How the Games Industry Can Adapt to VR Popularity
Over the last several years, we have seen significant adoption of virtual reality headsets. In 2017, UK based market research firm YouGov revealed that virtual reality headsets are experiencing much higher levels of early adoption than mobile tablets and wearables (such as the Apple Watch and the FitBit). In the study, titled VR: A Deeper Perspective, it was revealed that VR ownership had doubled in between quarters, increasing from 3% of the British population owning a headset in Q4 2016 compared to 6% ownership in Q1 2017.
With such rapid adoption of the technology, it’s important to ask how VR could possibly impact the games industry. It’s also important to discuss how the industry could adopt, making space for VR headsets and not naiively dismissing them as a novelty.
Games Can Become More Immersive
The immersive potential of virtual reality headsets has been one of the technology’s biggest selling points. Developers and manufacturers of VR headsets alike have spoken about the ‘atmospheric’ nature of the tech and how, by bringing these experiences right up to our faces, we can feel much more immersed and submerged in the fictional worlds.
We have already seen a heavy slate of immersive VR games, such as medieval fantasy title Skyrim VR and massively multiplayer space exploration title Elite Dangerous. These games are large and expansive but how can developers make other games for VR? How can the games offered by companies like William Hill also make the jump to VR headsets? Could slots such as Arcade Bomb use audio features to make the sounds of an explosion ricochet around a VR headset? Or could Wild Wild Chest use the twang of a guitar and the red dust of the plains to make players feel more involved?
Making a game for a VR headset is about a lot more than just making the software compatible with the hardware. It is about making players feel as though the game is designed for VR, specifically, and focusing on the immersion is one of the best ways to do that.
Reconsidering What Makes a ‘Game’
Some of the best VR games available today include those in traditional genres such as shooter Superhot VR and sports title Sprint Vector. But VR also includes non-traditional titles such as bomb defusing party game Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes in which players must work together, communicating effectively to solve a series of puzzles attached to the explosive. Some popular VR experiences also include Everest VR which lets players experience the mountain and social experiences like Facebook’s VR Space.
Party games outside of VR look like puzzle games, multiplayer shooters and sports simulation titles and social experiences look like Twitter and Facebook. But with increased adoption of VR, it means that developers can rethink what makes a game and how else they can entertain players.
As more and more people purchase VR headsets and embrace the potential of the tech, developers will have to switch things up. That may mean making more tweaks to immersion and game genre but it will be exciting to see what they can come up with.