Sometimes in this social media world of ours people seem more concerned with avoiding a hype train than actually wanting to be part of something cool. But there are so many great things happening in the world of VR right now from price drops to awesome new AAA games. With this in mind we have collected some of the best VR news stories sure to inspire you to hang motivational cat posters, or share dog memes on your Facebook feed or whatever you crazy kids are doing these days.
Gear VR is on a trajectory to match the original iPhone and so is Google Daydream
My buddies in the “serious gaming” camp might think of mobile VR as a bit of a joke but new technology always benefits from mainstream recognition. With over 5 million units shipped at the end of 2016, Gear VR sales figures show it picking up pace in much the same way the original iPhone did (see below), and we all know how that story ended, or more accurately didn’t end. Now everyone’s favorite “If anyone can save us it’s them” company, Google, have stepped up to the plate with a brilliant mobile device of their own. With a simple low cost design and a well stocked app store, Googleȍs Daydream has already overtaken the HTC Vive in sales since its November 10 launch, with 14 million expected to be sold by 2020. As much as the serious gaming community might hate it, it took mainstream games like The Sims to ensure the profitability of the industry as a whole, and we need things like the Gear VR and Daydream to make sure the world knows VR is here to stay.
Wireless is on the Way
Room-scale VR is just awesome, seriously it’s like the hip new designer drug all the cool kids are taking. But like any drug at some point reality sets in and you get a hangover. This happens in VR anytime things are slightly glitchy or you bump into something in the real world. While the glitches are patched now and people have learned the hard way to move their coffee tables there is still one problem we cant avoid, the electrical tether. You can tie the cable to the roof or learn techniques to avoid getting strangled but what we really need is complete freedom of movement. Early news about Wireless VR was rather disappointing, they said it was not possible or how MIT had rigged some brain cancer causing Tesla Coil that needed line of sight. But a few clever companies saw a demand and have somehow already got working prototypes and release dates! Prices are high and battery life is short but if you have the money very soon you will be able to spin in virtual circles to your heart’s content.
New Technology and Price Cuts are Making VR More Affordable
For a while there computer development got really slow. Processors hit the ‘thermal wall’, a physical limit of silicon technology that stopped speed increases dead at around 4GHz. Now the size of the transistors (tiny electronic switches) in computers is starting to approach the size of the actual molecules they are made of, holding up efficiency developments. These hurdles disrupted R&D for a while but things are picking up again. Intel has had no competition in the gaming space for a long time and this has made them lazy but AMD is about to deliver a wake up call. As of writing AMDs powerful new Ryzen CPUs are not even out yet but Intel is already scared enough to start dropping prices. On the Video card side NVIDIAs 10 series debuted with such incredible efficiency that laptops are finally as powerful as desktops. No, I’m serious this time, really, they can even easily run VR. But that wasn’t enough for NVIDIA, they had to go and release an even more powerful card, the GTX 1080 Ti, dropping the price of the GTX 1080 in the process. All these powerful new microchips will put downwards pressure on hardware prices across the board. Combine this with the release of PSVR, Oculus slashing prices and HTCs payment plan for the Vive and it looks like 2017 might just be the year everyone can afford to get into VR.
The Content is Getting Really Serious
And lastly we have what many people seem to think is the big elephant in the room, content. Proponents of VR already know how serious the content is getting. Simmers are happily spending hours piloting helicopters and WW2 fighters, racers are running laps around the Nurburgring and space pilots are exploring a computer generated version of the milky way so accurate it predicted the earth sized planets NASA recently discovered. This year has already seen the release of a Resident Evil game in VR, a brilliant new strategy game, and the first AAA VR title, Robo Recall. One of the most promising VR studios Gunfire Games (Chronos, Dead & Buried) have revealed their next project is a kind of first person multiplayer FTL that looks amazing. VR films are starting to become something more than 360º videos and artists are creating content that would not possible in any other medium. The launch catalog for Oculus and Steam VR may have been full of glorified tech demos but if you picked one of theses systems up today you would find a plethora of content awaits you. Many VR users find themselves enjoying things they never though would interest them in a million years, while others are discovering it can have a positive impact on their body and mind.
This is the effect VR has, on both consumers and developers. The experience is so dramatic that for everything you might expect, you are bound to find something you didn’t. And the Virtual world has only just been born, it’s in it’s infancy and needs our support. Don’t let the bad news get you down, don’t bet against VR just so you can say “I told you so”. Be part of something great.