Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Magic Leap: A Long Way From Real Money

Now that Magic Leap has finally been unveiled, and had a convention to promote its launch, people have had a chance to use their Mixed Reality device and see a variety of apps that are available or in the works. So far the response has been that some people are excited about the future, and some less so… but right now, the product really doesn’t look like something that will sell millions of units and transform society.

Let’s start with the price tag: $2,295 for a pair of goggles that connect to a box you wear on your belt. The field of vision is small (the same complaint held out against Microsoft’s Holovision goggles. The images are not great, especially when you move around and things get chopped up or look low res. Text is blurry and white screens look harsh, so look at standard desktop apps is not easy. This review by Brian Merchant lays out a number of the problems.

It’s clear that there’s no immediate, obvious use that’s going to drive sales of a device that costs $2,295 and has plenty of limitations. Ah, but in the future… there’s plenty of interesting visions put forth with lots of hand-waving. Some of them may even come to pass. But between here and there lie many years of improving the hardware, figuring out useful software, and hoping that hardware and software companies can keep going until the time comes for a robust, profitable market. That may be the hardest point of all to reach.

To me, this feels much like Virtual Reality (VR) which underwent a flurry of excitement for a couple of years, then fell back into the steady grind of improvement and search for a killer app or three to boost sales. The VR hardware is getting better and less expensive, but we still don’t have an app that’s going to generate a billion dollars in revenue in a year. Nothing that even looks like that, either – such an app would have people spending hundreds of hours with it, or at least dozens, and there’s nothing on VR like that.

While Magic Leap works on improving their hardware and getting developers to create apps, other companies like Apple and Google are working towards AR/XR hardware. Who’ll find a market first? I don’t know, but ultimately being first isn’t critical. It’s being able to exploit the market with the right hardware, software, and business model. Apple’s iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player, but they found the right combination of features at the right price point to sell hundreds of millions.

Now, I do think VR/AR/XR has a future – maybe even one that might surpass smartphones eventually. But someone will have to come up with some killer uses for the right hardware that doesn’t cost too much – and I think we’re some years away from that point.

Now, if you could show me a way to play Fortnite on Magic Leap that would give you a big advantage over other players – or be a lot more fun – then you’d have something that would sell hardware, even at $2,295 each. Good luck with that…