Why Virtual Reality Gaming May Take Off This Year

January 27, 2017

9:15 am

Virtual reality headsets were one of the most popular Christmas gift items in 2016, largely because the market demand has produced moderately priced versions and we are all looking for the next great technology experience. It is estimated that, by 2020, this market will reach $30 billion.

Augmented and virtual reality actually both had a slow birth in the gaming industry. But now that the technology has improved and the demand has increased, developers and publishers of games have no choice – virtual reality will be the new normal for the gaming industry before we know it.

Current Stats

According to an IB Times article published this month, a survey of gaming developers and publishers resulted in the following data:

  • Only about 30 percent of game developers are actually working on titles for VR platforms
  • 33 percent are developing titles for Vive
  • 24 percent are developing title for the Oculus Rift
  • 15 percent plan to publish titles for the PlayStation platform

While this may seem a bit sluggish in terms of development, The Times predicts that newer data which will come out of the Game Developers Conference sponsored by UBM Game Network next month in San Francisco. This event will prove to instill a much greater level of enthusiasm among developers and publishers. There will of course be all sorts of gaming hardware on display, including the newest gaming monitors that promise amazing 3-D experiences, but VR gaming will make a big splash, promising to take gaming to a whole new level.

Why Virtual Reality Is Inevitable for the Gaming Industry

Virtual reality is moving into all aspects of online experiences. As it does, gaming developers and publishers will be forced to provide those same experiences or face decline. And the technology is already there in this industry niche while it is only developing in others. Here are a couple of examples of how VR is moving into other niches.

Kite and Lightning, a company heavily involved in the technology of virtual reality for marketing and the movie industry, is moving businesses enterprises into VR technology. It has partnered with GE to give us VR experience deep in the oceans. It has partnered with film-makers to provide the technology to moviegoers’ experiences. And the company is now partnering with ecommerce to provide virtual dressing rooms for clothing consumers. All of these things, says August Cenname, COO of Kite and Lightning, will move VR into the norm of everyday experiences. Right now, however, he says:

“Gamers are the one demographic at this point with an installed base of computers powerful enough for full VR…So gaming is where the action will be in 2017 on the high-end platforms.”

Facebook purchased Oculus in 2014, and had many scratching their heads, wondering why. It has already developed and displayed a prototype for their use of VR. At its recent F8 conference, it showcased this prototype to show developers the possibilities of VR for social media. The technology will change the way people interact with one another and with enterprises on social media, even though this is a few years out.

With VR entering marketing and social media, consumers will come to see it as the web experience they want on a regular basis. The gaming industry has the opportunity to jump on this right now, and predictions are that, while VR has had a bit of a hiatus in the gaming industry, that is about the change.

A Question of Platforms and Devices

The stats above seem to indicate that developers currently prefer the HTC Vive right now. Preferences, however, are also pretty fluid. Just one year prior, the Rift was the preferred platform. The question is no longer whether VR will experience a big resurrection in the coming year – the question will be which devices developers and publishers will see as the most profitable. In 2017, moreover, it is predicted that 20 million VR headsets will be sold to consumers. Stay tuned.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien