John Carmack Laments Current VR Landscape, Says Developers Are ‘Coasting On Novelty'

Virtual reality and augmented reality have invoked some mixed reactions from the tech industry. Some, such as Apple CEO Tim Cook, believe that the AR will “happen in a big way”. Oculus’ Chief Technology Officer John Carmack, however, argues that VR is merely “coasting on novelty”.

Oculus’ CTO spoke last week at the closing of Oculus Connect. He insisted that VR developers, "need to be harder on ourselves." He also argued that VR software currently does not offer the same value and quality as non-VR experiences.
john carmack
John Carmack

Carmack remarked, “We are coasting on novelty, and the initial wonder of being something people have never seen before. But we need to start judging ourselves. Not on a curve, but in an absolute sense. Can you do something in VR that has the same value, or more value, than what these other [non-VR] things have done?”

Oculus' CTO suggested that there be “objective measurements of quality” for VR products. He also insisted that there needed to be improved UI design and more development for voice control in VR apps.

Carmack was particularly concerned about load times. Many developers are currently working on load times of less than 29 seconds, however, Carmack argued that this time should be reduced to less than twenty seconds. He noted, “There are apps that I wanted to play, that I thought looked great, that I stopped playing because they had too long of a load time.”

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Carmack’s speech was not entirely doom and gloom. He stated that mobile VR is the future of the medium. He was particularly optimistic about the effects of VR on PC, insisting that it would become "the creative class" and a "laboratory" where ideas are formed.

Ultimately, Carmack is fearful that developers will not create “great” products because they are producing “new” products. He concluded that novelty is misguided; "It's not just that it hurts your performance, or the visual quality isn't as good; it's actually the wrong thing to do.”