Metaverse off to ominous begin after VR headset gross sales shrank in 2022

Metaverse off to ominous begin after VR headset gross sales shrank in 2022

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg demonstrates an Oculus Rift digital actuality (VR) headset and Oculus Contact controllers throughout the Oculus Join 3 occasion in San Jose, California, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Photographs

Over a yr after altering his firm’s title to Meta and committing to spend billions of {dollars} growing the metaverse, Mark Zuckerberg’s guess on digital actuality is not any nearer to paying off.

Gross sales of VR headsets within the U.S. this yr declined 2% from a yr earlier to $1.1 billion as of early December, based on knowledge shared with CNBC by analysis agency NPD Group. Fb’s promoting enterprise generates that a lot income about each three days.

With the advert enterprise mired in a stoop, Zuckerberg has been trying to VR gadgets and associated know-how to drag Meta into the longer term. However knowledge from analyst agency CCS Perception reveals that worldwide shipments of VR headsets in addition to augmented actuality gadgets dropped greater than 12% yr over yr to 9.6 million in 2022.

Taken collectively, the estimates of VR headset gross sales and shipments create a problematic image for Meta, whose inventory worth has misplaced about two-thirds of its worth this yr. Zuckerberg has mentioned he is enjoying the lengthy recreation with the metaverse, anticipating it take as much as a decade to go mainstream and projecting it would finally host lots of of billions of {dollars} in commerce.

It is not simply Meta. Quite a few enterprise companies and different tech firms have wagered huge over the previous decade on a futuristic world of digital work, training, health and sports activities.

Meta’s Quest 2 headset, launched in 2020, is by far the chief within the VR market, based on a number of analysts. Competing gadgets from firms like Valve, HP and Sony signify a small fraction of the market.

Gross sales of Meta’s flagship Quest system dropped in 2022, a decline that may be attributed to the system’s huge yr in 2021, mentioned Ben Arnold, NPD’s client electronics analyst.

“VR had an incredible vacation in 2021,” Arnold mentioned, referring to varied promotions that helped increase gross sales of the gadgets at a time when gaming consoles like Sony’s PlayStation 5 had been in brief provide. “It was a good time final yr to get one in every of these merchandise, and VR completely crushed it.”

VR headset income within the U.S. doubled in 2021 from about $530 million in 2020, based on NPD.

A confluence of things contributed to decrease gross sales and shipments in 2022.

Metaverse off to ominous begin after VR headset gross sales shrank in 2022

The Quest 2 has been round for a couple of years and, like every client electronics system, has misplaced some enchantment because it’s aged. And whereas Meta launched a brand new VR headset in fall, the Quest Professional, that system is geared towards companies and prices $1,100 greater than the Quest 2, pushing it even additional out of attain for a lot of VR fans.

Meta determined over the summer season to boost the value of the Quest 2 by $100, citing inflationary pressures.

Leo Gebbie, an analyst at CCS Perception, mentioned in an e mail that Meta’s worth improve was a shock “on condition that the corporate has been keen to promote the headset at such a low margin to try to drive uptake of VR and achieve a excessive market share.”

Meta declined to remark about its VR headset gross sales or third-party estimates.

All eyes on Apple

Subsequent yr is anticipated to be one other “sluggish yr” for the VR market, CCS Perception mentioned in its newest report, citing a weak financial system and inflation.

Gebbie mentioned “client budgets shall be tightening,” and “non-essential purchases like VR headsets are more likely to be the casualty of this.”

Sony’s next-generation VR headset will value $550 when it debuts in February. Arnold mentioned that whereas the PlayStation VR2 will “give the market sort of a shot within the arm,” it would doubtless not affect the general VR market as a lot because the Quest 2 as a result of Sony’s system requires house owners to have a PlayStation 5 as option to energy the headset.

Sony PlayStation VR2 headset


“The entire addressable market of the PSVR2 goes to be PlayStation house owners,” Arnold mentioned.

A serious query for subsequent yr stays whether or not Apple, as lengthy rumored, will unveil a VR headset.

Apple may create a compelling VR headset with an accompanying software program ecosystem, Arnold mentioned.

Moreover, Apple’s fame as a frontrunner in client know-how may present a spark to the dim VR market, making the know-how extra enticing to most people.

“If one firm has the power to rework the VR market in a single day, it is Apple,” mentioned Gebbie. “With its massively loyal fanbase, a lot of whom are comfy with spending massive quantities of cash on know-how, if Apple was to launch a headset we count on that it might carry out very nicely.”

Apple is reportedly constructing a VR headset with AR options for a launch as quickly as 2023.

Eric Abbruzzese, a analysis director at ABI Analysis, mentioned Apple may have success launching a VR headset geared towards companies, which might doubtless assist lure builders to the group. However the excessive worth of an enterprise VR headset, which might doubtless retail for a number of thousand {dollars}, would nonetheless make it troublesome for Apple to maneuver the needle, Abbruzzese mentioned.

“It most likely will not even ship 5 million models in its first yr,” Abbruzzese mentioned of an Apple enterprise VR headset. “However it’s the first notable product from an enormous tech incumbent.”

Apple did not reply to a request for remark.

One main factor the VR world lacks is a breakout hit, or a killer app.

Some video games have gotten traction, just like the musical rhythm recreation Beat Saber and VR variations of in style titles like Resident Evil, Abbruzzese mentioned. And a few customers are displaying extra curiosity in utilizing VR for health actions.

However within the console market, blockbuster video games like FIFA and Name of Obligation are “transport lots of of tens of millions of merchandise,” he mentioned.

In the meantime Meta’s Horizon Worlds social VR platform remains to be in its experimental section.

“The one metaverse product actually is Horizon and it isn’t good proper now,” Abbruzzese mentioned.

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