Valve’s President Gabe Newell said that the virtual reality (VR) industry still needs time to develop. While speaking to reporters at an informal meeting earlier this week, Newell made some surprising comments about the HTC Vive headset that Valve helped develop. After acknowledging that the Vive is the most expensive VR headset on the market, Valve’s chief said that “it’s barely capable of doing a marginally adequate job of delivering a VR experience.” As such, the VR ecosystem that Valve and HTC are currently trying to build will still need more time to grow and fulfill its potential, provided that ever happens.
The famous entrepreneur compared the current VR industry to the PC market of the 1980s in the sense that people were originally buying PCs without really understanding what they can be used for. Those types of consumers are also now driving the growth of VR hardware sales, Newell believes, adding that VR will hopefully end up being as successful as PCs were and still are. While it isn’t surprising that the President of Valve — a company that invested countless resources into developing the HTC Vive — is defending the VR industry, Newell also admitted his predictions could be entirely wrong. He illustrated that point by recalling how he thought the Nintendo DS is “kind of stupid” and believing that the PlayStation Portable would definitely outsell Nintendo’s handheld console. Of course, the opposite happened, which shows how hard it is to predict hardware sales, Newell explains. Valve’s chief also said VR hardware sales are currently inhibited by the general lack of content, adding that there’s currently not a single VR game on the market that could be considered a system-seller.
Newell’s comments are somewhat similar to those recently given by Mark Zuckerberg who said that the Facebook-owned Oculus has yet to develop “good virtual reality.” Overall, it seems that most major players in the industry are still cautiously optimistic about this technology, but everyone is apparently waiting for third-party developers to start making more high-quality experiences for VR hardware. Given that state of affairs, it’s possible that the VR industry is in for another slow year in terms of growth.