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Gaming on Samsung Gear VR? Expect Overheating Problems.

Interest in mobile VR is heating up ... and so are the phones.

Since Samsung announced the mobile-based virtual reality headset Gear VR — and its partnership with Facebook-owned Oculus VR — in September, the South Korean electronics giant has emphasized media “experiences” rather than games. That continued today with the announcement of a 360-degree 3-D camera intended for making VR content, called Project Beyond.

But there are games here at the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco, and they come with one big caveat: You can’t play them for very long. At demo stations for the Gear VR, which Samsung says will go on sale in early December, company representatives are regularly swapping out the phones on which the experiences run, the Galaxy Note 4, to keep them from overheating.

At Samsung’s official game demo area, workers never used the word “overheating,” but openly talked about changing out the phones on a schedule in between some conference attendees’ demos. VR input company Sixense, which was showing off a cool lightsaber training simulator, said it had three Galaxy Note 4s and was changing them out every 15 to 20 minutes.

Other developers observing the Sixense demo concurred that the phone’s “thermal limit” is a problem to be solved. I proposed a small fan accessory to blow away the smoke when it catches on fire.

Developers also say overheating seems to be less of a problem with the more emphasized media experiences, like 360-degree movies, because those can be “pre-rendered.” In other words, without a player holding a controller and interacting with the virtual world live, every possible thing users might see is more predictable, placing less strain on the device.

The first Gear VR is called an “innovator edition,” meaning it’s intended mainly for early adopters and VR geeks even though it will be on sale to the public. No pricing information for the headset has been announced, but the mandatory Galaxy Note 4 starts at $300 with a wireless contract and more than $700 without one.

Update: Oculus announced in a blog post that the Gear VR headset will cost $200 on its own, or $250 bundled with a Bluetooth gamepad. So that puts the starting cost of the innovator edition at $500 with a wireless contract.

This article originally appeared on

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