Walmart Takes A Big Leap Into VR

Any time Walmart makes a move, people take notice. Walmart announced today that they’re making a big move into the VR space by shipping out 17,000 Oculus Go HMDs to its 5,000 store locations. The reason they’re making this move is for employee training purposes. Each Supercenter will receive four HMDs and each Neighborhood Market will get two HMDs.

I have mixed feelings on this. I like this because it’s a great way for people and companies to more and more take VR seriously. If a company like Walmart thinks that VR is good enough to buy this much of it for training their employees, then they start to rethink their negative opinion on VR if they think it’s not the future. One other good thing is that this will be a massive boost to Facebook/Oculus’ pockets. Yeah… maybe they don’t really need it since they’re Facebook, but still, it’s money that will hopefully be injected straight into R&D or funding for additional titles.

On the negative side, it’s the Oculus Go, which is a PC-less HMD that doesn’t have full 6 DoF (Degrees of Freedom) tracking, which is what’s required for room-scale VR. For Digital Worlds, one of my barriers to success will be informing people that the Virtual Reality offered at DWVR is more advanced than the kinds of VR that you get from 3DoF experiences from smart phone based VR like the GearVR/Google Daydream or the cheap headsets you can buy from Walmart and other retailers. Millions of people have and will experience VR for the first time through these kinds of HMDs and it’s just not as great as room-scale VR on something like a Vive, Vive Pro, or Oculus that is connected to a powerful PC and with a whole room to move around in with tracked controllers and sensors. Call me a purist, but I don’t want to be restricted in my VR.