It’s still not really in the mass market category, but the number of virtual reality headsets to be bought this year will be nearly double those bought a year ago.
One of the main reasons is that consumers still are not very familiar with virtual reality, based on new tracking data.
Within the next year, 9% of U.S. broadband households plan to purchase a virtual reality headset, up from 5% a year ago, according to research from Parks Associates.
Gaming still leads the list of VR activities. Here, in order, are the activities consumers expect to use virtual reality for:
- Play video games
- Watch entertainment videos
- Virtual tours or travel
- Watch live events (sports, concerts, etc.)
- Social interaction
- Educational purposes
There are some obstacles holding back VR growth.
For example, fewer than a quarter (23%) of consumers are familiar with virtual reality and even fewer with specific VR headsets.
“Familiarity is low, with fewer than 13% of consumers having experienced VR first hand,” stated Hunter Sappington, Parks Associates researcher.
Samsung’s Gear VR currently leads the VR market, with Sony’s PlayStation in second place. Among U.S. consumers who bought a VR headset last year, 31% bought a Samsung VR device and 12% bought Sony’s.
Approximately 24 million households worldwide will own at least one virtual reality device by the end of this year and 77 million households by 2021, according to Parks Associates.
Some in the industry are working on this, such as via demos at stores including Best Buy and GameStop.
The biggest VR hurdle at the moment may come down to the value proposition.
While the majority of consumers said they would like to be able to experience VR in their own homes, more than half in the Parks Associates study said they do not think the experience is worth the extra expense of buying a headset. A third of consumers also found the VR experience disorienting or uncomfortable.
Virtual reality still has a few hills to get over.