One of the biggest challenges of buying virtual reality hardware is how quickly things are getting better. It’s something I’ve struggled with while reviewing
Is VR ready for prime time, or is it too early?
VR is in a weird place right now.
The basic hardware is now about ready for mass market, sure movement has been pretty much returned to an analogue stick but it’s much more natural than teleporting around, the games are getting there now, the physics-driven titles combine with things like finger tracking and full-body tracking are amazing.
However, price is still an issue and it’s not getting better, the above “about ready mass market” hardware is very expensive and that’s obviously ignoring the fact you need a decent PC to run it. This is a major hurdle that stops VR from taking off as it should
Facebook and Samsungs plan of trying to lure people in with mobile VR backfired, PSVR is obviously much better but it was also behind when it was new. Currently, alot is riding on the Oculus Quest.
For those who don’t know, the Quest is a standalone VR headset that plays “real VR” games It’s much cheaper than PC VR and about the same as PSVR+ base PS4 but is more “advanced” than Sony’s set up. However its basically “2nd console” money at £400. Basically at Christmas 2019 its asking the mass market to give up a Nintendo Switch, popular for its games and function for the Quest that has neither the things that made the Switch popular. Quest is currently VRs best hope to break out of the niche they have gotten stuck in.
I think 2019–21 is VR’s last chance to escape the “niche” area of gaming (VR and AR will continue being super useful outside of gaming) let’s pretend I’m in charge of Oculus, I would be trying to get MS and Sony to make the Rift the unofficial headset.
- MS isn’t currently doing VR because they are scared of pumping money into hardware that’ll sit on a shelf ala Kinect, Sony is reusing old tech to cut costs, by making their consoles rift compatible they don’t pay for hardware (which if it becomes popular can do their own premium kits) but will make money off VR games sold on their console. Good for them
- it standardises VR across consoles, which makes making console VR games easier, you know exactly what the user has. Good for devs.
- I build up a reputation with console gamers who could be tempted with an “premium enhanced” set up on PC, plus I’m making money on the hardware and as a publisher of VR games.
In its current state if you have the money to be able to pick up a decent set up and not break the bank, it’s you’ll probably be able to get your money’s worth out of it. For anyone else not in the position to just drop a grand… not so much.