If you could only pick one piece of technology which has truly exploded in the last few years, Virtual Reality headsets would be towards the top of the list. For decades, VR has been painted as the future of entertainment in both utopian and dystopian terms. The future is here but is it worth investing in a VR headset just yet? There are a number of options on the market but is now the time to switch to VR?
Virtual Reality is nothing new in the world of entertainment. Immersive arcade machines date back over 60 years but VR, as we know it in its current form, has only really been around for the last decade or so. For a time, Virtual Reality was little more than a Tron-like fantasy for most consumers but that has all changed in the last decade since the development of the Oculus Rift. The first truly mainstream VR headset was bought out by Facebook for $2 billion in 2015, thus ushering in a wave of other products.
The market quickly became saturated with competitors and now, consumers have a wide variety of choices to pick from to suit any budget. There are the more budget options like the $15 Google Cardboard and midrange products like the $120 Samsung Gear and $199 Oculus Go. This varies all the way up to the high-end products like $600 HTC Vive Focus which is scheduled to ship in October 2018.
Some of these are technically unbelievable, especially the high-end products. They are capable of creating a whole new virtual world for the user and the kit is being employed by a number of different industries. A BBC report looked at how VR is being used by the education sector as a training tool for student surgeons. Similarly, a Virtual Reality was a crucial tool in the production of Steven Spielberg’s 2018 film, Ready Player One. It has also been used in the world of retail. In 2015, a marketing company called SapientNitro developed an application which employed Augmented Reality to allow its customers to view how certain products would look in their own home.
A lot of industries are investing in Virtual Reality technology for use more as a tool than a form of entertainment. However, the most widely recognised use for the tech has still been in the world of gaming. A number of well-known console and PC titles have been converted to VR such as Bethesda’s Skyrim and Fallout 4 but the technology has opened the door to new and exciting development possibilities.
The choice for consumers is broad. There are adventure titles like CCP Games’ EVE: Valkyrie as well as games based on popular franchises like Ubisoft’s Star Trek: Bridge Crew. Microgaming has worked with Betway to develop Virtual Reality casino games and slot machines and the Italian developer, Kunos Simulazioni has created a well-received driving title called Assetto Corsa. As far as gaming is concerned, there are lots of options to pick from.
But that’s not to say that there aren’t negatives to the technology. There are some health problems which can arise for consumers when using Virtual Reality for a lengthy period of time. Dizziness and headaches aren’t uncommon for users, neither is eye soreness after spending a prolonged period of time just a few inches away from a small screen. Problems like these, however, when the technology improves and catches up with the traditional console and computer games.
But the nature of virtual reality also brings its own set of drawbacks. Users lose the social aspect of video gaming if they are immersed in the isolationist nature of the technology. The quality of the visuals and sound is far from adequate to truly appreciate some of the AAA titles currently on the market and that gap will only widen as time goes by. Similarly, it will always be harder to play some genres of games like first-person shooters and sports games on the current range of VR headsets which will limit its audience.
But that’s won’t bother some people. Many consumers are now moving into the world of Virtual Reality and it’s easy to see why. The technology is better quality and more affordable to a larger portion of the population. There is a wide range of options available and an even wider array of industries utilising the technology for any number of different reasons but gaming is what will attract more new users. There are some excellent titles available as game developers come to terms with the new technology which certainly has its drawbacks. However, things will surely improve in the years to come as the industry develops.
Image Credits: Virtual Reality Headset from SFIO CRACHO/Shutterstock