Virtual reality has been the cause of both hypes and disappointments, whether in the past or recently. This is partly due to speculations around the technology and due to the fact that it is often paired with augmented reality. These elements lead consequently to overstated predictions. For example, in 2014, Xerfi predicted a virtual and augmented reality market value of 150 billion $ in 2020. No recent prediction reaches such a value and the most optimistic estimations go up to a maximum of 120 billion $, mainly dragged by speculations around augmented reality that account for close to 90 billion $.


Beyond those trends the more specific evolutions of the virtual reality market and its estimates share a more tempered perspective on the topic. Statistics and estimations show a growth of the market and predict a bright, yet credible, future to virtual reality.

SuperData Research, specialized in virtual reality market intelligence, stated past February 2017 that the virtual reality market was worth 1.8 billion $ in 2016. It is interesting to add that most estimates for the year at the start of 2016 fluctuated between 1 and 4 billion $ worth.

Predictions for 2018 vary between a global market value in between 9 billion $ and 13.6 billion $. Quite an expected growth already there as the market value is at least predicted to be multiplied by 5 (based on the SuperData Research estimate for 2016).

That’s not all, in 2020 the numbers rise up to an encouraging market value of 37.7 billion $ worldwide. Keep in mind this only includes virtual reality, and not augmented reality that is expected to boom as of 2018.

Predicted virtual reality market value in billion $

Predicted virtual reality market value in billion $

Going more into the specifics of the market, nowadays the virtual reality market value is dominated by hardware, most market studies analyzing 2016 show a value between 14% and 18% of the total market value being generated by software. However, the tendency appears to be a rise of software in the market, thus increasing its share in such a way that by 2020 the balance is completely overthrown and VR software becomes the dominating value generating factor.

VR Market value balance in 2020

Market value balance in 2020

Broadening the perspective of the market, a study linked the future evolution of the VR and AR market to past tendencies regarding shipment of computers. Indeed, computers did represent a substantial investment initially and were as such mainly purchased for professional use, which is exactly the observation done for VR and AR nowadays.


Computer shipments


Furthermore, computers changed the way people worked and greatly contributed to an increase in productivity. Here again, VR and AR lead to a great increase in productivity as it has been outlined previously.

While it would not make sense to strictly apply the growth model of computers to VR and AR, it is a credible hypothesis to expect very similar tendencies in its life cycle and evolutions.

Skimming out the overhyped predictions and gathering a great share of perspectives on the topic outlined a bright and credible future for virtual reality. Professionals have to catch this future as it appears that the wind is blowing in the right direction. It is also of importance to acknowledge the upcoming landscape as the market will be leaning towards software as soon as hardware reaches its critical mass, which is expected to be by 2018/2019.


Sources: Deloitte, Statista, Tractica, Digi-capital, Research and Markets, SuperData Research, Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research