We’re on the cusp of a massive shift in how entertainment, work and frankly our everyday lives will be experienced. This has been known by VR enthusiasts for some time now, but the tide is starting to change. We’re no longer just talking about a small group of evangelists talking about VR; things are finally going mainstream.
In the last couple of months, there’s been a rapid increase in the coverage of virtual reality in the mainstream media, and we’re finally getting some concrete answers about the upcoming hardware and what to expect from the software. People are starting to notice and people are starting to care.
HTC has been touring the United States with several trucks loaded with Vive headsets, letting the public try the kits out for themselves. Just this week, a new experience cropped up to coincide with the release of Paranormal Activity. Lucky (well… “lucky”) moviegoers at a handful of US theatres were given the opportunity to somehow not pee their pants while roaming through a scene in VR based on the new horror flick.
Sony showed off its PlayStation VR at a handful of events in the last few months, including Paris Games Week which is just concluding. There, the company had eight different games available to try, some of which had never been shown before. Sony really built up the hype around its upcoming platform.
I think it’s funny that we’ve seen more VR-specific content for PlayStation VR than either the HTC Vive or Oculus’s more well-known Rift. Sony is really embracing VR in a big way, and despite being the third headset that will be available to consumers, the PSVR is shaping up to be the one to watch out for. Both myself and fellow contributor Jake Carewick have had the pleasure of trying out each of the Playstation VR, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift systems, and we both agree that PSVR could be a serious contender.
During Paris Game Week, Sony made some pretty significant announcements. It revealed a number of titles that will be coming to the PSVR in the coming year, some of them VR-specific games like Crytek’s Robinson: The Journey and the eSports-centric RIGZ: Mechanized Combat League, which pits players in mechs with heavy arsenals against each other as they try to to score points like basketball. It’s hard to describe, but the way Sony presented it at the conference, you can tell it’s going to generate some serious excitement.
Some of the experiences that were announced are just adding support to games that will be playable without PSVR. Gran Turismo Sport is one of those announcements and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve long been touting simulation games as the perfect match for virtual reality. Simulations by nature are already trying to mimic the real world in the best way that they can. Adding virtual reality to a first person experience is always going to be more immersive, but one of the challenges with VR is virtual locomotion and your perception of movement in game. In a seated experience with a wheel, you are naturally grounded to a realistic experience making it all the more believable and natural. DriveClub was also showing off a build of the game running in VR on the Paris Game Week floor, but it is just in the experimental phases and may not come to market this way.
We’re also seeing some big investments in VR from capital investment firms and high profile companies. Just recently news broke that Magic Leap, a secretive company developing some sort of AR technology that has been kept very much under wraps, has already received more than half a billion dollars in funding lead by Google (not its financial arm) and is well on its way to top $1 billion in invested funds. We’ll be hearing more from this company in the near future. Magic Leap’s CEO just told the Wall Street Journal that his company is gearing up to ship “millions of devices” from its production facility in Florida.
Even old fashioned paper media is embracing virtual reality. The New York Times will be sending out over 1 million Cardboard viewers to subscribers in the coming weeks and going forward the news outlet will be making periodic content that can be viewed in 360-degrees.
My friends, the world is about to change. If you haven’t experienced virtual reality yet in some form or another, you have no idea what you’re in for. This is truly a paradigm shift. There hasn’t been this kind of new medium in a generation or more.
There are a lot of naysayers out there. Plenty of skeptics who look back at the past attempts at virtual reality and think it can’t happen. That it’s a fad. It’s destined to fail. I say to you now; that couldn’t possibly be further from the truth.
Now is the time for VR to shine. The hardware is ready. Software is showing its promise. The minds working in this industry have their creative juices flowing; for some, more than ever before. Talk to anyone who’s working on developing games for VR, or anyone working on peripherals for virtual reality and you’ll see passion like you’ve never imagined. This medium just ignites people’s spirits. This isn’t going to happen; it is happening now.
2016 is going to be such a landmark time in human history that people will look back at this era for generations. Imagine what it was like to be alive when the first photograph was taken, or when the first video was shown, or when the color television was first invented. Even the advent of the Internet, which has arguably changed to world for the better in the most measurable ways, doesn’t hold a candle to what VR can do. I truly believe that virtual reality has the potential to cause a bigger shift in how the world operates than anything that has ever come before it.
You may not feel this way yet, but I feel humbled to be around in this day and age. I feel honored to be able to experience this new technology as it unfolds, and I feel like I’m playing a role in history by reporting everything I can about this exciting new technology. Virtual reality has me excited like nothing I can remember. I can’t wait to see how mainstream consumer VR shapes the world.
If you are in the Winnipeg area, make sure you come down to Central Canada Comic Con today! We’ve got a special VR Experience zone at BaseLAN 29 sponsored by AMD, with no less than four Oculus Rifts for people to try. No purchase necessary beyond the day pass to C4. We’re also giving away an amazing AMD-based gaming rig ready for 4K gaming and virtual reality. Come check out the event for more details!
Kevin Carbotte is a Contributing Editor for aybonline.com. He knows a little about a lot, and a lot about a little. The opinions in his columns are his and his alone, but you are free to have them.