VR developer focused on creating immersive storytelling experiences.
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September 28th, 2023
I love VR and have been using it since 2017 and even though I’m the biggest VR nerd, I also know that VR isn’t for everybody. Some people will be mindblown away by it and keep using it for years (like myself), whilst others will put it down after a few months and rarely ever use it again.
For those deciding whether they should get a VR headset, this guide will aim to give an unbiased assessment on whether VR is worth it in 2023/2024.
Is VR Worth it in 2023/2024?
I did a survey on Reddit asking people whether they thought buying a VR headset was worth it: 70% said yes it’s worth it, 26.4% said no and 3.6% said “other.” The majority of users think VR is worth it in 2023, however, a large minority also didn’t like VR. Let’s look at the reasons why:
What is Virtual Reality (VR)?
Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that you can interact with using special equipment such as VR headsets, controllers and sometimes, a powerful computer (or console) with basestations.
VR headsets work by showing two images of different angles to each eye, replicating binocular vision. This creates a 3D effect, making things appear as if they have depth, just like in real life. Cameras, infrared LEDs and controllers are used to track your movements and allow you to move around in the virtual world.
5 Main Reasons Why VR is Worth it
There are many people who think VR is worth it, but what makes it so great to them? Here are the top 5 responses:
1. Immersive Gaming
Immersive gaming is one of the biggest reasons to get VR, but it’s difficult to describe what “immersive gaming” is. The best way to describe it is imagine you’re sitting at home, reading a book. You’re aware of the words, the storyline, and your surroundings. Now, imagine instead that you’ve been pulled into the book’s world. You’re no longer in your living room; you’re standing on the edge of a cliff, or soaring across the city as Iron Man.
In VR, it’s not just about seeing a different environment on a screen in front of your eyes. It’s about that environment reacting and changing based on your movements and actions. When you turn your head to the left, you see what’s on your left in that world. When you reach out your hand, you can manipulate objects in that world.
One of the biggest challenges in maintaining a fitness routine is staying motivated. Traditional workouts can sometimes feel repetitive and mundane. A VR headset can transform exercise into an engaging, interactive experience. Instead of counting repetitions or watching the clock, you’ll be immersed in virtual worlds where you can climb mountains, box opponents, dance to catchy tunes, or even join fitness classes in exotic locations.
With a VR headset, you’re not limited to one type of exercise. The plethora of fitness apps and games available cater to a wide range of interests and fitness levels. Whether it’s cardio, strength training, flexibility exercises, or balance training, there’s likely a VR game or app that covers it.
Social VR is a groundbreaking evolution of online interaction, transforming digital communication from simple text and video calls into a vivid, shared virtual experience. Apps like VRChat and Alcove VR epitomize this revolution.
Imagine not just talking to a friend but dancing with them at a virtual club, exploring fantastical worlds together, or sitting side by side watching movies on a colossal screen, all while being continents apart in the real world.
The magic of social VR lies in its immersion and the depth of interaction it offers. In VRChat, for instance, users can design their avatars, create personal worlds, or participate in countless community events, ranging from game nights to educational seminars. On the other hand, Alcove VR provides a more intimate setting, perfect for family gatherings, where users can share photo albums, play board games, or embark on virtual travels.
Take, for instance, Microsoft Flight Simulator in VR. While the game on a regular screen already boasts breathtaking graphics and realistic flight physics, experiencing it in VR means you’re not just controlling a plane – you’re in the cockpit. You can look around, lean forward to inspect instruments, or even peer out of the window to view the landscape below, feeling every bit the pilot.
If you have a HOTAS (hands on throttle and stick), playing Elite Dangerous is one of the most mindblowing experiences you’ll ever have, as you’ll feel like you’re actually piloting a spaceship through space.
And then there’s also sim racing games like iRacing and Gran Turismo. I’ll let this video do all the talking:
5. 3D Movies with Friends
VR allows you to watch 2D, 3D and even 360 movies anywhere you want and with anybody across the world. You can be in a movie theatre, a living room, a moonlit beach, a serene forest or even outer space. Any imaginative setting is possible.
Popular VR apps like Bigscreen VR enhance this experience further. Not only can you watch movies or TV shows in stunningly detailed virtual environments, but you can also share this with friends or strangers from around the globe. Imagine having a movie night where participants are in different countries, yet everyone feels like they’re in the same room, sharing reactions and chatting in real-time.
In a sense, it’s not just about the film anymore but the unique blend of immersion, environment, and social interaction that VR brings to the table.
According to surveys, nearly 60% of people experience VR motion sickness, making this one of the biggest reasons why VR isn’t worth it.
Although most people are able to overcome it, 20% of people never overcome it and quit using VR.
Luckily, nowadays there are many stationary VR apps that don’t cause motion sickness in 99% of people. Many of these apps are amazing too – Beat Saber for example.
How do you know if you’ll get motion sickness or not? The only way to find out is to try a VR headset, but most headsets have refund policies.
2. Lack of Content
Most people who’ve tried VR said it offered “mindblowing” experiences, but thought there wasn’t enough content to justify the price.
While virtual reality offers groundbreaking possibilities in various sectors, there are still arguments against its current mainstream viability, with the lack of content being a primary concern.
Firstly, the volume and diversity of high-quality content for VR remain limited when compared to established platforms. While there’s no shortage of experimental and indie VR titles, there’s a perceived gap in polished, AAA experiences that can rival what’s available on conventional gaming consoles or PC. Moreover, many of the available VR games and experiences tend to be shorter and can be completed within a few hours, leading to concerns about value for money.
Furthermore, while VR movies and social spaces like Bigscreen VR can be captivating, traditional media consumption experiences (movies, series, sports broadcasts, etc.) haven’t shifted to VR en masse. This means users looking to replace their regular screens with VR might find the content library insufficient. The production of VR-specific content is expensive, challenging, and, given the smaller audience base, often doesn’t provide the returns needed to justify such investments for many developers and creators.
In essence, while VR undoubtedly offers unique and unparalleled experiences, some argue that the ecosystem hasn’t matured enough in terms of content.
3. Headset Discomfort
On top of motion sickness, some people reported headset discomfort being a reason why they dislike VR. Some mentioned getting headaches because of the weight of the VR headset and although this is a small minority of people, it’s still something to consider.
I must admit some of the popular VR headsets like the Meta Quest 2 are quite uncomfortable, however, with the right comfort mods, you can alleviate almost all the pressure.
Although VR gaming is great for fitness, some people prefer to just sit at a computer whilst gaming. Using VR is pretty high effort and can sometimes be tiring.
Although stationary experiences exist like watching a movie in VR, most VR games require some physical exertion.
Lastly is the price. Some people think VR is too expensive and isn’t worth it. After all, you aren’t just paying for a VR headset, you also need to buy games and optional things like VR accessories, comfort mods, a powerful computer to run PCVR games and more. These are entirely optional of course, but can enhance the VR experience.
Overall is VR Worth it?
In weighing the pros and cons of VR in 2023, VR is one of the best entertainment and fitness purchases you can make because it offers mindblowing, immersive experiences that can’t be paralleled by any other medium.
The biggest disadvantage of VR is the VR motion sickness, but if you order your headset from Amazon (I recommend a Meta Quest 3), you can get a refund in 30 days if you find out that you’re susceptible to VR sickness. So there’s no harm in trying VR if you’re curious.
Should I Get the Meta Quest 3?
The Meta Quest 3 is the latest generation of the Quest line models, and there’s no doubt it is the number one headset on the market today, offering top notch visuals, mixed reality, tracking and bang for your buck. If you were to buy a VR headset in 2023/2024, the Quest 3 is indeed the best headset to buy.