According to IDC’s regular VR report, “Worldwide Quarterly Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker,” 8.1 million people will own a virtual reality headset by the end of 2018. This figure is expected to grow to 39.2 million headsets by the end of 2022, explains the analyst firm, “representing a five-year CAGR of 48.1 per cent.”
The bulk of VR headset sales so far have gone towards the HTC Vive, Sony’s PlayStation VR, and the Oculus Rift. The common thread between all three? That they are all focused on gaming. As gamers continue to turn to the new tech as a new way to play, many have wondered whether there are limits on how VR can improve or positively impact game genres.
In the world’s most popular MMOs (massively multiplayer online games), to hang out with your fellow fans, you’ll type in text chat, screech over mic or, if you’re feeling especially silly, you’ll spam a few emotes. MMOs are incredibly social experiences, but the ways of expressing this social side are often very limited. You go on epic quests together, but what happens if you just want to hang and have money?
With that in mind, the MMO game genre is an obvious genre that VR headsets can improve. Social VR spaces such as vTime and Rec Room promote themselves as hangout spaces where you can just chill and chat as your avatars sit by the campfire, or play ping pong, disc golf, or paintball while you wind down from a tough raid.
VR Board Games
There are plenty of video game adaptations of traditional board games, from the online version of Monopoly, UNO Online, and Battleship. However, these often fail to capture the feel of tension and competition you get from playing a board game in person. It’s hard to convey the table-flipping frustration at a sunken ship when you’re only accessing the board on a computer screen.
VR headsets could improve the immersion of board games and table games. And it’s not just the classics you played in your youth, either. All kinds of tables games, including William Hill’s table games like roulette and blackjack would be able to benefit. Imagine taking a sly peek at your cards in blackjack as you plot your next move. Or, imagine watching the ball spin around a 3D roulette wheel in first-person, as you cross your fingers it lands on your selection.
How Else Might Devs Adapt?
The above genres are just a couple of suggestions on how the virtual reality games industry may expand next. But they aren’t the only avenues that could be lucrative for developers. According to a recent report by CNBC, VR arcades are set to be the next big thing. This is apparently in response to the fact that younger gamers cannot afford pricey VR tech. As such, more casual game experiences could take off.
However the VR industry ends up growing, the stats highlight the fact that many will be watching to see what happens. Let’s watch.