In this article, we will look at virtual reality gaming trends that are shaping the market, and we will see what changes you can expect to see in VR gaming through 2018 and even beyond.
New VR Gaming Headsets
Most articles on VR would lead you to believe that the Oculus Rift, Samsung VR, Google Daydream, Google Cardboard, Sony Playstation VR, and HTC Vive are the only VR headsets/viewers out there. While these are the platforms most-often targeted by VR gaming developers, a new breed of device is quietly closing in.
The Razor offers stereo eye tracking, superior image resolution, and immersive position tracking. Also touting impressive features, the Fove provides fee-free open-source development tools.
For those who want superior performance than that offered by Cardboard, but within a casual gamer’s budget, the Homido V2 and BOBOVR Z4 offer low-budget alternatives and markedly-improved performance.
These four devices are the result of two thought processes. In the case of the Razor and Fove, the designers wanted to offer devices that are competitive with high-end headsets on performance, but at lower price points. The Homido VR and BOBOVR Z4, on the other hand, do just the opposite — offering low-end viewers with superior performance, but at higher price points. Both trends will benefit VR gamers by offering alternatives, regardless of how much play money one has.
The trend toward knocking off gear on both ends of the spectrum will continue. The business model based on building a better mouse trap never seems to get old.
Gamers are all about the experience. To be a winner, a game must be more than exciting, it must capture the player’s imagination. If the player cannot imagine himself or herself inside the game, they will walk away faster than you can fire a photon torpedo. Unfortunately, gamers can experience traditional games only through the senses of sight and sound.
VR games, in addition to providing an immersive audio/visual experience, also engage the player through the sense of touch — touch, vibration, and full-body physical assaults, to be more specific.
The ability to let players feel the recoil of a weapon, or the blow of a sword, is called haptic feedback, and it is already shaking up gameplay for VR gamers.
Specially-designed “haptic motors”, embedded in gloves, vests, and other wearables, convert game action into physical sensations. By using a combination of motors — both large and small, haptic feedback devices can provide sensations ranging from a tickle to a sharp blow.
Haptic technology adds a powerful new feature to VR gaming. As more and more gamers get a feel for how haptic feedback enhances gameplay, it will become a standard feature in VR games.
Mobile Game Apps
As powerful as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are as VR gaming platforms, they are beyond the budget of many a dedicated gamer. Which leaves the field wide open for smartphone-based viewers such as Samsung Gear VR, Zeiss One Plus, Google Daydream View, and even Google Cardboard.
Advances in smartphone technology is rapidly closing the gap between smartphone-based viewers and high-end headgear. No longer must mobile VR game developers struggle to make games play well with existing smartphone technology. Thanks to VR-optimized phone processors, such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, phones will now provide powerful, game-ready platforms for developers to target.
There will always be a market for high-end VR gaming headsets. And there will always be a market for mobile VR gaming. For the adventuresome developer, the choice does not have to be an either-or; why not target both?
Cloud-Based VR Gaming
Cloud computing offers numerous technical and business advantages that can benefit VR game developers and players alike.
From a technical perspective, the shared resources of cloud-based platforms can render games with high quality, high frame rate, low latency, and multi-platform compatibility. Digital service providers are already offering cloud-based entertainment and gaming transport services that support 100Gbits/s data transfers. As VR game developers look for hosting platforms on which to run their data-heavy games, cloud hosting will increasingly be the platform of choice.
Cloud platforms also make good business sense. Using the Gaming as a Service GaaS model, game distributors have a range of options on how to monetize their games. From ad-supported games to pay as you play, cloud computing supports just about every pricing strategy you could think of.