The future of virtual reality may not be the HTC Vive, according to maker Gabe Newell.
Video game developer Valve, in partnership with HTC, last year launched the Vive: an impressive but expensive headset that requires a beefy PC to operate.
Despite ample excitement, virtual reality is still in its infancy; Newell likens the platform to the launch of personal computers in the early 1980s
“It’s like 1981, and the PC has just come out for the first time, and everybody’s going to use it for recipes,” he said during a recent media event, as reported by Polygon.
“And then it was like this other weird spreadsheet thing which nobody had ever used before,” the Valve boss continued. “And suddenly it turned out to be a really compelling argument for businesses to start having these PCs, even though the IT guys hated them.”
Though we’re far from a world similarly permeated by virtual reality, the technology is worth exploring, according to Newell, who believes in VR as a “sustainable business” that will continue to grow, Polygon said.
Valve currently boasts nearly 1,300 Vive VR apps available from Steam, ranging in price from free-to-play to more than $55. But those applications are pointless if no one is using the platform.
“Vive is the most expensive device on the market,” Newell told a crowd of journalists last week. “It’s barely capable of doing a marginally adequate job of delivering a VR experience.”
But the computer programmer and businessman—valued at $4.1 billion—can afford to take it slow; there is no rush for Valve to conquer virtual reality ahead of competitors like Sony, Oculus, Samsung, or Google.
“We’re optimistic. We think VR is going great. It’s going in a way that’s consistent with our expectations,” Newell told the crowd of reporters last week. “We’re also pretty comfortable with the idea that it will turn out to be a complete failure.”
For now, Valve’s main focus is improving hardware; smaller, lighter VR headsets with higher resolutions are coming in the next two years, according to Newell.