Virtual reality has some of the most divisive analyses out there among “industry experts.”
Some people think it is a failure as a gaming medium while others see it as taking over the space entirely.
But what’s actually going to happen and what does it matter for VR gaming now?
Without a doubt, among the clamor of the crowd, the naysayers are the loudest right now.
That’s understandable, especially given the reluctance of some major players to jump into VR and the struggle some formats have faced even years after their launch.
Yet 2018 was a banner year for VR in many ways. Expanding well beyond just gaming, virtual reality and augmented reality are taking on new roles in commerce, industry, and business applications that are expanding the format’s viability well beyond what it was a few years ago.
From visualizing architectural projects before they are completed to helping with industrial processes such as remote operation of robots, virtual reality’s roots are starting to grow out into other parts of the tech terrain which will only help it withstand the cyclical ups and downs to come.
And, the theory goes, because VR and AR are becoming so well established outside of gaming, their impact on gaming is going to be huge. Basically, VR is going to take over according to the folks over at Metro.
Beginning with a brief history of the medium, Metro’s Game Central delves into the small ways that Oculus, Sony PSVR, and HTC are changing the public’s perception of VR games and virtual reality in general. Where VR will benefit in the future, and where it will get its biggest boost in terms of players, will be in developing massively multiplayer online games. This is because VR’s calling card – extreme levels of immersion – cannot be replicated by anything else. If devs can successfully port the dynamic communities that exist in MMOs to the VR space, then there will be a veritable explosion in the popularity of the segment.
We can imagine that a first-person shooter or a role-playing game would suffice, but, really, any massive community that draws tons of players (and sells units in the process) is what we are talking about here. Just like DOOM popularized PC gaming, a killer multiplayer, online app for VR will help expand the player base to new and different segments.
This concept was explored somewhat by EVE Online developer CCP’s Valkyrie effort. That game, which put players in the pilot’s seat of a ship from the EVE universe, drew heavily on that game’s lore and established community to somewhat mixed results. This hasn’t stopped CCP from trying and many people think a space MMO is particularly well suited to a VR effort. Another aspect that has pushed the effort along but still only represents a half measure is the porting of titles like Skyrim and Resident Evil 7 to VR. Though these are not built for VR from the ground up, the translation of the traditional experience into the new virtual reality mode is noteworthy for its attempts to use triple-A, blockbuster franchises to bring in new players to VR. The difference in the future will be that these franchises will start to be constructed for VR first and perhaps other formats after that.