The term “VR revolution” has been applied very generously over the years, and particularly over the last four or five. In 2015 there was talk of forthcoming VR headsets and the already well-known Oculus Rift making it to the larger consumer market. In 2016 the headsets emerged, and for the better part of two years people got used to them and the various experiences they could facilitate. At the end of last year though, and heading into 2019, we may finally have started to see some developments that collectively could bring about said “revolution” and turn VR into a more ubiquitous technology (and make VR gaming more popular). These were as follows:
- Device-Free Headsets – These were really discussed throughout 2018, but some of the ones we’ve heard about are still gearing up for release. What they are, essentially, is VR headsets that work independently, without having to link to more powerful computing devices (PCs, advanced smartphones, gaming consoles, etc.).
- 5G – At this point, 5G internet is mostly still something on the near-future horizon, but it represents a monumental jump in data processing speeds, and some are already calling it the swift kick VR gaming needs to go more mainstream. It’s expected to provide gamers with more seamless and satisfying experiences, as well as broader libraries of games available through “streaming” (think Netflix, but for gaming and with super-fast speeds).
- Affordability – Device-free headsets are already set to make VR gaming more affordable, simply because you only need to buy the headset, and not an accompanying machine to power it with. However, there’s also some general correction of the market allowing for some of the newer and better headsets to be made available at slightly less than the exorbitant prices we saw early on for high-end headsets like the HTC Vive.
As these three developments run their course, we can expect to see VR gradually becoming more normal and accessible, and by extension we should see VR gaming really start to comprise a formidable category, as most expected it might a couple years ago. The question would then be, if this does happen, what will people actually do with a bigger and better version of VR gaming? Which games would thrive?
Shooters have been somewhat polarizing in VR. Some have dismissed the category as too challenging for the medium, or more specifically as likely to induce motion sickness. Others have praised the inventive approaches some developers have taken in making the genre work. Our bet is that with bigger and better VR gaming, shooters will take off. Action games are always among the most popular options, and this is in large part because of the wild popularity of shooters. One way or another, most of the big franchises as well as some new ones will undoubtedly thrive in virtual reality.
Racing may already be the most impressive type of gaming in VR, for the simple reason that it basically solves the inherent locomotion issues of VR by its own nature. You can play a racing game to its full, most action-packed extent without getting out of your seat on the couch, and this doesn’t change when you’re doing it in first person through VR. Relatively little innovation is required compared to other genres, but as the devices get more capable and games get more beautiful, racing should be incredibly impressive.
Casinos It’s actually somewhat difficult to know what route will ultimately win out for casinos in VR. The obvious avenue is for poker tournaments to become true first person experiences, along with some other table games. In this way, whole casino floors could be organized in VR. On the other hand, the robust and cutting edge suite of offerings at the newer slot sites online feature whole little video games revolving around slot machines – some of which have already ventured into virtual reality. Through one or potentially all of these areas, this category appears to be ready for the big time, and should explode in popularity with more widespread VR.
Escapes & Mysteries
With shooters and racing games we look more to consoles for models of the games that can move into VR, and with casinos, the inspiration comes primarily from browsers. Mobile gaming will also provide some experiences that will directly transfer to VR though, and in this space the escape and mystery genres are primed for advancement. These games tend to rely fairly little on controls and locomotion, and a great deal on settings, soundtracks, and convincing visuals. By this nature alone they’re ideally suited to VR. Imagine your favorite “escape the room” or level-by-level mystery adventure on mobile app form, turned into a fully immersive, 360-degree first person experience, and you get the idea.