the AAA games titles and franchises. But many production houses are waiting for broader adoption and a clear winner to emerge before making large scale investments.

Telsyte Managing Director, Foad Fadaghi said, “We are entering a chicken and egg scenario with VR adoption.”

“Developers are looking for a growing base of users before making large investments, at the same time mainstream technology buyers are waiting for killer VR content or applications,” Fadaghi said.

The wide range of VR products available is also impacting consumer and developer uptake. Telsyte said that the choice of three main platforms (mobile, console, PC) and four main ecosystems (Oculus, PlayStation VR, HTC Vive/Stream VR, Google Daydream) is impacting consumer purchase decisions.

This will be further exasperated with more options in H2 2017.

Telsyte research also showed that early adopters are looking for a “distraction from reality”, although VR is typically used in small doses.

Nearly half indicated “they enjoy playing online games with friends”, 58 per cent indicated “they often feel stressed” and 49 per cent indicated they have “very little free time” (24 per cent, 18 per cent and 11 per cent higher than the average Australian respectively).

Telsyte’s assessment of VR hardware and software showed that most early devices on the market are in need of advancement to help the overall market grow.

Notwithstanding the health and safety concerns, VR hardware needs to become less visible, lighter and untethered, while software and content developers need to harness the technology better with less “demo” orientated releases.

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