Virtual reality has taken our world by storm last year – or did it? The idea of stepping inside our favorite gaming universes, exploring its sceneries and shooting our enemies in a completely immersive way seems attractive at first sight, yet there are many aspects – especially tied to computer specifications and prices – that prevent VR from spreading at the speed some of us might have expected.
Last year has seen the release of the Oculus Rift, HTC’s Vive, PlayStation VR, and more accessible variants, like Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s inexpensive Cardboard. These didn’t perform as great (commercially speaking) than other gaming and technology innovations, though, showing that VR will be a marathon rather than a sprint – we can expect it to become mainstream but not in the short term.
Will 2017 be the year of VR?
The short answer would be “no”. VR still has a long way to go before becoming widespread.
First of all, take a look at the hardware requirements the “more serious” VR headsets come with. Oculus Rift needs at least a Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM and a GeForce GTX790/Radeon R9 920 (or better) GPU. For most, this is a serious financial effort in itself. Add the price of the headset itself ($599 without the Touch controller) and you get a total that would buy a quite strong gaming gear with no VR. Virtual reality, it seems, is not something people can’t live without, and this is holding back the spread of the technology to the general public.
Next, there’s the way people play games today. Desktop gamers are used to playing their games on screens – even large ones in some cases – so stepping inside them with the help of VR might not be that attractive at this point. Mobile games, in turn, have no need for VR: most smartphone gamers play simple ones that have no use for total immersion. The likes of Red Flush casino games, for example, have limited system requirements and were built to run on virtually any hardware. Red Flush games load quickly on the desktop and mobile devices and share the burden of calculating their outcome with the Red Flush servers. They are casual games, like the majority of those smartphone users play, that have no use for virtual reality.
What to expect in 2017?
This year will see the further spread of VR – which is an amazing technology with myriads of possibilities – and software products making use of them. After open-sourcing its tracking system, HTC expects more accessories to appear for its Vive headset. Microsoft has announced its own – more affordable – headsets last October and has showcased them at the CES this year, yet no word about their release date is known at this point. Oculus and Sony have kept quiet about their own products this year – could they hold back something big to be revealed later?
This concludes my article on what to expect from virtual reality in 2017. Do any of you have any thoughts on VR so far? Please feel free to let us know in the comments section below.