Naysayers in the video games industry aren’t few in number.
From those proclaiming the inevitable end of the latest genre fad to those who think they can predict what will (and what won’t) make money, experts are about as numerous as grains of sand on a beach.
But accuracy and true insights are as scarce as a diamond itself.
And that’s why it is probably best that people take reports of mobile VR’s untimely death with more than a grain of salt.
Try a whole heaping spoonful.
The segment of the virtual reality industry that doesn’t seem to receive too much attention when compared to its more powerful brethren, mobile VR is alive and kicking if not moderately prosperous.
Phone Arena, a website dedicated to smartphones and tech, outlines how the promises of mobile VR haven’t really panned out three years on in its article “Mobile VR is Dead” by Victor Hristov.
To be sure, smartphone-powered VR gaming is probably not going anywhere anytime soon – and that’s a bummer.
Yet not for the reasons we might think it is.
Samsung Gear VR and smartphone kits are probably a dead end, as Hristov points out, and the lack of quality content probably doesn’t help anything.
If anything “mobile VR” that involves a smartphone is probably the lowest tier of the VR game in terms of graphics and immersion.
So it’s not surprising that the software isn’t keeping pace with the more mainline VR games.
Let’s not forget: VR takes a lot of computing power. Expecting mobile VR, as it is currently formulated, to work might be a fool’s game.
That’s because smartphones preference other things, among them photography, videography, and traditional gaming. Expecting the chipsets that power most top-of-the-line headsets to also put out triple-A VR is just not realistic.
No doubt we will probably still see some kind of effort on mobile VR in the future but, agreeing with Phone Arena, it’s probably going to be of lower quality.
What, exactly, is the future of mobile VR then?
The future of mobile VR lies in a paradigm shift. That is moving away from the notion of smartphone-dependent mobile to dedicated (and powerful) mobile VR headsets themselves.
Manufacturers are already moving hard into the standalone market and that is probably the future of “mobile” VR. We could see smartphones being incorporated as a kind of GPS and use it for ancillary tasks but the future of VR on the go seems to be in a dedicated headset configuration.
Not only will this make sure that mobile VR is giving users an experience comparable to tethered or console virtual reality but also de-couples mobile VR’s pace of growth from that of the rise in processing power of smartphones.
Mobile VR isn’t going anywhere, that’s for sure. It’s just changing.
Then again, the one issue that could undercut all of this is the price of these headsets. If they are prohibitively expensive this could become a niche within a niche at best. Only the future knows for certain.