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Cliff Bleszinski Talks About VR’s ‘Killer App’ Problem

Cliffy B on the obstacles posed by the unwillingness of companies to take risks with VR.

Cliff Bleszinski, AKA Cliffy B, is one of the videogame industry’s celebrity figures, with a career covering over two decades and having worked on high-profile titles such as the Gears of War series and Unreal Tournament. Bleszinski has more recently set up his own indie development studio, and was one of the industry figures to appear in the Oculus Rift Kickstarter video. What does he think of the current state of the virtual reality (VR) industry?

It was noted by many analysts that the level of attention given towards VR at this year’s E3 was significantly more subdued that previous years. Despite being one of modern VR’s early believers, Bleszinski says his enthusiasm has dimmed somewhat. Speaking to TechRadar, Bleszinski outlined some of the reasons why: “I’m starting to get over it,” he said, “There’s this chicken and egg that’s happening with VR where platform holders aren’t eating the cost,” he explains.

Some critics have said that VR is still waiting for the industry-defining ‘killer app’ that will draw VR into the mainstream. Bleszinski believes that the disinclination of major platform holders to take significant risks is part of this: “A game like Uncharted is not really feasible to be profitable. It’s because Sony owns Naughty Dog and they’re willing to pump an infinite amount of money into that to sell PlayStations to sell their other games. It’s called a loss-leader. So Facebook and Valve, HTC, and all the platform holders, they need to cough up money to get real games.”

This risk-averse behaviour could be one of the reasons why PlayStation VR was the most prominent VR platform showcased at E3 this year. Bleszinski thinks that until this trend is overcome, VR will remain the domain of wealthy early adopters and location-based entertainment: “It’ll be location-based entertainment, or the rich friend who has it at their house for the foreseeable future. The irony, speaking of the rich friend, is that they normally live in New York, Tokyo or Los Angeles, aka places that can’t afford the real estate to have a room-based VR. So they’ve created their own ultimate Catch 22 for that.”

VRFocus will continue to report on VR and AR related stories as they develop.

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