Modern virtual reality gaming has been around for a few years now, with mixed results. The medium did not replace consoles, as some lofty predictions once indicated it might, and VR headsets remain far from ubiquitous in gaming households. On the other hand, the technology has come a long way, and there are some excellent games on the market — as well as headsets that are growing progressively more capable and less expensive.
It still appears as if VR has a bright future in gaming, and will simply take a little longer to get there than we anticipated. As highlighted in our post ‘What Does VR Stand For?‘, VR gaming has a wider reach and generates much more users’ interest compared to other types of applications of the technology. The medium still has a lot of room for growth though, which is why we’re taking some time to consider some of its next big evolutions.
More Open Worlds
Open world gaming has always seemed to be the Holy Grail of VR gaming. Stepping into a video game in first person to enjoy an immersive experience is one thing; stepping into a convincing version of an entire world is something altogether more exciting. To date, this hasn’t really been possible, at least to any satisfying degree. But technological advances – especially the arrival of 5G networks – are changing that. According to a recent report on 5G, these new, ultra-fast networks will speed up connections and decrease latency in a way that allows for much faster and smoother data transmission. This, in turn, will enable VR to handle much larger and more intricate worlds, which will likely result in mind-blowing gaming experiences.
Known Fictional Settings
In part because of the 5G-related changes just discussed, it’s also likely that VR will evolve to include more known fictional settings for gamers to jump into. Whether this means planets from Star Wars, kingdoms from Game Of Thrones, the halls and classrooms of Hogwarts, or even the dark alleys of Gotham City — the possibilities are exciting. Better worlds in VR will mean that the most beloved works of fiction can be brought to life for people to play through on their own.
You might not know it if you’re not much of a gaming enthusiast yourself, but online slots account for some of the biggest business in gaming, and one of the bigger gaming categories that has yet to make real noise in VR. But the truth of the matter is that the fundamental operation of these games is quite simple from a technological perspective — and that’s according to the gaming sites themselves. Gala Spins’ how-to-play slot machines article outlines how today’s internet slots run on Random Number Generator software and pre-determined conditions regarding how likely a player is to earn his or her money back. These features are easy enough for developers to build into VR experiences, at which point it’s a matter of crafting enjoyable experiences. And this is where the excitement lies. Online slots have become a thriving, lucrative category because they’ve embraced settings, characters, and generally appealing audio and visual content. VR, in theory, could take all of this to the next level to produce the same gameplay in even more appealing and immersive forms.
Second-Life Social Networks
The notion of social networks in VR has been batted around for a while, and there are some interesting early examples already. But it’s the combination of this idea with gaming content that could represent an exciting step in the next evolution of the medium. “Second-life” games have always been popular, and are effectively social networks unto themselves already. With the same concept brought to life effectively with VR technology, it’s easy to imagine record-breaking hours of gameplay being logged by players. Whether we’re talking about a Sims-like imitation of real life, a Warcraft-style fantasy realm full of missions, or anything of the like, this sort of game would likely be a hit if done well.
First-Person Character Experiences
Perhaps in relation to the idea of known fictional worlds being brought to life, improving VR is also likely to bring about some fascinating first-person character experiences. This is something that’s already been tried, with mixed results at best. For instance, The Verge wrote about an early Iron Man game that gave players “near-complete freedom to soar through the skies.” That’s a thrilling concept, and yet the final thing still served a great deal of disappointment in execution and gameplay. Nevertheless, it’s easy to imagine better versions of this idea being at the heart of VR improvement. That could mean embodying Iron Man, wielding Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber, playing as James Bond, or any number of other exciting ideas.
In short, VR still has a lot of avenues for improvement and is likely to pursue some of them in the coming years. The medium has already gotten much better than it was when it debuted and is nowhere near its potential peak.