Why has VR gaming stagnated?

The concept of virtual reality has been around for a long time and taken on many different forms. VR gaming has been experimented over the years with varying levels of success, but none have truly accomplished what people expect.

In recent years, the advent of fully immersive VR headsets like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive created a lot of hype around virtual reality. Finally, with the help of advances in computer processing and graphical fidelity, people could experience a fleshed out VR experience.

This was especially true in 2015 and 2016 when the gaming and entertainment industries were prepared for VR to start dominating digital entertainment. While VR did grow, it hasn’t had the widespread domination that many expected.

There are a number of reasons for the slow adoption rate of VR headsets and this reality has discouraged some developers from continuing their support for VR in the long term. The momentum of VR has slowed down significantly and those who have invested in it are running out of things to do.

Why has VR gaming stagnated?
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One of the biggest factors is the cost of VR in general. With the best headsets costing up to and around $1000 it’s a technology that the majority of homes simply can’t justify purchasing.

While the cost of VR hardware has decreased significantly since its early days, it is still very much of an early adopter technology. Purchasing VR also means creating appropriate space in the home to accommodate its use.

Many people just don’t have the will to commit to VR, especially if they are not hardcore gamers. While many people are impressed by the novelty of the device, it’s not far enough developed to be a must-have gadget.

This is compounded by the fact that there haven’t been any real VR substitutes for triple-A video games. The most popular VR games are small, contained experiences that lack the staying power of a big studio release.

So far, VR has allowed gamers to have a 360 degree view of their surroundings but hasn’t been able to create a fluid way to move through virtual environments. Short of using some kind of treadmill system, there hasn’t been a way for people to become fully immersed in the game experience.

Many of the biggest VR games require players to either move around with a controller or use a teleportation system. Both of these movement mechanics are jarring when players are otherwise fully immersed in the game world.

This roadblock has prevented any VR games from being must-have experiences that would drive hardware sales. So far, the best VR games are short, gimmicky experiences that are unable to compete with traditional games.

VR’s low adoption rate has forced big developers to de-emphasise its importance and go back to focusing on what’s proven to work. Until VR gets its killer app it is unlikely that the technology will become the future of entertainment anytime soon.

Martin Lee Author

Martin combines his writing and technical knowledge to translate industry specific news in a way that’s digestible by a wide audience.