Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of Rockstar and 2K parent company Take-Two, has been very open and vocal in his criticisms of virtual reality. But now, the executive has spoken about augmented reality--and he sounds a lot more hopeful and interested.
Speaking during a Take-Two earnings briefing today, Zelnick said AR and VR are "completely different user experiences." AR doesn't necessarily lead to the physical discomfort that some VR users feel, while there are other benefits as well to AR.
"The concerns that I raised regarding VR are not applicable to AR. In order to have an AR experience, you don't necessarily have to be wearing glasses or a headset," he said. "You're not burdened by being in a particular location. And the discomfort factor does not exist necessarily."
Zelnick went on to say that there has already been one major example of how AR gaming can be successful: Pokemon Go. The smash hit mobile game has reportedly brought in more than $1 billion in revenue. Zelnick said it "peaked relatively quickly." That might be the case, but it's still a huge hit, for sure. Whatever the case, Pokemon Go's rapid rise and subsequence drop-off in players is a separate issue from the appeal of AR as a technology in general, Zelnick said.
Whether or not AR succeeds as a gaming platform will depend on the games that developers make for it, to show off its unique appeal.
"I have no skepticism about the possibilities for AR," Zelnick said. "It's in the hands of the developers. Are they passionate about an idea, and is the idea brought to reality in a spectacular, exciting, and compelling way? So I think there is great opportunity [but] it remains to be seen if the AR technology itself is what creates the opportunity."
The executive went on to say that video games are a unique entertainment form in that they combine elements such as technology, gameplay, story, and characters. All of these elements are progressing in their own ways, at the same time, and this is an exciting development but it also means that predicting where games are going is no easy task.
"It's pretty hard to predict what will excite consumers," Zelnick said. "More to come, but I don't have any skepticism, particularly about AR technology."
Microsoft is working on an AR platform in the form of HoloLens. Right now, the headset is only available for developers. A consumer model is coming, but Microsoft has said it doesn't want to rush the product to market to try to avoid a Kinect situation.