Is the Demise of VR Already Happening?
According to a blogger at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, all the stimulation in the virtual reality market could just be false hopes. The state of VR is not as rosy as it might appear; in fact, it could already be on the downward slope heading toward the same fate as 3D television and 3D movies before it.
Sure, everyone reading this article has at least a small part of xe's brain working toward the thought: "I want that. I really want that." Sure, walking around a room in an immersive video-based environment could be one of the coolest experiences in life. The unfortunate or fortunate reality though, depending on the opinion at hand, is that this is already happening. Indeed, that RPS blogger, John Walker, makes mention that everyone's mind is capable of immersing xe's self in a virtual world without the aid of 3D visuals.
Just think about it for a second. When playing a video game, is the 2D world in the screen keeping your mind from imagining the world as 3D? Does it keep you from thinking about the objects or environment "behind" you and your character? It doesn't. The 2D experience, in this sense, is good enough.
There is a separation, however, between the ideas of being good enough as a technology and being interesting to use. Good enough, regarding my statement above, contains inferences about the state of VR as we currently know it and the availability and functionality of 2D as we currently know it. The idea that your brain can create a virtual world with only the aid of your memory, imagination, and a 2D video game, is arguably impressive and certainly cost effective when compared to 3D.
On the other hand, estimates for the launch cost of Oculus Rift range from $1200 to a publicly-stated cost of $1500 from the Oculus team. If that doesn't get your veins pumping with "Seriously?" then I'm not sure what would. This price will ride atop the fact that moving about a living room will be a task in acrobatics while wearing a VR headset. Moreover, the price and need for shin guards will lead to the nail in the coffin: a lack of available games.
Virtual reality and 3D gaming will fall into its own niche for people who have the money and ambition to grab a set. There may be, at first, a number of games available for these devices, but that could soon fall to pieces. Just as 3D movies often are just converts from 2D movies (which can be great on their own), 3D games may end up as afterthoughts in a market that isn't built to support them. Individual developers may release their own gems and industry giants may show some support now and then, but most of all, there will be many more games available for the basic television and basic gaming consoles.
That's fine with this writer and appears also to be the case with Walker. Even with the spectacular demonstrations at this year's E3 such as those from Microsoft and its HoloLens on Minecraft, the gaming world will still suffer from huge up-front costs and a number of other obstacles that can't tear down the dominance that 2D gaming has already built. Even with the availability of some really cool technology, widespread 3D gaming will be an unattainable dream for the foreseeable future. Hobbyists: unite. Those with deep pockets: get to the gaming while you can. For everyone else, I'll see you back on the 2D PC.
Image courtesy of Sergey Galyonkin via Flickr