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Unity CEO: ‘VR will be mainstream’ by 2020

Virtual reality (VR) may have gained a lot of ground this year with multiple headset launches, more developers and companies getting involved, and brands utilising VR as a new means of promotion, but it’s still a long way off being called mainstream. There are numerous predictions on when and if this may happen, estimating unit sales or how much the market will be worth in 2/5/10 years time. One person who estimates this may not be too far away is John Riccitiello, the CEO of videogame development platform Unity.

Unity - John Riccitiello

Riccitiello recently held a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), in which he talked about the future of VR and where he thinks the industry is headed. In response to one post he commented: “I think VR will be mainstream — meaning 100m consumers using the tech regularly — by 2020. And, i believe that within 10 years we will see > 1B consumers globally using VR apps.”

“I am a huge believer, long term, in AR / VR. When I put on an AR or VR device and try something great (like Unity’s Editor VR) i am so convinced that the future for these types of platforms will be HUGE. But, i think it is going to take a few years for these platforms to reach audiences of 10’s or 100’s of millions like today’s game consoles, or even billions like mobile does today. Net — 2017 will be a growth year, but likely not explosive growth. Watch for big / massive games in 3 to 5 years.”

Videogames have been the driving force behind VR but the industry is rapidly expanding into many other avenues including industrial, medical and educational verticals. While entertainment will play a big part Riccitiello sees the non-gaming apps growing quickly. “I’d guess non-game ends up bigger than games for the total world of VR. Initially, gaming is more than 2/3 but i think over time non game apps will grow more rapidly,” he adds.

Over the last few weeks Unity has been busy releasing more updates and betas. Unity 5.5 got released at the end of November, then Unity 5.6 beta appeared last week along with an experimental build of EditorVR.

VRFocus will continue its coverage of Unity, reporting back with any further announcements.