Sunday, April 17, 2016

VR seems to be a disappointment

Consider that the first development kit of the Oculus Rift came out in late 2012. That means that game developers have had over three years of time to add VR support to their games. It was expected that when the Rift, and the Vive, launched, there would be a plethora of games supporting it.

Where are they?

The amount of launch titles for the Rift is pitiably small. The launch titles for the Vive is even smaller. And we are talking here about all games, not just big-budget triple-A ones.

Over three years of development time. So where are all these games with VR support?

On the contrary, many companies that initially announced VR support have abandoned it at the last stretch. Consider, for example, Doom3 and Doom4. From the very beginning id Software announced that they would add full VR support to both games, and they were working closely with Oculus to make it happen. Now VR support has been abandoned in one case, and cancelled in the other.

It seems to be that the general message from most game companies is that they will not be adding support to their existing games. And probably not even for any of their future mainstream games (ie. ones that are not VR exclusive). They are not explicitly boycotting VR (because that's not the reason behind it), but it almost feels like it. For all intents and purposes it's effectively a boycott, even if it's not deliberately intended as such.

(Why are they pretty much "boycotting" VR, you might ask? Because "it causes nausea" when VR is used in traditional games where movement is controlled with keyboard+mouse or a gamepad. At least it does so for some people. Therefore nobody can be given even the option to try. I get the impression that HTC/Valve, and possibly Oculus, have pretty much scared game developers away from adding support to existing games.)

For years I have been excited and expecting to experience VR in my favorite games. I could only imagine how it would be to experience games like Portal 2, Alien Isolation, Mirror's Edge and Skyrim in stereo vision. But now all the game developers are pretty much giving me the middle finger and are deliberately not adding support, and even canceling or abandoning the support that had already been developed. They are not going to give me even the option to try.

To me all this feels like VR has already failed. Game developers have lost interest and are for all intents and purposes "boycotting" it in practice, projects that have been ongoing for years have been abandoned and canceled, HTC/Valve is pretty much boycotting the mainstream gaming market, and the devices are humongously expensive.

If this doesn't reek of failure, I don't know what does.

(I'm not saying the VR will definitely fail. It might well not. It might become really successful. I'm just saying that so far it reeks badly of failure and disappointment. The early warning signs are there. The same warning signs as with the infamous Kinect and PlayStation Vita.)

Needless to say, all this has pretty much killed my passion for VR. If my excitement about VR was 100% months ago, it dropped like to 50% once I saw the launch prices of both the Rift and the Vive, and it dropped to less than 10% once I found out that most companies are pretty much boycotting VR, and I'm never going to experience my all-time favorite games with it (unless someone else adds the support).


  1. I believe that the reason some of those first person shooter companies pulled out is because VR is not very good for those kind of games... Just that, not that VR is bad, just not good for Doom-like games.

    Oh, have you tried the Vive? Its a game changer IMO. We will see as these get used by more and more people. I think it will make a substantial mark and have a lot of staying power. Like the automobile!

    1. Whether the Vive will be enormously successful, or whether its hype will fade, relegating it to just a vehicle simulator game accessory, is yet to be seen.

      I'm not confident that the "room scale VR" has any future, for the exact same reason that the Kinect didn't have any future and failed. You might get some decent golf game with it, but that's about it. Really don't see a plethora of triple-A games using that mechanic. (I may well be wrong, but that's just how I see it at this moment.)

      But perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel. It's possible that the Rift, and especially the PS VR, will indirectly cause the Vive to also be successful. Especially the PS VR is promoting sit-down experiences, which is the total opposite of what the Vive is promoting. The only real future I see with VR is with sit-down games.

      I just wish that game developers added VR support to all the games I love. But it seems that they won't, and that really has killed my passion for VR. At this moment in time, it's a huge disappointment.