It’s been nearly a year since the VR craze started. As the headsets were being released to the public, many called it the future of gaming, claiming that in the next decade, everybody will be using VR headsets for all things entertainment.
Some time has passed and the hype has died down a bit, leaving a more reasonable impression of the technology, where it can grow, and how it can impact the gaming industry.
Limitations Of The Controls
A major sticking point for VR is how to control the game. Right now, there are two available control schemes. The first is to use a traditional controller to move your character around and perform actions. This lessens the immersive experience, and some claim it makes them feel sick.
The other control style is motion controls. Every VR system has its own version of it. There are the high-end motion controls, like those in the HTC Vive, that have motion following cameras and sophisticated motion controllers. But then there are the low-end ones too, like PSVR, that just use the same motion controllers from when the PS3 tried to compete with the Wii.
Right now, the control schemes limit what both the games and the players can do. Motion controls, while more immersive, lack the accuracy provided by other control methods. Traditional controllers with VR often lead to players feeling sick, or just a less than satisfactory experience. Until a new control method can be found that fixes these problems, VR will have a long road ahead of them.
Still The Most Immersive Experiences
One can’t doubt that VR gaming is immersive. With traditional video games, you feel a part of the game, but there is still a degree of separation.
That’s the biggest strength VR has, and it needs to play to that. They can take storytelling to new levels and take people on journeys they’ve never thought of. They can do more than just games and movies too, creating entire experiences outside of those two forms of content.
What VR can’t do is simply port over other games into the VR space and call it good. Yes, some first person games will be good, but VR needs to stand apart. There needs to be experiences you can only find on a VR headset, or there is even less of a reason to pick one up.
Less Tech Demos, More Content
Anytime new technology hits video games, the first batch of games are more or less tech demos. Look at the Wii for example. Many of their big games, like Wii Sports, Wii Play, and Twilight Princess, used the motion controls extensively. A major problem for the Wii was that developers couldn’t move past that tech demo stage, and in turn didn’t make games for the system.
Very easily, VR could run into a similar situation, where the only games made for it are basically tech demos. Developers might be unsure what to do with the tech, and if must-play games are being made for the market, people won’t buy VR.
Many signs point to the VR industry to do well, with many developers making games currently for the platforms. Especially with Sony producing the PSVR, which pairs with the current leader in console sales the PS4, VR has the potential to become even larger if other companies jump on board.
Right now, VR gaming is expensive. It’s an extra $400 for a PSVR, on top of the console, $600 for an Oculus Rift, and $800 for an HTC Vive, The second two require a fairly high-end PC to run, which isn’t cheap also.
A major cause for the industry to survive is lower prices. It’s understandable right now for the prices to be high, the technology is still new. But if VR is going to become “the future of gaming” then the prices need to come down, or not require external systems to run.
Right now, VR is all peripherals, between the headset and motion controls and cameras for it to work. Price wise, it’s too expensive for peripherals. If they could have a self-contained VR system, it might be worth the current prices, but once the prices come down, VR will grow a lot more.
Building Stronger Brands
A current major failing is the lack of brand presence with VR headsets. Yes, people know what they are and what they do, and many have tried them out, but the branding is still weak.
If the VR companies want to stick around for the long term and have people buy multiple generations of their hardware, their branding needs to be stronger. Eventually, they’ll need to pay for the marketing to get more awareness and build that brand loyalty needed to stay successful.
What are your thoughts on the future of VR? Do you think it’s a gimmick that will fade away, or is it really the future of gaming? Let us know in the comments below!