2016 will go down as the year that at-home virtual reality gaming became a reality for gamers. This technology’s introduction hasn’t necessarily been the event that many had expected, but there’s no doubt that it will have a massive change on the community. The first crop of VR headsets are on the market and the games are starting to roll out, with even more being developed with VR in mind.
Both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are now on store shelves and the early buzz has been promising, though not mind-blowing. While the novelty is definitely there, it’ll take some time for developers to catch up to the new technology, as it does with any console. Very few systems launch with tons of must-play games, as it generally takes at least a year for any new hardware to develop a library of worthwhile games. VR is no different.
That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of worthwhile titles available that show the promise of these systems. Among them are space combat simulators like EVE: Valkyrie and Elite: Dangerous, which are must-plays for gamers who have wanted the experience of sitting in the cockpit of their own space shuttle. But some of the best games for VR are simply modified versions of more traditional console games. Of all games, Minecraft is one of the best VR adaptations with its simplistic, open-world construction lending itself well to the virtual realm. Modders have already made similar ports with games such as Skyrim and World of Warcraft.
Creating a more immersive experience for players has long been a goal for game developers. One of the best ways to achieve this has been through more realistic AI, or better yet, the inclusion of real people. The developers at Gala Casino have pursued this by adding live dealer options to many of its games, including blackjack and roulette, that allow players to interact with an actual person in real time as they play the game. The end result is a significantly more dynamic experience that helps to create a much more realistic setting that transports gamers right into the action. It’s only a matter of time until virtual reality is more widely adapted to this style of gaming, and we wouldn’t be surprised if soon players were interacting with live dealers in a digital VR recreation of Caesar’s Palace. VR is steadily incorporating all kinds of game genres from racing and flight simulators to puzzle games, so it wouldn’t be shocking for VR to reach out to wider audiences by incorporating more casual experiences.
Of course, casual audiences are going to get on board until the technology becomes much more affordable. Both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift cost well over $500 and that’s before you add in the cost of the high-end PC required to run these games. Playstation VR is expected to retail at around $400, but its big advantage is the built-in userbase of more than 40 million people that already have the equipment necessary to run it. PSVR is planned for release on Oct. 13, 2016.
We only expect things to grow from here for the nascent technology. There are plenty of exciting games planned for the next yearincluding Star Wars: Battlefront X-Wing VR and a VR version of the terrifying looking Resident Evil 7. The future is looking bright for VR. As the hardware becomes more affordable and more games are developed, you can expect its audience to grow by leaps and bounds.