SAN FRANCISCO — You can feel the gaming industry swelling with excitement for virtual and augmented reality, but one of the top technology companies isn’t expecting massive triple-A experiences for early head-mounted devices.
Epic chief executive officer Tim Sweeney has a lot of thoughts about the future of games and beyond when it comes to VR and AR, and he shared these with us at GamesBeat 2015. One of his boldest predictions is that AR glasses with 8K and better displays will eventually replace all screens in the real world, but he also has some guesses for what the software ecosystem will look like as we start getting the first wave of Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR devices into our hands.
Sweeney believes that we’ll have a ton of very fun-but-small games to play.
“With the move to VR and AR, it’s going to be a very competitive market,” said Sweeney. “It’s going to lead to very high-quality game experiences, but that doesn’t necessarily mean huge ones.”
Sweeney noted that Epic made its Showdown VR demo with a handful of developers over 10 weeks, and Sweeney thinks that we’ll see a lot of that during the early days of Oculus Rift.
One of the big reasons that Sweeney expects small high-quality experiences is that it will take some time to build a substantial install base for VR devices. The Rift and HTC Vive will require expensive PCs to function, and PlayStation VR and Gear VR are both peripherals for devices most people are buying for reasons that have little or nothing to do with virtual reality.
Bu despite the limited audience, Sweeney thinks that the potential for VR is too compelling for creative developers to ignore.
“We’re seeing a complete revolution of the human-computer interface,” he said. “It’s going to enable completely new kinds of interactions for architects, designers, and social users.”
Sweeney says that developers can’t help but jump into something like VR because it is such a wide-open space.
“It can be hard to extrapolate through this kind of technological change,” said Sweeney. “This is not Moore’s law. This is not incremental change … It has implications for all sorts of software. Any program you’re using now will be re-imagined for [virtual reality and then] augmented reality.”