HTC on why 2016 is the critical year for virtual reality

When HTC parked a truck at San Diego Comic-Con to show off its new virtual reality system, it quickly drew long lines that took curious folks the better part of an afternoon to get through. When Jeff Gattis, head of marketing for HTC’s emerging devices, asked a user about the experience, the response was simple: "It was worth it."
That’s been a common reaction for anyone who has tried the Vive, the virtual reality setup built by partners HTC and Valve, according to Gattis, who shared the anecdote in an interview on Thursday.
HTC will be counting on that wow factor as it pushes an entirely new product from its core business of making smartphones. It isn’t alone. While HTC and Valve, best known for its Steam online gaming platform, have promised to launch the Vive later this year, Facebook’s Oculus and Sony are expected to launch their own virtual reality headsets in 2016. Next year is shaping up to be when the public will get its first real look at this technology.
"The industry needs a successful first year," Gattis said. "Next year is critical."
Gattis isn’t necessarily talking about sales, although he said an industry target of 2 to 3 million units would be a good start. More importantly, virtual reality needs to make a strong first impression with the early target market of video game enthusiasts and early adopters.
The Vive has impressed users in early trials. CNET Editor Scott Stein tried out the headset and called it "amazing." While other virtual reality setups let you move your head to view things around you, the Vive allows you to freely walk around within a (limited) space, further adding to the illusion that you’re somewhere else.
At least early on, the high-end virtual reality experiences such as the Vive and Oculus Rift  will be a pricey proposition. Not only will you have to buy the headset, but a high-end PC powerful enough to handle the visuals as well. Gattis declined to comment on the price of the headset, but said the company would share more details, along with the final product and minimum PC requirements, in October.
There are other practical considerations. The Vive’s setup requires two sensors that are mounted on opposite sides of the room in order to detect the headset’s position. While hardcore gamers are used to buying a large, high-end PC, will consumers will foot the bill for one?
Over time, companies could come out with more compact machines that will be able to power virtual reality systems, Gattis said. HTC, known for the aesthetic appeal of its smartphones, is always conscious of the setup’s looks, he added.