Survey: 77% of VR users want more social engagement

[The headline is just one of the interesting results in this story from Forbes, where the original includes more charts. –Matthew]

VR Needs More Social: 77% of Virtual Reality Users Want More Social Engagement

John Koetsier
April 30, 2018

77% of people who use virtual reality want more social engagement in VR, according to a new survey of 4,217 consumers. And while many of their headsets don’t get regular use, most intend to use their VR headsets more in the future.

“Led by Generation Z and Millennials, 77% of respondents who own a VR headset say they are interested in interacting socially with other people in VR,” says Greenlight Insights, which ran the survey. “Playing games, watching videos and video communications ranked highest as social VR activities of interest.”

That’s interesting, because VR can clearly be an isolating technology.

Your head is encased in a quasi-helmet, for one thing, and your vision is restricted to what the screen inches from your eyes can show. Adding social components to VR has major potential to mitigate this.

And, perhaps, to fix the clear usage issue in VR.

Only 28% of people who own VR sets use them daily. 39% say they use their VR sets at least every week, but 19% say it’s about once a month. (That sounds about right for me: I don’t break out the PSVR much more often.)

More concerning?

8% of people only use their thousand-dollar VR sets once every six months, and 6% use it about once a year. That compares poorly to other technology like smartphones, computers, and TVs, which typically get used multiple times each day.

Part of the problem: VR sets are complicated, with multiple wires, controllers, and time-consuming set-up and adjustment. It’s not easy to just pick it up and play. Still, that could be getting better with Facebook’s coming new Oculus Go, an easy buy at $199, and entirely self-contained.

Familiarity is improving, and in the future, people expect to use their headsets more, with 38% saying they’ll use their VR sets “a lot more,” and 32% saying “a little more.”

Even hardcore gamers, who use their VR sets for more than three hours of gaming each week say they’ll use them more in the future.

And more familiarity can’t hurt.

Familiarity with VR continues to rise, hitting 78% of Americans.

“The high rate of reported familiarity may be the result of the extent that VR has been in the news recently,” Greenlight says, citing movies like Ready Player One, and major sporting events such as the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics, both of which were partially viewable in VR.

Google has entered the VR space with the relatively cheap Google Daydream product which uses your Android phone as its screen. Interestingly, the company also announced today that it would be partnering with NBC to match top shows with VR versions.

Apple, which has previously signaled much more interest in augmented reality than virtual reality, may also be building a VR set, for release in 2020, that reportedly has a very ambitious 8K display for each eye.

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