Virtual Reality has been available for gamers for the past five months. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are out on the market, and PlayStation VR will be released this October. So far we have seen a lot of virtual experiences released for PC, but few full-fledged games. This new gaming platform is in its early days, and developers are trying everything they can to see what works. We have been getting some cool and weird experiences for VR because of this, and I think this is great. While full-length games are the key for VR to have any staying power in the gaming industry, it is these small, quick experiences that will get gamers invested in the first place.
First off, these experiences are a great way to introduce people to the concept of virtual reality. Virtual Reality is unique compared to conventional gaming. Of course, the hardware is an obvious reason for this, but also explaining a VR game to someone else. The main pull for virtual reality is being immersed in a world. It is putting on a headset and walking around in an environment. The feeling you get from being immersed in these worlds is hard to explain and makes virtual reality something that people have to try out for themselves to fully understand. And here is where the VR experience comes in. By playing these small bits of gameplay, people would be able to experience being immersed in a world and find out if they suffer from motion sickness from using the headset.
Of course, my previous point only applies to people who want to try out a VR headset first before they commit. So what about the individuals who have already bought an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive? How can these VR experiences be meaningful to them? Well for starters, these VR experiences can keep people occupied between big game release. Outside the run up to Christmas, there can be a long wait between major game releases. And by significant, I mean an AAA game. Now these waiting periods are getting smaller as more major companies are releasing their games all year round. It is during these gaps between release is where indie games pick up the slack. There are a tonne of indie released every month, making it so much easier to find something to play. Or find something to pass the time while you wait for the next AAA game.
And all of this can apply to VR experiences. While gamers are waiting around for the next big release for virtual reality, they have these VR experiences to keep them occupied. Sure these games only offer a few hours of gameplay. But with a consistent release schedule, there should be enough VR experiences on the market, so gamers don’t lose interest in VR.
But personally, the main reason why VR experiences are valuable is that they can allow people explore areas they could never reach. Imagine picking up one of these VR experiences that allowed you explore the Mos Eisley. Or take a tour of the starship Enterprise. Virtual Reality has opened the door for allowing players explore some of the iconic places of entertainment. We can now explore the interior of the Death Star or a Star Destroyer from the eyes of a Stormtrooper. It is now possible for game devs to make these quick experiences and transport us to locations from our favourite franchises. Plus, it may not be gaming related, but VR can also allow people explore places they wouldn’t be able to visit. Who wouldn’t want to see the top of Everest through a VR headset? Or better yet, walk on the surface of the moon and visit the Apollo 11 landing site.
Right now, VR is still in its infinity. Both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have been on the market since March and April respectively. Since both headsets release, there hasn’t been a system seller game released for either platform. And it is going to take some time before we see a system seller game for virtual reality. For devs, making a VR game is like learning how to make games all over again.
Every developer who makes a VR game are breaking new ground and are trying new techniques on making these games so they can find the method that works. So until we see a developer make the foundation needed to create an amazing VR game, we can make due with all the VR experiences available to buy right now.