Humans have played cards since the 9th century Imperial China, and we might keep doing it even when we upload our brains into virtual reality.
Oculus VR, the Facebook subsidiary working on the Rift virtual reality head-mounted display, is teasing a new card battler. In a message on Twitter, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey talked about a storyline in the animated Yu-Gi-Oh television program from the late 1990s that featured characters playing a magical card game in VR. Luckey told his followers that they should expect something like that but “even better.” This likely means that Oculus or one of its partners is building a VR experience where people can play something like Yu-Gi-Oh: Trading Card Game, Magic: The Gathering, or Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, the No. 1 digital card game in the world.
Publishers Konami and Upper Deck have sold more than 25 billion Yu-Gi-Oh cards worldwide since 1999, which makes it the best-selling trading card game in history, according to Guinness World Records.
On the digital side, card battlers are also growing in popularity. Hearthstone leads a $1.2 billion category on PC, smartphones, and tablets that is growing each successive year. At the same time, these games are inherently social, and that could help Oculus stitch together a community of people who wants to play cards in the metaverse.
Anyone remember the Virtual World arc of Yu-Gi-Oh? Get ready for something even better!
— Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) February 24, 2016
After teasing the idea with a Yu-Gi-Oh reference, Luckey retweeted Oculus VR worldwide studios boss Jason Rubin talking about “testing” the game. This is clearly a joke that his team cannot stop playing during work hours — and that’s one of the qualities people look for when it comes to cards.
@PalmerLuckey Excited for this announcement! One of the experiences most "tested" around Oculus Studios…
— Jason Rubin (@Jason_Rubin) February 24, 2016
Luckey also retweeted one of his followers talking about how Magic: The Gathering is an ideal fit for VR.
And a VR card game is something that could work with the Oculus Rift — especially if you combine it with the Oculus Touch handheld controllers. You could use your simulated fingers to hold your hand and shuffle your deck, and you could even see the avatar of the person across from you similar to how the Toybox demo has two people sharing the same room even while nowhere near each other in real life.
This could create a use case where you could visit with friends in VR while playing a game. You’d get to talk, compete, and even see some of their body language. And Internet-induced lag wouldn’t matter because it’s about strategy rather than twitch reflexes.
So it’s an instantly compelling use for multiplayer VR, and it’s also something that Oculus and Facebook could build a community around.