The Wall Street Journal recently published this Gear VR review entitled, “Samsung Gear VR Review: A Shallow Dip Into the Virtual Pool“.
The post today is to see if the review is fair.
I love my Gear VR and think it’s incredible technology for this early state of the VR revolution. And after seeing the disparaging WSJ article title, I was ready to jump in and rip the review apart.
However, it’s hard to be too mad when it includes lines such as:
The experience itself is awesome.
It’s more immersive than anything you can do with a couch and TV
As wowing as Gear VR is
Media exposure from a heavy-hitter like the WSJ is always a good thing. And the review did a good job of covering the basics of Gear VR for a wide non-technical audience.
But I have a lot of experience now with the Gear VR; likely much more than the reviewer. And some things stuck out to me.
The article says, “You can play a handful of short, simplistic games reminiscent of what you’d play on a smartphone“. I would say this is half-true.
Yes, on the one hand, there is not yet a lot of content available, certainly when compared to mature ecosystems such as the Apple App Store. And such content necessarily is limited by the smartphone technology it’s running on.
On the other hand, they are VR experiences which are nothing like non-VR experiences. It’s
like comparing hand-drawn pictures with television: they are different mediums. A game like Darknet could be rendered on a non-VR smartphone app, but the experience of flying around the 360 degree immersive Tron-Techno style world playing the game cannot be matched.
And it would be a disservice if I didn’t mention Herobound here. IT IS AMAZING. Herobound is a game developed in house by Oculus. With a 3rd party view, you control a scrappy but adorable furry little guy as he goes through dungeons. It has a Zelda-esque feel. Each new room your character goes to teleports you to a mesmerizing new environment. And when you are taking too long, your character will look straight at you, as if to say “What’s next?”.
It was a wonderful experience that I wanted to come back for more and more. It took me about 3 hours to get through the game. That is quite a lot of strong content.
Which brings me to a statement in the article which I strongly disagree with. Regarding how long it takes to experience all the content, it says, “you can do all of this in the course of an hour or two.”
I had heard such statements before getting the Gear VR myself. So when I first checked out all the content in the Oculus Store, I was pleasantly surprised. I felt like I could be playing with new VR content for weeks! And as it turns out, that’s true. I have spent many hours trying out the content, and I still haven’t tried everything. Further, there is new content released continuously.
This isn’t to say there is enough content. This is year 0 for consumer VR and when you start at 0, there is obviously not much. Oculus and Samsung are well aware of this, and I expect in the next few years, we will see such a selection of VR content that one could experience VR for as long as one wants.
So, to finish this review of a review, I’d say the WSJ did a pretty good job, but they should spend more time playing with the Gear VR.