February 2 Apple Vision Pro – The Day Spacial Computing Breaks VR Gamer Wallets

By Todd Russell Feb1,2024

Tomorrow is the day Apple makes their virtual reality dreams come true. Or so they hope.

Have dabbled with VR here and there, and usually fascinated by the tech and gaming, but mostly it just makes me physically uncomfortable. The Apple Vision Pro (https://www.apple.com/shop/buy-vision/apple-vision-pro), starting priced at $3,500 USD (ok, $3,499 lol, but the 1TB model costs $3,899) makes my wallet have motion sickness.

But it sure does seem pretty cool!

One of the games that will be available through Apple Arcade (as part of $6/month subscription) will be Super Fruit Ninja and there’s no arguing how fun that game looks: swipe and cut melons and other fruit in mid-air anywhere in the real world where real physical objects won’t get in the way.

Recently, we played Fruit Ninja at the arcade on a touch screen and it’s a blash cutting down that fruit. It’s the perfect type of game to fit this genre of “spatial games” that may or may not make some kind of splash.

This system is just way too expensive for most gamers unless you’re a friend or relative of the late Steve Jobs or light cigars with $100 bills, but I won’t lie: if I had thousands of dollars in the mattress waiting to spend on gaming, I’d be there tomorrow, checking this out.

Preorder Apple FOMO seemed to have been in full force — or more cynically, scalpers are buying up the stock — selling out according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo:

Apple has likely sold somewhere between 160,000 and 180,000 headsets over the entire pre-order weekend. That’s considerably above an earlier prediction of between 60,000 and 80,000 units.

Apple Vision Pro sold out over pre-order weekend despite $3,500 price tag | Tom’s Guide (tomsguide.com)

Again, these “sales” might be to scalpers, as another article is suggesting:

All-in-one bots are able to complete the entire purchase process without manual intervention.

Kasada says that once pre-orders opened, it monitored bot activity to determine that they were successfully used to complete thousands of purchases. Just one of them was used to successfully check out 1,592 Vision Pro pre-orders.

Vision Pro scalpers used bots to place thousands of pre-orders (9to5mac.com)

Scalper bots are ruining too many game device new sales.

There’s more than the price tag and scalper sales muddying the waters. Some key developers are not interested in the Apple Vision Pro either:

The timing of the Vision Pro launch doesn’t help, coming at a particularly sensitive time for Apple and its developers. Software makers have fumed for years about App Store policies, and Apple’s new approach to letting developers process payments outside their apps — but still pay Apple a commission of as much as 27% — isn’t sitting well with some.

Apple Vision Pro: Lack of Netflix, YouTube, App Store Tensions Threaten Device – Bloomberg

So, unless something changes, no apps for YouTube, Netflix or Spotify on this device. Take off the fancy goggles, watch YouTube and Netflix on your phone or TV and listen to Spotify in the 10 different ways you probably already can. This might seem like a big deal, but these apps are not the reason gamers would likely want to play on this device.

Alas, I’ll sit on the sidelines and see what others that have this month completely disposable income to spend on this device. If I were a betting on the success of this device, I’d give it about 5% chance, at best, however when the cost of the technology it offers comes down to more regular gamer prices, who knows. I think the Meta Quest 3 is probably closer to a price point that can realistically enjoy some success, but VR remains very niche not just for cost reasons: gamers don’t really want to put stuff on their heads and play like this en masse.

Sure, there are edge case gamers that do enjoy playing games like this. I’d probably be one of them, if not for physical limitations (my eyes suck), but there are too many people that get physical discomfort from VR. When the tech becomes less invasive, perhaps something that doesn’t require strapping something to our heads, who knows?

Anybody reading that’s buying or already ordered the Apple Vision Pro?

UPDATE 2/2/2024 @ 6:25am PST: With the launch, have seen various articles, including reviews from people using the Apple Vision Pro. In this one, from Techcrunch, the user describes on day #2 nausea.

“For now, however, the Vision Pro is making me question how comfortable I am in a future where “screen time” largely involves having them strapped to my face. The effect is undeniably intriguing, pointing to some incredibly innovative applications in the near future (I’m sure we’ll see a number of these among the initial 600 apps).”

Apple Vision Pro: Day Two | TechCrunch

I don’t know how many folks can/will suffer from technology like this … but it’s too common a thing to read/hear about and not realize that widespread adoption of this type of tech has major physical drawbacks. People don’t get sick playing with any other type of controller.

Epileptics can get seizures from TV images, so that’s about the closed thing I can think of that compares to VR/AR goggles. This has caused the warnings we’ve seen for years.

To offer a more optimistic viewpoint, via Why Tim Cook Is Going All In on the Apple Vision Pro | Vanity Fair – James Cameron and Jon Favreau, both famed directors, see this for how it opens up possibilities for the future of filmmaking, but will they use this as regularly as a computer? Will they replace their computer and TV time using this instead? That’s the real question and only time will tell when/if enough people use this device.

UPDATE 2/3/2024 @ 6:42pm PST: Early reviews from owners continue to roll in. I’d say overall early reviews are some gushing about the tech, most neutral on the experience, at best and, at worst, stuff like this:

Augmented reality is supposed to increase your sense of place compared with VR, but I’ve tried the older, lower-resolution options—the Meta Quest, the HTC Vive—and the Apple Vision Pro made me feel even more decoupled from the world

The Apple Vision Pro Is Spectacular and Sad – The Atlantic

UPDATE 2/9/2024 @ 6:52am PST: The New York Times has reviewed the Apple Vision Pro.

There are some positive article reviews as well, like this one: Apple Vision Pro will make a trillion dollars (sfgate.com).

UPDATE 2/16/2024 @ 9:37am PST: Apple makes quite a declaration on their new “spatial games”:

“This is just the beginning of a new era in gaming, with players being fully immersed in stunning game worlds and interacting with games in their physical environment in amazing new ways,” said Alex Rofman, Apple’s senior director of Apple Arcade. “We’re leading the way in offering players unique spatial games on Apple Arcade that are only possible on Apple Vision Pro, and we’re excited to bring even more magical spatial gaming experiences to our customers soon.”

Apple Arcade takes players into a new dimension with spatial gaming – Apple

UPDATE 2/27/2024 @ 9:20am PST: ARS Technica shares breakdown cost for all the components – Apple Vision Pro’s components cost $1,542—but that’s not the full story | Ars Technica

UPDATE 3/3/2024 @ 10:38am PST: “Mysterious cracks” are starting to form down/near the center of some Apple Vision Pros. Yikes. See: Vision Pro owners are reporting a mysterious crack in the front glass – The Verge. I asked PGM member how his Apple Vision Pro was doing, see the interview I conducted with him here: Apple Vision Pro Owner INTERVIEW: “Definitely Wouldn’t Recommend for Gamers” says PGM Member Mike DG and awaiting his response.

Sure he would have said something if a crack had formed in his.

UPDATE 4/26/2024 @ 11:45am PST: Apple is cutting production in half of the 800,000 Vision Pros it was planning to make in 2024 and there might not even be an update in 2025?! If accurate, this is earlier than expected adjustment from sales of a (too!) expensive niche device.

That suggests demand in the US has been much lower than expected. What’s more, Kuo says the poor performance of the Vision Pro could mean that a planned update to the headset in 2025 may be cancelled.

Apple reportedly slashes Vision Pro headset production and cancels updated headset as sales tank in the US | PC Gamer
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