We all know that virtual reality is on the verge of blowing up the tech sector? as the latest and greatest trend, but did you consider what that will mean for the accessories industry? With so many different supportive items needed for such a wide range of VR systems, it’s no wonder the combined revenue of head-mounted displays, VR accessories, and VR content is projected to grow from $108.8 million in 2014 to $21.8 billion worldwide by 2020. There is so much new tech coming to the market that the accessories sector will need to boom even larger just to keep up.
Gaming Hitches a Ride
Before you know it, virtual reality will be a natural part of the gaming industry. Sony is releasing Playstation VR, and they, along with Microsoft, are developing VR-compatible console games for their future Playstation and XBox gaming systems. Soon there will be no difference between traditional gaming and virtual immersion because it’s all going to be happening at the same time.
The market seems to be heading this way with the traditional accessories market falling 3.3% year-to-date in units sold. Revenue numbers are down this year when it comes to controllers (-1.8%) and chargers (-7.2%), but sales continue to rise when it comes to headsets (3.1%), as gamers gravitate toward more immersive online games. In order to keep up, the gaming industry is embracing VR as an extension of themselves.
“I’m pretty sure it will be a more immersive experience and a natural progression into the future of gaming. I know that’s what I thought about when I was a child, that it would be cool to play inside a video game and here we are taking a step in that direction. It’s a whole new world of accessories for us and we can’t wait.”
– Jonathan Rose, business development manager at Lime Distribution
The greatest thing the accessories business has going for it is the amount of technology being introduced to coincide with the VR market. Sure, you need the goggles, but the VR peripheral business is developing haptic gloves, special controllers, and shooters. Then there are prototypes that seem to be ripped directly from the pages of Ready Player One, including backpacks to store high-powered computers to make your experience more mobile, a bike that allows you to pedal while in virtual reality, and even a omni-directional treadmill that allows you to safely immerse yourself in any virtual world.
Even though dozens of different VR platforms are set to launch and grow in the near future, that just means a greater boon for accessory manufacturers world wide. The different segments of the virtual reality industry–mobile VR, platform VR, and gaming VR–will eventually come together, as users will be forced to split their time between various consoles and computers and multi-format accessory sales will rise to fill a need across every platform.
“Mobile VR headsets like our own make the huge wealth of content available on the Play and App stores accessible to anyone with a smartphone. The imminent launch of PlayStation VR will also bring with it a whole host of new officially licensed accessories. I think PC accessory sales will continue to grow exponentially – HTC Vive will run exclusively on Windows, OS and Linux, while Oculus Rift only runs fully on Windows.
– Jon Watts, brand manager at Accessories 4 Technology
The greatest challenge VR faces is getting users to truly feel immersed in their surroundings. This is where the accessories business can help, offering affordable peripherals that enhance the experience. There is a lot of money going into VR right now, making it somewhat risky, but as long as developers can find a practical middle ground between price and capabilities, this should be a lucrative endeavor for everyone involved.