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Virtual Reality: From queasy concept to versatile mind-goggler

Mon 17 Jun 2019 | Jorge A Gaspar

Virtual Reality

Get ready to strap on those VR goggles, the promised promise of VR is finally here, writes Jorge Gaspar

Do you remember the promise of virtual reality? Oculus Rift made headlines years ago by releasing a VR headset that was priced at $600 (£477) after the company raised more than $2.5 million (£2.5m) in funds through a Kickstarter campaign and being bought by Facebook. Sony also released their VR headset in 2016, with a much lower price point that the Oculus VR. The big difference is that the PlayStation VR needed a PlayStation to play it, while the Oculus Rift did not. At $399 (£238), the PlayStation VR seemed like a good deal if you already owned a PlayStation console.

With the release of VR headsets, came the promise of a whole new experience in gaming. All of a sudden virtual worlds could be available everywhere to anyone, at least to those who could afford it. The hype around VR was strong, but unfortunately the disappointment that followed its release was palpable. Not only was the price tag a touch too expensive for your average gamer, but the games released with VR headsets were nascent and not of the highest quality. Sony did release about 31 VR titles in 2016 – plenty more than the Oculus did – but a lack of compelling software content helped to snuff out the VR fuse.

Additionally, VR sickness reared its ugly head. It was already known that flight simulator sickness was a real thing that caused pilots to shy away from using them frequently. VR sickness was no different. The video game media and influencers reported common symptoms, which directly contributed (along with all the other factors) to lacklustre VR sales.

Light at the end of the tunnel

However, like all things technology, the world of VR has been steadily improving since it’s 2016 commercial debut. There are now a multitude of VR headsets commercially available, and there are many more slated to be released in the next couple of years. Big players like Samsung, Microsoft, and Google have entered the VR market. The headsets themselves have undergone drastic transformations. They are lighter, cableless, and have built-in features to help reduce VR sickness. More importantly, the price of these headsets has considerably dropped since they were first released.

Another VR component that has steadily improved are the games themselves. When VR games were first released, there were a very limited number of game modes that were available. It was basically all tower defence and static shoot ‘em ups.

The games available now are of a much higher quality and quite varied in their gameplay. For example, Resident Evil 7 made a huge splash in the VR scene when it was first released. It offered a VR and Resident Evil experience like nothing consumers had seen before. Other games like TSA:Frisky took VR an entirely different direction. TSA:Frisky took a mundane, everyday job like being a TSA agent and made it fun and entertaining.

The hype around VR was strong, but unfortunately, the disappointment that followed its release was palpable

There’s another big contributor to the resurgence of VR, VRcades. Companies like the Silicon Valley based startup, Virtual World Arcade, are dead set on bringing VR to the masses. The most interesting thing about the VRcade phenomenon is its widespread distribution. VRcades are popping up all over the world. There are locations in Japan, Malaysia, Latin America, and North America. Customers can experience VR games without having to pony up the hardware or software cost. If the customers have a blast, they can and will purchase their own VR equipment for home use.

Lastly, the return of VR is directly correlated to it being used in multiple non-gaming related applications. There’s VR software that helps children cope with the fear of vaccinations, there are VR applications for helping children with autism, education is being elevated by VR, and there are endless possibilities for VR in the non-gaming entertainment industry. These examples are only a few of the many different ways VR is being applied to everyday life. Get ready to strap on those VR goggles, the promised promise of VR is finally here.

Experts featured:

Jorge A Gaspar

Co-founder and CFO
Vicarious PR

Tags:

gaming Virtual Reality
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