Escapism is one of the most often quoted reasons for why ‘gamers’ (if there is such a thing) play games. It’s also one of the biggest perceived dangers by those who don’t quite get what computer games are all about. With Virtual Reality poised to hit the market in a big way for the first time, do we need to be concerned that it will open the door to more stories of children forgetting to eat and sleep, or should we let ourselves get excited about the possibilities this new experience could offer?
Next is HTC and Valve’s Vive, which arrives in May for just under £750. It might sound like a steep price compared to the other two, but from what we can tell so far the Vive is made for much more full-room experiences, compared to the sit-down-and-move-your-head approach of the other two. On the software side it’s more limited compared to the Oculus, but the potential of everything Valve could bring to the table shouldn't be underestimated.
Finally there’s Sony’s PlayStation VR, coming in October, which may be a draw for current PS4 owners - though not bundling with the mandatory PlayStation camera could be seen as a bit of a ploy to make the price point seem more reasonable than it actually is. Sony has painful past experience of pitching their hardware at too high a price point (step forward the PS3) and so appreciate how important it is to get it right. That said, the camera is only £39.99, so you can get both the headset itself (£349.99) and the camera for under £400.
Of course, for the Oculus and Vive at least, you need to factor in the fact that you’ll need a very strong computer to run the hardware in the first place.
So it all sounds very futuristic and interesting, but does anyone actually need one? With all three companies putting their weight behind the technology with some serious investment, it definitely looks like we will see a lot released this year, and that competition is good for consumers.
The immersion is really the biggest draw, which is why the risk of the media flying off the handle is so much higher than it is in traditional gaming. The perception of gaming as an industry has improved in the last few years as its appeal has broadened, particularly in the mobile sector, but the stigma is far from gone, and the last thing we need is a story of someone who doesn’t know when to switch off overdoing it and spoiling the fun for everyone else. Hopefully, the copious health and safety warnings which are sure to be found in games’ start up screens will help to remind everyone to be sensible.
Chances are, you’re currently in one of three camps:
In all of these instances, if you aren’t quite sure, a ‘wait and see’ approach might be best this time. E3 will be right in the middle of all the VR excitement kicking off, and that will give a better idea of how the future software for each is looking, and by then those pesky, early teething problems will probably have been sorted as well.
Where are you leaning at the moment? Will you be shelling out some cash? Is it an optimistic one for the Christmas list? Let us know in the Forums.