Bottom line: Modern virtual reality was expected to be the next big thing in gaming and computing yet to this point, it has largely disappointed. Hardware has improved, prices have come down and software has gotten better but still, something seems to be missing.
In a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, movie company IMAX announced its exit from the virtual reality industry.
Following a strategic review of its virtual reality pilot initiative, IMAX said it has decided to close its remaining VR arcade locations and write off certain VR content investments. According to Variety, the company recently closed four VR arcades but still operates locations in Los Angeles, Toronto and Bangkok. Those will but shut down in the first quarter of 2019, a company spokesperson said.
IMAX managed to raise $50 million in 2016 to explore a possible expansion into the budding world of virtual reality. Much like the early days of video games, IMAX hoped the arcade model would expose consumers to the cutting-edge technology without the burden of having to buy expensive hardware.
Unfortunately, interest around virtual reality as a whole has waned. Compelling solutions exist but consumers aren’t exactly breaking down doors to get them. Many see the current state of VR as a novelty – something that’s fun to try occasionally but not a gateway to the future that others hoped it might be.
There’s a death knell off in the distance and it’s slowly getting louder.