I hope everyone is having a good week so far! I’ve been obsessed with a book series called The Twenty-Sided Sorceress this week. It’s an urban fantasy series all about a gaming nerd girl, who is also a substantial heavyweight magic user in her real life. In between worrying about her super evil ex-boyfriend trying to eat her heart, she is running a game store and playing tabletop games with her friends. There are a lot of video game and science fiction references, along with all the sweet action you might expect in urban fantasy. It’s not Harry Dresden, but the writing is pretty good, and the main character is pretty kick-ass.
Now that I’ve given my spiel on that, I want to talk about Virtual Reality. It was so exciting when it was starting to just come out. “WOAH, the future of gaming” type of thing. Now that it’s been out a couple years and there’s barely any more hype, you have to wonder what is going on? Is VR slowly becoming more popular as gamers with extra cash buy VR setups, or is it failing?
You guys, I truly believe that Virtual Reality has been a flop. What was expected by some to revolutionize gaming has done nothing of the sort. The sales have been disappointing to pretty much everyone in the business since VR launched. They hyped us all up but what good reason did we have to spend money on expensive new tech that wasn’t offering us games as good as the ones without VR?
IMAGE FROM OCULUS
VR for gaming isn’t new. It’s been out for twenty years. You might recall some old movies where kids are wearing these massive big black boxes on their head. It cost something like 10-30 grand too. That’s why in those old movies it was only seen in things like fancy arcades in California or huge Malls.
IMAGE FROM PINTEREST
One thing old VR and new VR seem to have in common though is the failure to launch. Perhaps for the same reasons. Although new VR is undoubtedly less pricey.
A big reason that VR has not been successful might be because the novelty wears off. It was hyped, and we were all super exciting. Some of us even tried VR, and it was a really cool new experience….then we never really thought about it again. That is to say, we never felt compelled to try VR again, because it is just a novelty at this point. There is nothing to really drive new users to purchase a VR headset, like really great games that need experience with VR. This is probably the biggest downfall of VR. That has resulted in VR not becoming mainstream. It seems like every time I come across a new VR game it’s more like a demo than an actual game.
It’s concerning to wonder how VR can overcome this issue of needing good, real games. VR isn’t very popular, and therefore companies are not interested in making specific games for VR. It seems the companies who own VR headsets need to do some real finagling to set up some great deals, where publishers will make games. That or VR companies need to start being game publishers. Sounds expensive.
What’s another problem with VR? The tech seems incomplete. Most of us have an opinion of how we want virtual reality to be. There are tons of shows and movies that feature a virtual reality, some way more in the realm of fantasy than others. However, they all have helped shape our ideas of what we expect from a virtual reality system. What’s out now, seems like the beginning stages of virtual reality. Something that needs many more years in development before giving us a fuller experience. I feel unfair saying it’s an issue of technology. I like to view it more as an expectation issue. It’s similar to robot battles. Where we want something from a futuristic Japan anime movie, but what is actually possible is way different. Clunky, slow, and almost like someone playing with toys instead of super impressive, mind-blowing tech.
IMAGE FROM ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
Another big issue with VR involves movement. You might have seen the funny movies of people playing VR and falling over. Yeah, well I don’t particularly feel like risking injury every time I play a game that requires movement.
The last huge issue is marketing. I feel like asking “what marketing” because really, there has been a serious lack of it. When iPods came out, they marketed it as music in your pocket. You could take your music everywhere and have it at the tips of your fingers. That was great marketing. It’s not as if handheld music devices were new, but they strove to make it feel that way. No one seems to have jumped on the wagon to market VR. There are reasons. The big reason being that huge companies have been making claims that they will be coming out with their own VR. Apple, specifically. Not sure if they really have made any claims, but it’s a big rumor. Which makes no one want to spend the money on marketing because Apple inevitably will if and when they come out with their own VR headset. Yeah, still waiting on that.
So, in the end, it’s expensive, there aren’t enough (or any) great VR games, the tech could still use some improvement, and the VR experience is nothing more than a novelty for most at the moment. Might want to hang on to your paycheck and give VR a few more years before buying a headset.
What is your experience with VR? What are your thoughts on this topic? Will it make a comeback?