Thursday, May 12, 2016

VR: Is the hype dying already?

When the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift published their first final versions of their headsets almost at the same time, there were enormous amounts of hype surrounding them. You could see advertisements everywhere (eg. Vive ads were constantly splattered on Steam's front page), and every single internet reviewer in existence was making videos about them.

Of course I haven't been following the VR circles closely. I'm just a gamer who frequents Steam and semi-regularly watches YouTube gaming channels and reviews. But it seems like the hype has pretty much completely died out. Steam isn't advertising VR on their front page anymore (even the "Steam Hardware" ads, which have been there pretty much constantly for like a year, show the Steam Controller as its flagship product, not the HTC Vive; and I have yet to see a single VR game advertised on their front page), and it has been a rather long time since I last saw any YouTube reviewer talk about VR (either the headsets or any VR games).

It almost feels like a passing fad... which already passed.

Of course I'm not saying VR is dead and forgotten. Obviously it takes time for developers to make big-budgeted large games; it's not going to happen in a month or two. (Heck, it took the PS4 over a year before it started to have a sizeable library of real triple-A games made for it, rather than just ports and "HD remakes" of existing games.) However, this is what it feels like at this moment: It was a phenomenon when it launched, and now nobody is talking about it anymore. Heck, even Valve isn't advertising it anymore, for the looks of it (neither the device itself, nor any VR game that I am aware of.)

As I have written several times previously in this blog, I can't help but feel a bit skeptical about the future of VR, especially the Vive and its "room-scale VR". The experience might be "awesome" and almost religious, but if you think about the game mechanics that are possible in "room-scale VR", it seems extremely limiting. (What kind of 50-hour big-budget triple-A games do you think are possible, and will be made for "room-scale VR"? I am very skeptical of this.)

This apparent death of the initial hype, and lack of visibility (of either the hardware or the games) isn't exactly helping my skepticism.

(I am still, however, somewhat optimistic in that maybe VR will have a future. But not because of the Vive, but its sort of opposite: The PlayStation VR. The latter might be a platform for which many games will be made, and this might indirectly help the Vive. Sure, the games will not be "room-scale VR", but perhaps that's a good thing. I don't see any future in "room-scale VR". I see possibilities in sit-down experiences, which is exactly the direction that the PS VR, and the Oculus Rift, are going.)

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