"Next time I come home, I'll bring up a VR headset so you can all try it," I bragged to some school friends over drinks recently. "We got my Dad a cheap one for his birthday, he looked mad chasing dinosaurs, it made me feel sick though," came the reply.
For anyone who has played with a Gear VR for any decent amount of time or used a HTC Vive, you'll know that there's trying VR and trying VR. When I think of all my friends who own iPhones or non-Samsung Android phones I panic that their first experience of this born again medium will be frankly, total garbage. (In particular, I'll weep for anyone I encounter who has paid money for the LG 360 VR.)
And it probably will. That's not to say Cardboard isn't a great thing but it was never designed to be Google's all-conquering mobile VR platform. That's Daydream, coming this autumn, with beefed up phones, better apps and quality headsets. I kinda wish that until then we could pause all third party mobile headset/viewer sales and app development. For the good of VR.
Not all mobile VR headsets are terrible and not all Cardboard apps are either. Indeed, many devs are now launching decent apps and games on Cardboard as well as other platforms. But there's nothing like the slick experience, well curated store and superior headset that you get if you happen to own a compatible Samsung Galaxy phone and buy a $99 Gear VR.
Put that piece of tat down
Here are my main worries: lots of people will think VR makes them feel sick when really it's bad VR that makes them feel sick. Others won't be able to see beyond the latency issues and pixellated pictures to what is already possible (but they're much less likely to have tried) with a Rift or Vive. Plus there's the risk of dismissing the whole thing as a gimmick for basic, super short experiences.
Essential reading: The best Google Cardboard apps
It's bloody annoying, but not surprising, that Samsung (and Oculus) have kept the Gear VR compatibility so narrow. It's the perfect intro to virtual reality. Easy enough to get on with. Good enough to get you hooked.
My advice to any Android owners who are less than impressed by mobile VR is to find a friend with a recent Samsung phone, head to one of its stores or wait for Daydream. As for iPhone owners? Pray for a big VR headset-shaped announcement come September.
Do you love your Cardboard headset? What have your first experiences with mobile VR been like? Let us know in the comments.