Oculus: VR Motion Sickness a "Real Issue," But Not as Bad as We Thought

John Carmack talks competition with SteamVR and what it will take to get to a billion VR devices.


Today at the Game Developers Conference, Oculus VR's John Carmack talked about the challenges and opportunities for virtual reality on mobile devices. Carmack is Oculus VR's Chief Technical Officer, and is leading the company's efforts in the mobile space.

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First, he addressed the issue of motion sickness, which has been frequently cited as a potential limitation for VR's mainstream success. Carmack acknowledged that motion sickness is a "real issue," noting that he's been surprised that no one has uploaded videos to YouTube of people using an Oculus headset and then throwing up.

At the same time, however, Carmack said Oculus actually anticipated more problems with motion sickness than currently exist. "It's a real issue. But it's maybe not as big of an issue as we were afraid of," he said about motion sickness.

Also during the presentation, Carmack reiterated that Oculus foresees a day when virtual reality reaches a billion or more people. This won't happen if VR is limited to PC or console, Carmack said, explaining that mobile-powered VR is how this dream can come true.

"I honestly do see a world with a billion people using virtual reality headsets," he said, adding that "there's no way that a PC peripheral or a game console" is how VR becomes ubiquitous. Mobile-powered VR is the answer, he said.

VR will have "lots of different applications," Carmack went on to say. Though his roots may be in gaming and much of what we've seen today so far from VR has had a gaming focus, Carmack said he thinks VR will end up impacting far more industries than just games.

"VR is bigger than gaming," he said.

Carmack also responded to Valve's recent announcement of its own virtual reality headset, the Vive, which the Half-Life company is building with technology giant HTC. "Valve has obviously done a great job with Steam," Carmack said. "We have our work cut out for us" to show to people why Oculus is the best platform, he added.

Carmack also touched on Microsoft's newly announced HoloLens augmented reality technology, saying he doesn't view it as a direct competitor.

Finally, Carmack announced today that Samsung and Oculus will be making a major push for Gear VR later this year this year. While he didn't make a specific pricing announcement or reveal any exact dates, Carmack said mobile VR fans can expect the next iteration of the Gear VR headset--one designed for consumers, not just developers--to launch later this year.

You can watch a replay of Carmack's talk right here on GameSpot later today.

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