As technology improves and innovates, the reality surrounding us is becoming more and more mundane and less adventurous.
With the rate at which the younger generation takes refuge in the excitements of a virtual sphere, it’s no surprise that virtual reality is gaining momentum like never before. Trade pundits and market analysts are unanimously pointing to the trend that virtual reality isn’t going to remain a niche phenomenon any more. Soon it will become a mainstream event, and this possibility is prompting all big players of the cyberworld to come up with their own VR ventures. As per the overall estimates by KZero, the virtual reality market should hit $7 billion by the time we reach 2018.
The big players
Virtual-reality headsets are on the rise, with Facebook out front after its purchase of Oculus VR last year. But the Oculus Rift isn’t the only option out there anymore. And while Facebook’s likely desire is for the headset to become an interactive display for its 1.3 billion subscribers, virtual reality can also project itself as the next-gen social networking platform.
Facebook may have the hottest headset, but Samsung isn’t far behind with its Gear VR, which works with smartphones and is wireless — giving it the potential to dominate mobile gaming. A Newzoo report shows that out of the estimated 1.2 billion gamers across the world, 78 percent play on phones or tablets. Sony has its Project Morpheus, which is an interactive and immensely powerful virtual-reality headset made exclusively for the PlayStation 4. And Google with its set of specs that turns mere cardboard into a virtual-reality experience.
We have always been VR fans
Virtual reality, at least at a conceptual level, has never been alien to us. People have written sci-fi stories involving virtual worlds for decades.
The idea of a world that a god-like supercomputer runs has always fascinated us, like the hugely successful Matrix trilogy. And we’ve been into helmet-mounted displays as well; Ivan Sutherland was the first person ever to create a three-dimensional stereoscopic helmet-mounted display, which was popularly known as “The Sword of Damocles.” The core idea was to use a visual platform in the form of a display to make the human and nonhuman worlds coincide to each other. That was, more or less, the beginning of what would slowly turn into the realm of VR gaming.
We are not going to stop
Yes, this is going to be the motto for years to come as more and more VR gamers enter the scene. We’ll look back at 2015 as the dawn of the VR gaming era.
Eve Online publisher CCP designed a virtual-reality demo that kept the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2013 enthralled and eventually won several accolades. It would become Eve: Valkyrie, and it used the Oculus Rift headset. The success of the prototype at E3 helped Oculus gather unprecedented mileage — and sell 60,000 headsets. This was precisely the time when Facebook noticed the immense potential of Oculus and subsequently bought it for a whopping $2 billion, and Oculus obtained a potential user base of 1.3 billion from the massive social network.
It has been long since the acquisition has happened, but Oculus has not yet launched in a commercial arena. As of now, the company has not made an official announcement of a possible release date, but when it hits, it’ll create a great impact in the gamer’s circuit, especially among those who are eager to dive into the VR market.
We mentioned Sony’s upcoming Project Morpheus. Like Oculus, it is also not going to see the light of the day any sooner, but this does not mean that the PlayStation maker’s aspirations have reduced an iota. But Sony does not want it to see it only as an instrument to play VR games. Rather, it’s thinking a step ahead and projecting it as a holistic sensory experience. In terms of completion, the latest disclosure from Sony is that it has achieved almost 85 percent of its development. Sony has no release date for this product, but whenever it is going to be launched, it’s not going to cost $1,000.
And then there’s Samsung. While it’s under development at the same time as the Rift and Morpheus, the Gear VR headset fits over a Galaxy Note 4 smartphone and can use its video screens. The good thing with Samsung is that unlike Oculus and Morpheus, it’s already out.
In a few years from now, gaming is set to go wild thanks to evolving virtual-reality gadgets and game engines. This fast-changing game development scene will enable gamers to break all constraints of movement while guiding their avatar through a virtual environment — something that could make gaming better for everyone.
Keval Padia is the founder & CEO of Nimblechapps, a fast-growing mobile-game development company. The current innovation and updates of the field lures him to express his views and thoughts on certain topics.