Has VR’s time finally arrived?

Posted on August 08 2019

IT has come and gone a number of times but the people presently creating virtual reality games are convinced that its time has finally arrived.

The resounding proclamation from the industry is that “the technology has finally caught up.” While Oculus and HTC Vive have shown a lot of promise in home gaming, the commercial market is a very different one with a number of big players eager to make their mark.

“I don’t think it has so much come and gone, as its just taken a long time to get to a place, from a technological and economic standpoint, for wide-scale deployment," said Mary Jesse, chief strategy officer for VRstudios, which manufactures VR technology for the commercial side. 

She believes that the jump in technology over the past ten years is the reason that VR's time has come. "The billions of smart phones out there now and the technology that they inspire has really helped to get VR over the hump," said she. 

The main issue is - and the reason it has neevr been particularly prolific to date - is that it takes a lot of ingenuity to make a system intuitive enough for a player to step into and immediately know how to use it. Anything short of instant understanding just isnt good enough. If a player pays USD50 for a 30-min session & it takes them half that time to figure out how to operate the system, they are unlikely to fork out that money a second time around. 

This is why VR has advocated developing the commercial experience and player intuition and then offering a lot of very short experiences. "Our systems are designed to get people in, and get people out as quickly as possible. So a lot of our installations are running five-minute experiences," says Ron David, the company's chief marketing officer. "We set up one of these systems at a show in Seattle last year & within twodays we had run 500 people through the game. That's the kid of turnover our system can manage," he said. 

The company puts this quick turnover down to its wireless headsets , which it believes is the natural progression for the technology. The company supplies to a lot of cinemas, which seem to be jumping on the offering. Several major movie houses have looked at implementing their own IP into an arena scale VR experience. The misstep that many operations seem to be making is attempting to employ VR intended for home gaming in their sites. Many with their fingers on the pulse of this industry say that this is a mistake. Certainly the speed at which VRstudios turn customers around is not possible with this kind of gaming. Home gaming, by its very nature, is designed to go an as long as possible, by giving players a lot to wotk with and many situations to figure out. The assumption is that because they are at home, they will have the time to do this. 

VR Manufacturers are currently working on a VR offering that tries to offer a format acceptable to all kinds of operators. VR Manufacturers are working on solutions to the 'capacity' issue that currently exists with VR set-ups in an FEC or Park setting. They agree that repeat play, duration, long set-up times, & game exit procedures are big drawbacks and these are challenges which affect 'capacity', which in turn drive the economics. 

Certain VR suppliers say that it is crucial for developers to think about how they want to adjust their flow so that a consumer can see the value of the experience. When people are at home, they have the luxury of spending as much time as they want in learning the mechanics, but in an arcade it should be more intuitive and immediate. VR suppliers are now working directly with developers for redesigning VR experiences specifically for out-of-home VR gameplay. 

Certain VR manufacturers are creating first-time VR experiences that combines real-time media with gesture interactivity and dynamic motion from a robotic arm. The siginificance of all these elements coming together is that for the first time, users can control every element of their VR journey, including the motion profile, to make each experience unique. 

Sourced from : Intergame Magazine, Ian Donegan.