Virtual Reality (VR) : Where is VR Gaming at in 2017 ?
TerseInfo: Ever felt like ‘building castles in the air’ when thinking about owning a high-end VR gaming setup? You are most probably not alone, at least, yet. Learn about the State of the VR Gaming markets and see if developments coming down the line may place your ‘castle’ in your living room perhaps.
Virtual Reality is offered in two mediums. Tethered and Mobile. Tethered VR is for consoles and PCs. Mobile VR is for smartphones.
Tethered (Wired) VR Gaming: The high times.
Being in the experimental works for as long as nearly 70 years(dating back to 1930’s), VR was destined to find its territory in the gaming industry. And it did, in 2014, when Oculus™ launched their ‘Rift’ VR headset commercially, in the PC turf. Oculus Rift was successful in finding an initial market due to its plug-and-play compatibility, truly a pleasing dream come true for the gaming and developers community. But the outreach was not as high as mainstream Console and PC gaming platforms like PSN(Playstation Network) and Steam, respectively. Currently, Rift’s price has dropped a bit and is selling at 598$ in the U.S., without any official launch(yet) in India. Oculus is currently catering to a niche audience and is certainly not the hottest choice.
Later, HTC partnered with Valve Corporation (developer of Steam platform) and produced a new one-of-its-kind VR headset called ‘HTC Vive’. Vive was launched in 2015 with a wide variety of SteamVR games which are competitive AAA titles. Vive comes at a low, low price tag of (drum rolls, please!) – 800 $, that’s if you are in the United States. HTC Vive recently was made available for pre-order in India at a whopping 92,990 INR on Amazon.in (40K more compared to U.S !). It is certainly targeted towards the ‘enthusiast’ category of the gaming community.
Click here if you dare to take a look at the listing.
Here’s the catch:
The prerequisite for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive – a VR compatible High-end Gaming PC, which itself costs around 1300 $(around 80000 INR) and importantly require adequate computer knowledge to work out the kinks involved in setting up the VR System. Thus, making the immersive experience far from mainstream.
Sony PlayStation enters the ring!
In 2016, Sony brought cheers to the console gaming community with their wide-scale incarnation of VR experience. Presenting you, Sony Playstation VR. It was launched as an additional add-on for the PS4 users to enjoy the immersive experience of VR gaming. It is comfortable to handle with less baggage compared to a ‘Rift’ or a ‘Vive’. PS VR currently has all the popular gaming titles in VR and can emulate most non-VR AAA games, making it a lucrative deal.
PS4 VR bundle is selling at 500$ (with accessories), at 41,199 INR at Amazon.in. In this Scenario, the price is justified (comparing to the U.S), hence making itself a clear choice for VR gaming right now.
Image Source : tom’s Hardware
Mobile VR Gaming: The Flavors.
Since 2014 , Mobile VR headsets paved their way into the market for Smartphones, based off on ‘Google Cardboard™ technology. They function in a wireless mode providing a much simpler solution at minimal cost. The 2017’s range includes Google’s Daydream View (79$), Samsung’s Gear VR(130$) and Xiaomi’s Mi VR(15$). Each of these headsets is useful to experience 360-degree videos and working with Apps & Games in Virtual Reality on a smartphone.
Mobile VR provides a sort of ‘trail-version’ experience of Tethered VR Headsets, so to speak. There are some limitations compared to Tethered VR.
What’s Down the Line?
Microsoft partnered with hardware vendors to develop Windows 10 Holographic VR headsets; In all likelihood, expected hit town later this year. The recent Windows 10 Creators Update has introduced some VR features into the operating system. These headsets will use outward-facing sensors for motion sensing. So they won’t need external cameras or sensors like the Rift, Vive, and PS VR. Microsoft is targeting a price of 299$ for launching them.
DisplayLink XR and TPCast are working to emulate tethered into wireless virtual reality with minimum latency. Furthermore, the current fit of VR headset manufacturers are trying to push the limitations of Display Resolution, Audio Output Route, New Controller Systems and adapt to the latest generation of computing hardware. With so many products at development, the forthcoming for VR gaming are enticing, to say the least.
When the cost of production reduces for these advanced technologies, only then it will become the norm. Until then, VR Gaming(Tethered) is purely for enthusiasts.
I, personally feel, the VR gaming experience is well-worth exploring. It has the potential to re-define the perspective of things as closer to the reality as possible. What do you think? Which VR gaming option would you opt for in the current market? Let me know in the comments section below.