' ); } }) .catch(function(err) { (console.error || console.log)(err); }); }());

VR is in a tailspin, and the sales numbers prove it

NurPhoto/Getty Images

HTC has published a response to our editorial in an official blog post. Check out our take on what the company had to say.

If you watch CNN, you’ve likely witnessed the commercials for its CNN Go streaming app, which introduce the “new” (as of a couple years ago) virtual reality division. The ad shows reactions from people who’ve never tried VR before as they slip on a smartphone-based headset and react to the life-altering moment of experiencing VR for the first time.

The commercial is only a couple years old but, in the accelerated timeline of technology trends, it looks like something out of a 1980s Spielberg flick. It promises a naive and slightly disturbing future, like a World’s Fair exhibit gone wrong.

In truth, consumers are done with VR. Sales numbers, as tracked by Amazon sales rank data at Thinknum, make that crystal clear.

Amazon releases its numbers via API several times a day, to help track how products are selling across its multitudes of product categories. Those sale ranks figures make it clear all the major VR headsets in a tailspin, with no signs they’ll pull out of it.

Sony has pushed virtual reality with its PlayStation VR headset. At first, Sony saw decent sales, and its version bundled with Skryim has been most successful in moving PlayStation VR. In February 2018, that bundle saw a favorable rank of 29 among all video game products. Today, it sits at spot 100. That’s not a total disaster — rank 100 among all video game products isn’t so bad — but it certainly doesn’t indicate the headset is flying off shelves. Gamers are modestly interested, at best.

Taiwan-based HTC launched the Vive headset HTC Vive review in April 2016. At the time, tech experts declared that high-end PC VR had arrived. The $799 HTC Vive, built for relatively high-end PCs, had the entertainment and gaming world scrambling to develop content for the new system, and sales for the system quickly climbed to an impressive top-50 spot despite the higher price tag. Today, though, its sales rank has plummeted.

Korean electronics giant Samsung wasn’t about to be left out of the VR fun. The company took a more mass-consumer approach, launching the smartphone-based Gear VR in 2014. Its most popular unit was a top-10 seller in September of 2016. Today, that device is at the more mediocre 83 spot. Other units from Samsung have straight-up failed to rank in Amazon’s best-seller charts.

In an attempt to get ahead of finicky consumers, Oculus released the all-in-one Oculus Go in October 2017. It originally sold quite well on Amazon, scoring a 7-spot in May 2018. But, as you can see above, it’s failed to maintain sales momentum, and has fallen off the top-100 product lists completely.

Where does VR go from here?

When VR first appeared and I was lucky enough to try early iterations of Project Morpheus, Oculus, and the like, my reaction was much like those of the newbies in the CNN commercial. “This is the future!” I proclaimed to anyone who would listen.

When the PlayStation VR came out, I scrambled to get one into my house. I ate up its games, burning through VR Worlds, goofing off in PSVR Playroom, and encouraging friends and family to give it a spin. They all had the same CNN-esque reaction. “Wow!”

But then, 30 minutes later, they wanted the thing off their heads for a return to reality. Not a single one of my friends or family members went on to buy a VR unit of their own. In fact, not one of them has asked to give the PSVR another try when they come over.

Even hardcore VR enthusiasts rarely use a headset for more than an hour at a time.

I dig VR. VR can bring a paradigm shift. The first time you strap into a VR experience, you’re taken somewhere else. It’s really cool. It’s a lot like seeing a 3D movie for the first time.

But then what?

Today’s VR headsets don’t answer that question. After the initial shock wears off they offer too little content, are too confusing to use, and leave too many users dealing with motion sickness or other VR-related ailments. Even hardcore VR enthusiasts rarely use a headset for more than an hour at a time.

There’s still many questions for Oculus, HTC, and Samsung to answer, and you shouldn’t expect to see VR sales return to their initial strength unless these companies can build new headsets that are far better than their predecessors — and sell them at a reasonable price.

Computing

These gloves will make virtual reality feel even more immersive

Scientists from EPFL and ETH Zurich have come up with a thin and light VR glove which makes it so that a touch of an object in the virtual world equates to the physical touch you would expect in real life.
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift and HTC Vive head to head: Prices are lower, but our favorite remains the same

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual-reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.
Gaming

Monsters you get in ‘Pokémon: Let’s Go’ can be transferred to the next main RPG

Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eeevee! monsters will be able to be transferred to the next main Pokémon RPG on Switch, according to game director Junichi Masuda.
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best wireless earbuds around.
Computing

Will Apple introduce a new MacBook at its Oct. 30 event? Here's everything we know

Whether it's called the MacBook Air or just the MacBook, Apple is highly rumored to introduce a new, affordable laptop in 2018. We discuss reports about upgrading displays, processors, sign-in features, and more.
Computing

Apple CEO demands Bloomberg retract its Chinese surveillance story

Apple CEO Tim Cook is calling on Bloomberg to retract a story alleging that Apple had purchased compromised servers that allowed the Chinese government to spy on Apple. Apple's investigation found no truth to the story.
Product Review

Dell’s G3 Gaming laptop knows what gamers want, and what they can live without

Compromise and budget gaming laptops go hand-in-hand, but with the G3, Dell has figured out how to balance what gamers want with what they can live without.
Product Review

Amid a new fleet of budget laptops, the ZenBook 13 sails where others sink

It’s never been truer that you don’t need to spend over a thousand bucks to buy a good laptop. The ZenBook 13 takes we’ve always loved about its predecessor and makes enough small refinements to keep it ahead of its competitors.
Computing

Protect your digital identity with these four easy steps to online anonymity

You don't have to be a secret agent or a notorious hacktivist to care about anonymity. Consult this guide to learn tips, tricks, and best practices for staying anonymous and keeping your online activity private
Computing

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.
Computing

How does Samsung's new 2-in-1 stack up against the tried-and-true Surface Pro 6?

We're the stacking Surface Pro 6 and Galaxy Book 2 up against each other in this head-to-head. Both of these devices share a similar form factor and design, but be it LTE connectivity or difference in pricing, each offers up its own pros…
Social Media

How to turn off Safe Mode in Tumblr

If you've joined Tumblr after hearing tales about the social network's more adult communities, you may be disappointed by how family-friendly it seems. Here's how to turn off "Safe Search" in Tumblr and delve into the site's seedy…
Product Review

Samsung CHG90 Ultrawide gaming monitor review

Samsung has taken "ultrawide" to its new limit with its 49-inch gaming monitor, the CHG90. With a 144Hz refresh rate and ungodly amounts of screen real estate, it just might be the most impressive gaming monitor ever made.
Computing

Choose your weapon wisely -- these are the best keyboards for gaming on your PC

Your PC isn't complete without one of the best gaming keyboards on the planet. We have a list spanning full-sized models to compact versions from Razer, Cooler Master, Corsair, Logitech G, and more.