VR Hits The “Trough of Disillusionment”

The “Trough of Disillusionment” is an actual term used by entrepreneurs… So what does this “Trough of Disillusionment” mean? and is Virtual Reality in it? And lastly is it a bad thing?

The Trough of Disillusionment

The term was introduced by Gartner, an IT research and advisory firm. It is a part of their so called “Hype Cycle“, which is basically a model to explain how Hype works for new technologies.

The Trough of Disillusionment is only phase two in the hype cycle, and it comes just after the huge Hype Spike (this one is mine) that follows any new tech presentation.

This model simply attempts to describe what usually happens… As it goes the first step is introducing a new tech. In this case we are talking about Virtual Reality.

Showcasing Virtual Reality caused consumers to dream about the amazing possibilities of this new medium, especially in gaming where we dream of being transported inside the game with hyper immersive VR!

So as we imagine the awesome possibilities we get hyped… The problem here is that we don’t get hyped about what was shown, but rather about what we think this tech can be in the future (with no knowledge of whether it is possible soon or not).

And this over-hyped expectations then meet reality…

And when you dream about VR and think it will be like entering the Matrix and then realize its not quite it, you feel disappointed. That is the Trough of Disillusionment, the moment in which our overhyped, and over inflated expectations meet reality and make us feel that the tech is not quite what we wanted.

And if you don’t think we are there now, then the sales numbers of all major VR headsets say otherwise…

The Hype Cycle

Are we disappointed about VR? I’m not, but the public seems to have lost some interest.

There are multiple reasons for it, the technology is not accessible to many at this moment because of the price, cybersickness is still a thing and lastly there is a lack of premium content. Maybe beyond these there is a lack of really deep Virtual Reality experiences right now. Beyond the endless advertisements showing people watching something on a VR Headset that you can buy, the titles using VR don’t really have a broad enough coverage to be interesting to the masses.

So lets say we are actually on this Hype Scale, what comes after the Trough of Disillusionment? Well next in the Hype Cycle is the Slope of Enlightenment. At this stage more applications for the technology are discovered, and the consumers start understanding the technology better.

We can already see how Virtual Reality is much more than just another gaming medium, and can be used on education and health as well!

During this stage more companies are trying to get into the market but funds are limited. This is due to the fact that the technology is not mainstream yet, and unfortunately this will mean that some startups will fail.


It seems that the people at Gartner nailed the Hype Cycle. As of now it is describing the process of VR technology perfectly. For VR enthusiasts like ourselves this is great news, because being in the Trough of Disillusionment and maybe even a bit into the Slope of Enlightenment means the worst is behind us.

It means that soon we will be in the final step. The Plateau of Productivity! where VR will be a mainstream medium and content and hardware will be widely available.

Image Credit Tim Klapdor





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