Ever since the first Oculus Rift development kit was released nearly 4 years ago, it seems that virtual reality has been the main focus in the gaming world. Now that the first wave of virtual reality headsets are starting to roll out, I beg to ask the question: Is VR really the future (of gaming)? The Oculus Rift certainly wasn’t the first VR headset ever made but it was the first to catch everyone’s attention. There is a plethora of VR headsets that are either still in development or are closing in on their release dates. The Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are the first and most expensive headsets to be released to the consumers. Not only does each headset range anywhere from $400 to $800, they also have to be ran through a strong enough PC or console to process the equipment. A gaming PC can range anywhere from $300 to $3,000 for a quality machine and an even better gaming experience. Given these prices, you could be spending nearly $4,000 for the best gaming and VR experience. By the time you shell out all of this money for a your setup, is it really worth it?
The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive
You could argue that the quality of the graphics from the Oculus Rift are not up to par, but you also have to keep in mind that it feels like a first generation product because it is the first real version of the product that the consumer has been able to get their hands on. If it were about the graphics of the game before the overall gaming experience, games like Fallout 4 would not be as well received because the graphics do appear to be a bit dated. However, that is not always the case when it comes to gaming. The HTC Vive appears to be the headset that gives the consumer more bang for their buck, at the high price of $800. The Vive’s graphics are a few steps ahead of the Oculus Rift but there are also requirements that come with the HTC Vive that seem to get in the way of the player’s experience. The HTC Vive has a long, dangling cord attached to the back of the headset that often times gets in the way of the player and makes the player more conscious of their mobility; and sometimes takes the player out of the experience. The Vive also requires you to set up two sensors in your gaming area, which also requires that you have a 15’ X 15’ of open space for you to move around in and become more immersed in the environment.
Sony seems to be mainly focusing on creating a more affordable VR experience. Sony announced that it has been working on “Project Morpheus,” which has more recently been named Playstation VR, at GDC (Game Developers Conference) in 2014. Now that we are closing in on the release of Playstation VR more details are being released to the public. Sony has already announced an array of games that will be ready for play on PSVR at launch, which is expected in October later this year at $400 for the headset alone. PSVR does not include the controllers that you will need in order to play with the headset, which will be another $100 for the a pair. It has also been said that Sony will be re-releasing the PS4 as the “Playstation Neo,” which will support gaming in 4k, have an updated hardware and will be released just in time for Playstation VR. Whether you have a PS4 or not, Playstation VR will cost you anywhere from $500 to $900.
There have been many trends in the gaming community lately and maybe it is too soon to tell if VR is one that will stick, but it certainly feels like VR is here to stay. A couple years ago I was completely opposed to the idea of virtual reality within gaming but, now that it is here, my opinion has slightly changed. More recently, gaming companies have started to shift their focus towards mobile gaming and VR and I feel, at times, that they are slowly trying to take the controllers out of our hands and the consoles out of our homes. But because VR is something that is so new, I am at ease that the switch from controller to VR headset is still quite some time away. We are still seeing first generation products of these headsets which are still not quite there yet. Cross platform play is something that seems to be something we will see in the near future and among all of the exclusive and non-exclusive games that are coming out within the years to come, I don’t think VR is going to be a replacement for the PC or console but a relative of the PC and console.