VR is in a strange state. It’s stuck somewhere between the enthusiasm afforded to the unbridled potential of new technology, a semi-competitive market with a handful of headset manufacturers, and the long-slog to mass adoption.
VR’s neither here nor there, and the big players have drastically different takes on the future of the tech.
In a recent chat with Stevivor, Xbox head honcho Phil Spencer explained VR isn’t on Microsoft’s radar . He said;
I have some issues with VR — it’s isolating, and I think of games as a communal, kind of together experience. We’re responding to what our customers are asking for and… nobody’s asking for VR.
Spencer doesn’t see the merit in investing in a tech that remains niche and isn’t all that profitable.
Sony, on the other hand, continues to go in all guns blazing with the PS VR headset and a slew of exclusive titles courtesy of heavy-hitters like From Software . We expect more of the same as the company transitions to the next-generation PlayStation 5 console.
Facebook and its controversial Oculus platform announced yesterday the acquisition of Prague-based Beat Games . The studio is responsible for the convulsive light saber-swinging rhythm game Beat Saber.
The game is arguably one of the most successful VR titles and offers an encouraging blueprint for VR exclusives.
Oculus director of content, Mike Verdu, had this to say on the news;
We’re exploring many ways to accelerate VR, and we think next year is going to be an incredible one of VR game launches and announcements. We are thrilled to have Beat Games join our team. This is just the beginning.
In tandem, Oculus has made inroads towards offering a more-affordable hardware solution such as the Oculus Go in an attempt to entice gamers.
As Xbox peers skeptically from the sidelines, Facebook and Sony are still banking on the yet-to-materialize popularization of VR. For them, it’s not a matter of if, but when.
Valve, through its association with the HTC Vive and now its own Valve Index headset, takes a different route. The company appears eager to trigger the seismic shift that will elevate VR.
In other words, VR is in desperate need of a flagship title, an uncontested commercial and critical hit, with the power to draw in skeptics and on the fencers. Valve appears all too aware of this.
With the reboot of the cult Half-Life franchise in the form of VR exclusive title Half-Life: Alyx, Valve may very well be on the cusp of endowing VR with an opportunity to reach its potential.
Nevertheless, as we wait for Half-Life: Alyx to launch next March, Virtual Reality remains stuck in cultural limbo, a technological no man’s land, shunned by some, and prized by others.