For the past few years, Virtual Reality gaming industry has already won significant market size and still shows fast growth rate. In the beginning, the idea of virtual reality was fascinating and a little bit fantastic. Though, as VR came true, we can all agree, it has potential to become the next “big thing”. At least, virtual reality in gaming, for sure.
Since the release of first prototypes of Oculus VR and Samsung Gear VR, the new age of virtual reality has started. In 2015 HTC has launched Vive headset, equipped with the hand controllers and tracking technology. And by the end of that year, global revenues of Virtual Reality in gaming industry reached $4.3 billion.
The year later there were 230 VR development companies, producing both virtual reality hardware and software. Based on these data and huge demand, experts predicted the 25-27% annual growth rate of VR gaming market, with total revenue exceeding $45 B in 2025.
This forecast of growth is based on the current VR game market trends:
- hardware production leaders like Oculus, HTC, Sony, Google are tending to develop more mobile and affordable VR headsets;
- new innovative technologies of the VR headset, which provide the freedom of movement and recreation of 5 basic feelings, will define the growth of VR content;
- Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony are predicted to low down the price for VR game products in the next few years.
As for the hardware shares, due to growing mobility, the amount of VR consoles sales is likely to drop (5% fall in 2017). Despite this, sales of VR headsets increased by 32% by the end of 2017. The next big leap is expected t be a standalone VR headset and appropriate gaming content.
Virtual Reality in gaming: what’s in it for business?
Initially, VR HMDs were made for entertainment, with focus on games. By 2018, Virtual Reality has stepped out and expanded to marketing, retail, military, education, fitness and healthcare. Such wide coverage definitely brings advantages both for consumers and businesses.
For consumers, VR literally expands the edges of the world and gives new options in a three-dimensional gaming environment. VR games also introduce:
- Immersive experience. Nothing compares to VR games, which not only allow to observe the game, but to get inside of it. 360-video content and dense graphics provide the feeling of presence.
- New level of interaction. The release of controllers made the crucial turn for interaction with VR surroundings. Now players can control and modify the game environment at their own will. Also, soon ultimate VR gaming experiences are going to be achieved through all human senses.
- Content. VR technology is becoming a new boosting factor in creating gaming content. Genres like shooters, adventures or simulations, got enhanced thanks to VR. The habitual role of a protagonist is gaining more value.
Now, what about business owners and advertisers? Game creators and VR hardware producers targeting Virtual Reality in gaming, and growing demand brings new potential benefits of VR gaming for business. These include:
- New experiences to attract customers. VR headsets remain quite expensive still. To overcome this, some companies opened VR game clubs or special areas at malls and business centers. This approach allows people to get familiar and try out virtual reality games, and as the end-result, potentially lead to more sales
- Loyal consumers. “It is hard to explain if you did not try it” – a frequent answer to what is virtual reality question. As soon as a person made a first try, the chances are good for him/her to become your long-term customer. Immersion, presence and new sensations of VR surely enhance gaming experiences.
- New marketing tool. In recent years, many video game storylines have been transferred to large cinema screens (Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, etc.). And, as Disney and Pixar examples show, there is a possibility for reverse interaction. Two companies created a simple VR game to promote the new cartoon, Coco. We’ll probably see more of such new marketing campaigns.
VR gaming hardware
As of today, there is already enough quantity of VR gadgets suitable for diverse audiences. More headsets are also to come. Each of the existing headset vendors is still working on improvements. The aim is to make it lightweight, ergonomic, mobile and of best immersion into the virtual. The challenges that still remain unsolved with VR hardware are:
- Freedom of movement
- 5G speed Internet (or higher)
- Quality content
- Data security
PC/Console VR headsets. These gadgets we can describe in two words – powerful and immobile. Thanks to consoles like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation, VR got mass attention. They provide high-quality display and data rate for intense and fascinating games. But the user’s movement is limited by cords and wires.
Mobile VR headsets. Virtual reality headsets for smartphones were able to tackle two issues: price and mobility. Though, unfortunately, they have weaker graphics and productivity. Hence, Samsung Gear or Google Cardboard are a good choice for simple games, with less visualization and more of moving in space.
Standalone headsets. Oculus Go and Daydream, already premiered in 2018, start the new trend of standalone headsets, which do not require PC connection or smartphones. The advanced motion tracking system and brand-new controllers will improve gaming process. Also, an all-in-one VR headset is similar in speed and quality of displayed content to mobile HMDs.
VR haptic feedback suits. Some engineers are focusing on bringing smell, taste and tactile senses into VR, alongside hearing and sight. If successful, it will for sure turn all upside down. A full body suit, like Teslasuit, would most likely offer tactile and weight simulation, temperature changing senses and new track motion system. For VR arcade games or VR shooters it would be so awesome.
Types of VR games
Most of the computer games can be successfully transformed into VR format, with new and better interaction. In 2018, due to the variety of VR headsets, new games and new content are emerging regularly. Both high-end and mobile games are pushing the boundaries of VR even further.
- First-person VR shooter games
First-person shooters (FPS) are still the most popular genre of VR games. Players experience presence on the battlefield with appropriate audio and visual escort (flying bullets, explosions, etc.). Although, shooters yet have one big problem to solve – freedom of movement, which is key for these action games.
- VR racing games
Unlike FPS games, virtual reality auto simulators do not suffer from the movement limitation. VR racing games, typically, have the advanced graphics and soon players also expect tactile experiences (e.g. the car’s interior).
- Horror games
Horror games hold a strong market position, and VR adds a new edge for the genre: the more realistic graphics – the more scary to play. High-definition VR headsets will provide more options for “creeps” – first-person perspective, 360-degree view, object-based audio, haptic feedback.
- VR adventure games
Even before VR, adventure games were one of the most popular genres. Now, with 3D detailed graphics, sensors and controllers, following the story line will probably be more interactive and fascinating.
- City-building games
Simulations and strategies had a slow start in VR gaming industry, but with new headsets and better visualization, they got a chance too. Moreover, several VR city building games were announced to be released in 2018.
- VR casinos and gambling
Online gambling has never suffered a lack of gamers and VR will only attract more. Virtual reality casinos will offer a vast assortment, including slot machines, immersive roulette, poker and other card games. Virtual casinos may even provide social interaction for players.
VR game libraries, like PlayStation or SteamVR provide hundreds of games today. When VR technology overcomes the problem of movement for players and possibly introduces all human senses, virtual reality in gaming could become as powerful as the real world gaming. In fact, the further development of VR industry will determine the direction of indie games market.