We’ve all seen articles around the web claiming that ‘Virtual Reality is dead’, but is it really dying, or is it going ‘underground’?
No, Virtual Reality isn’t dying, but it’s thriving in places you probably didn’t expect. Look up the state of VR on the internet and you’ll be faced with a whole host of articles writing it off. But what you’ll find is that these opinions are focused solely on VR home gaming, forgetting to mention the rest of the industry entirely.
I do support many of the points made on why people think VR gaming at home is dead, but to say that virtual reality as a whole is dead is not true.
Companies around the world still sees VR technology as a powerful tool to advertise their product and experiences. Why? The reason is simple: It’s immersive, it’s fun, and the technology is very attractive to the average person.
Ubisoft, famous for their Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry and Tom Clancy’s series games, published a few VR experiences to advertise their upcoming games.
The Void partnered with Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB to create multiple short Star Wars VR experiences to advertise the upcoming Star Wars movies.
Kentucky Fried Chicken created a very bizarre and fun employee training game which boosted their publicity with the online press and gaming community.
And closer to home, Holdens recently worked with Cartmel Priory to debut their first VR experience to attract new visitors. The VR experience ‘The Young Martyr’ takes you back to 1537 when King Henry VIII attempted to destroy the priory, and has been featured on BBC Songs of Praise, BBC Radio Cumbria and local news.
Moving away from gaming
Outside of gaming and entertainment, VR is growing in popularity in unique ways. Home VR experiences are out, and companies are utilising the immersive technology to provide innovative training and experiences that are less entertainment and more education.
NASA started training astronauts since 2015 using VR experiences.
UPS uses VR to train new student drivers to spot road dangers ahead of time.
Walmart has used VR to train their employees on how to handle different situations during the Black Friday rush.
Manchester Metropolitan University’s faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care has even recently started testing and implementing affordable nursing training solutions using VR technology.
So, what is killing VR at home?
The question is, why isn’t VR in every household yet?
There are a few major problems that current day home VR users face, and some that occur even before touching a VR headset.
VR headsets are expensive to own and run. Both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are still to this day very expensive for a normal household – the cheapest option today is Sony’s PlayStation VR, but even that could set you back around £330. Couple that with cumbersome cables, lack of space, an absence of good VR games and the dreaded threat of VR sickness, and it’s not really looking good, is it?
The road ahead
So, where does that leave us? While it’s safe to say that there’s a long way to go before Virtual Reality goes mainstream in the home, VR will continue to thrive in these underground experiences that break out of the typical gaming and entertainment sphere. Commercially, VR is growing in popularity and offers customers an immersive experience they’ve not had before.
For developers, the upcoming changes to Unity and Unreal engine means it would be easier to create beautiful games and experience. I have high hopes for Unity 2018 and I’m excited to see where VR takes us in the future.