Virtual reality has been touted as the future of video games, so much so that revenue predictions for this industry are as high as $70bn by 2020. China are pushing VR technology with the most intensity as revenues are expected to reach $8.6bn in the next 4 years. That is a huge prediction for something that hasn’t reached the masses yet. In fact, it would appear that the masses are not even aware this technology exists let alone have any real desire for it.
This hasn’t stopped Playstation from entering the market by releasing their new VR headset later this year. Gamers in the UK will be required to shell out £300 for the headset and an additional £300 to upgrade their console to function with VR. At this price I can understand why the majority are not buying into this technology; literally!
Despite the price, VR looks like it could add an extra level for most gamers by immersing players in a way that was inconceivable a few years ago. Imagine playing Gran Turismo and feeling like you are inside the car and checking your mirrors with only a turn of the head. Very few PC gamers will have been lucky enough to try out VR at this stage but there are a growing number of videos appearing on Youtube for horror games and first person shooters. I must say that I’m intrigued to try out VR first hand before truly judging this experience. However, it’s hard to imagine how VR will penetrate some mainstream titles that have no first person game play. I don’t see VR enhancing a game of FIFA, for example.
Maybe this is part of the reason why Microsoft are not following Playstation in the VR market, with currently no plans to bring this technology to the masses. Maybe they fear VR will come and go much like their kinect addition which has now become a redundant product for most Xbox consoles. The Wii is a prime example of how technology can pass like a fashion trend. The motion sensor controllers for this console were eventually regarded as a gimmick, resulting in many gamers returning to a more familiar gaming experience of using the standard controller or keyboard.
Very few people have had chance to play video games using VR so it is hard to tell whether this technology will impress the mass gaming audience. I don’t doubt that there will be more exciting news about VR at E3 next month but maybe this technology will only truly become accessible to mainstream customers in the next few years. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, check out an example of VR in action here for GTA V: