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The Future Of VR Gaming: What’s In Store For Us?

How VR is poised to take over the video game market

After being docile for years, virtual reality finally got the jolt it needed last year, thanks to the renewed interest by major companies, such as Samsung, Sony, Google, Microsoft, HTC, and Facebook.

That said, 2016 wasn’t really what we had all anticipated for VR. Despite the bold gains made by the industry, the end-year result was a rather lukewarm response from customers in general. The reasons were, of course, obvious. The combined cost of a proper VR headset and a capable VR-Ready gaming PC, console or high-end smartphone was too steep for many wallets, and there weren’t enough games to justify it as a smart investment.

We’re now well into 2017, and the same concerns still plague the virtual reality scene. However, the players involved aren’t hitting the brakes anytime soon. Hardware manufacturers and game developers are working together to propel VR into an even brighter future, which will bring more affordable gadgets, improved visual quality and better software.

Below is a look at what to expect of VR gaming down the road.

1. Less Virtual, more reality

 

Currently, VR gaming is essentially limited to a user’s visual and auditory senses, with no regard for other biological aspects like temperature, smell, fatigue and so on.

Catering to as many senses as possible is the key to unlocking the full potential of virtual reality. The gaming experience of the future is therefore likely to break the barrier between the virtual realm and the physical world by incorporating more ways of not only viewing, but feeling VR.

The transition from immersive to fully interactive won’t be here for a while, but developers are already thinking about ways to strengthen the reality factor of VR, and ultimately fade out the virtual bit.

2. Better games

 

Video game developers have accomplished a lot over the last two decades. Thanks to ambitious innovation and rapid technology advancement, the games of today look better than ever before.

However, the new age of virtual reality has compelled game makers to go back to the drawing board. Consequently, we’re seemingly back at a point somewhat similar to when the world was transitioning from 2D to 3D gaming.

At present, the VR games available are quite basic, and the graphics don’t match the standard to which we’ve become accustomed. Sure, we have dreamy immersive games like Crytek’s The Climb for the Oculus Rift and Wevr’s TheBlu: Encounter for the HTC Vive, but there’s still much more to be done.

Thankfully, as history has repeatedly proven, things are bound to get better with time. A future where wearing a VR headset will transport you to mind-blowingly realistic virtual worlds with imaginative stories and captivating campaigns is not that far away.

3. New accessories

 

Virtual reality hardware is remarkable as is, but none among the major brands is content with its position. This has, in recent months, been evidenced by the constant release of new accessories from industry leaders in a bid to enhance the experience and woo new customers.

The Oculus Rift, for example, originally shipped with an Xbox One gamepad that paled in comparison to the HTC Vive’s wands and the PlayStation VR’s Moves. Now, however, the Rift has its Touch controllers, which come with buttons for a more realistic simulation of grabbing and combat within games.

But the Oculus’ edge over its competitors may be short-lived, as HTC has unveiled its most ambitious accessories yet, Vive Trackers. Wildly resembling beer coasters on stilts, the trackers can be worn on feet to stomp on monsters or attached to a physical object for use in the virtual world.

Such cutting-edge technology will likely push other manufacturers to start thinking out of the box.

4. Multiplayer VR

 

Multiplayer platforms are a crucial aspect of modern gaming, and they’re especially essential for virtual reality. Thankfully, there’s already a decent number of fantastic VR games that you and your friends can play together.

Any headset, from the Gear VR to the Oculus Rift can land you a free pass into hits like Minecraft and Resident Evil 7, as well as less familiar but admirable titles like Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, Raw Data and Elite Dangerous. Developers aren’t oblivious to the promise that multiplayer VR gaming holds, and more games are undoubtedly on the way.

However, the Internet isn’t the only avenue that the virtual reality industry of the future will be willing to explore. Modal VR, a company co-founded by Atari creator Nolan Bushnell, has generated quite the fuss with its ambition to bring back arcade gaming, through VR technology.

In line with the company’s vision, up to 20,000 square feet will be transformed into apocalyptic cities and alien planets, into which you’ll enter with a friend’s hand in yours, and move around as if you’re actually there.

We may have to wait awhile for VR arcades to become a reality, but by thinking this big, companies like Modal VR show how much potential there is in virtual reality.

5. Price Drops

 

Premium VR gear is expensive, but as with all consumer products, prices will fall sooner or later. Oculus seems to be the brand leading this unsurprising trend as its Rift headset and Touch controllers bundle now costs $598, down from $798. The price is still high, but it’s a step in the right direction.

The HTC Vive doesn’t seem to be getting cheaper anytime soon, but the same can’t be said about the PlayStation VR. Currently selling for $399, the headset is expected to get cheaper soon, as Sony gears up for additional competition from Microsoft’s upcoming Project Scorpio console and its predicted partnership with Oculus.

Let’s not forget about PC hardware costs either – for around $200-300 you can get yourself a basic VR-Ready desktop graphics card, or, if you’re a mobile gaming fan, you can expect to fork out $1700 for a VR-ready laptop.

Moreover, with pressure from new players like Asus and Razer building steadily, 2017 looks like the year VR will finally start getting into people’s homes.

Final Words

 

Virtual reality may just now be on its way to achieving mainstream success but it’s not a new concept. When it first graced the limelight in the 90s, it was nothing more than an implausible gimmick.

This time, however, feels different. The enthusiasm among tech companies, developers, innovators, and gamers should be enough to convince you that a future in virtual reality is inevitable.

Are you on the fence about VR gaming? Now looks like a good time to jump in.