At the surface level, virtual reality has a very narrow window of potential implementation. In order to succeed in gaming, virtual reality doesn't have to be available in every kind of game, but it has to be possible for most games.
Despite what PR reps for the Oculus Rift and devices of its ilk might tell you, there is a conceptual hurdle for virtual reality games: will it be useful outside of first-person-perspective games?
While games like Lucky's Tale can act as a sort of proof-of-concept for games that use virtual reality outside the realm of first-person games, the question remains "why?" Sure third-person games for virtual reality can be made, but why would they? The appeal of virtual reality is immersion, and that idea in third-person games essentially becomes "get really close to the screen."
This idea of universality in new technology can determine its lasting success. With the virtue of hindsight, we can see that one of the reasons motion control never caught on was because it wasn't available in all or even most games. Restricting this new technology to a limited audience doomed motion control to fail before it ever got started.
More recently, the concept of eye-tracking has gained steam, being hailed as a fundamental change in how we play games. Despite an impressive demo with Assassin's Creed: Rogue it's unclear how eye-tracking will work with couch co-op games.
Basically, if a new technology says, in any capacity, "this will only work with ____ type of games," it's future success is suspect, and virtual reality needs to work out that kink.
The price of new technology can directly influence its success. While the price has to be fair to the developers and the cost of production, it needs to find that middle ground that makes it not too cheap, but affordable for the average gamer.
This is especially true if we're to consider No. 5 on this list. The Oculus Rift, for example, is thought to enter the market at a $300 to $400 asking price. If it's only worth it for a few types of games, this is not going to cut it.
Remember the Kinect? Microsoft's horse in the motion control race was comparably cheap, at $100 extra for its addition to the Xbox One. Even this price was too steep for gamers who saw the Kinect as a unnecessary luxury at best and a useless hunk of plastic at worst. When Microsoft decided to sell the Xbox One without the Kinect for $100 cheaper, this version sold like hot cakes in comparison.
It's a warning sign for superfluous technology in gaming. If gamers feel, for any reason, that they don't need your hardware, they aren't going to pay top dollar for it, and they might not pay for it at all.
Speaking of the Kinect, does anyone remember the developers who invested all their time (and, more importantly, money) into making games for the Kinect only to be left directionless when Microsoft damn near abandoned the product by not including it? That's the same risk developers will run when they make a game for a virtual reality system such as the Oculus Rift.
Why risk developing a game for virtual reality when there is already a plethora of proven platforms with established markets? Not only is virtual reality a tough sell for gamers, it is also a tough sell for developers.
If past technology gimmicks prove at all applicable, virtual reality will at least have short-term success. The Wii's motion controls were all the rage when the system launched, but fizzled out more quickly than soda left open out in the sun.
On the subject of the Wii's motion controls, the question always comes up: why was it so successful? It is really worth pondering. The controls themselves were often unresponsive, and the motions were repetitive, despite the console's desire to have us believe we were performing different acts. There really wasn't much going for them.
Except casual games. The amount of pick-up-and-play casual entertainment available with motion controls was unrivaled, and that caught the attention of people who normally wouldn't be found near a game console.
Right now, virtual reality seems anything but accessible, appealing to hardcore tech enthusiasts and those with iron stomachs. This is not a recipe for success.
Sure this is the most obvious choice, but it's also the most important. If virtual reality had everything else on this list, but still had kinks to work out after the big names launched their hardware, its reputation will be tarnished forever.
This is the very nature of games today - not just gaming technology. It doesn't matter that Sim City and Battlefield 4 have improved since launch.
Even sporadic reports of motion sickness, bug reports or poor optimization can carry far more weight than would be normally expected because everyone will be watching to see how virtual reality fairs in the gaming world.
Facebook knows this, too. After buying the Oculus Rift, the social media giant started monetizing bug reports, offering cash rewards to those who helped make the platform a smoother experience.
So if players get a fairly priced system with a wide variety of games in its library, it will all be for nothing if virtual reality doesn't do its due diligence before being put on the shelves.