Virtual reality (VR) is marching toward wide scale consumer adoption, with the headsets and control technologies becoming increasingly advanced and larger quantities of content being developed.
These developments are certainly promising, and serve to show that the VR games industry is here to stay. However, is the industry at risk of becoming fractured?
What’s currently on offer
While no headsets can be purchased in their consumer form, there are two devices which could see large scale releases within the next year. The Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus are the two big contenders, each with similar levels of onboard technology and developer support.
Rift has famously been bought out by social media giant, Facebook, with Project Morpheus being technology company Sony’s latest brain child.
These two headsets are tied to specific platforms, with the Rift only compatible with PC, and the Morpheus with PlayStation 4. This means it’s going to be difficult to develop games across both platforms, unless the technologies used are relatively similar.
One only needs to look to the current games consoles to get an idea of how the VR industry might play out in terms of game content.
How the consoles work
For well over a decade there have always been several video game consoles on the market. Currently, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have offerings available – known as the “Big Three”. The hardware on board these devices, as well as the control methods, are almost always extremely similar.
This means when a game developer decides to create content, it’s a simple undertaking with only slight adjustments needing to be made.
With VR, control measures and tracking technologies have no established standard. Both game pads and motion sensors are currently used, and this could change in the near future.
What this means for the future of VR is that ease of access across multi-platforms, for both developers and gamers, is uncertain.
The role of developers
It could be that instead of having to just create a video game for use on three different consoles and PCs, developers may soon need to include VR as well. This could mean modifying the game for use on four different platforms, as well as two (or more) VR headsets.
The cost involved here may be beyond what many developers are capable of, thus leaving the majority of content to be focused on first party games for PlayStation, and independent titles for the Rift.
What this means for the consumer
All this can essentially affect the gamers, as they will need to make an informed choice of which gaming console to purchase and therefore which platform to use. This could possibly limit game choice, and will most likely lead to higher prices for different units.
Is regulation the answer? Yes and no. Although regulation could mean ease of access for game developers, it may also lead to price fixing and less freedom of choice for gamers themselves. In the current market, there is a lot of competition which can effectively drive prices down as major companies play off against each other.
With all this talk of regulation, market pricing and platforms, the VR sector of the gaming industry is facing a number of challenges through their ‘start up’ phase.
Combatted with some forward-thinking and market intelligence, VR has some seriously exciting potential for the future of the gaming industry.