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Opinion: I’m Not Buying What VR is Selling

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Jun
28

E3 2016 was a big one for many reasons, but Virtual Reality was pushed harder than anything else. From Bethesda, to Ubisoft, to Oculus, and especially Sony, VR had a heavy presence at the show. This was the big shot for many of these companies to sell VR and make everyone excited for this new concept, but for me, I'm definitely not buying it.

Interestingly enough, during the Sony press conference I was getting excited for VR. Batman, Final Fantasy XV, Star Wars, Farpoint, and Resident Evil VII all seemed like big things that I would really enjoy. I was almost being sold on the idea, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that VR underwhelmed this year.

Most VR experiences are beginning to get out of that experimental phase that we've seen for several years now, but since Sony was just coming in this year with VR, many of their games felt like glorified tech demos. Batman Arkham VR looked exciting, but ultimately it boils down to a small hour and a half experience that mostly focuses on detective mode and becoming batman. This was probably the strongest VR game at the show as well, as the others go progressively downhill. Resident Evil VII supposedly takes a graphical hit in VR and makes several people feel sick, Final Fantasy XV is a simple tech demo where you can shoot a gun at the behemoth and ride in a car, and Star Wars wasn't even playable, but it was billed as merely a "VR Mission." My point is that there is little substance to many of these "games." Farpoint seems to be the only one highlighted that has any long lasting potential, which doesn't exactly enthrall me.

Ubisoft's showing didn't impress much either. Eagle Flight looks like an interesting concept, but didn't demo well on stage. Star Trek VR looks good, but as someone who doesn't care much about Star Trek, it doesn't really appeal to me. Bethesda may have had the best showing of VR, but it's for two games that already released, Doom and Fallout, and we have no details on how these are priced, when they'll come out, what exactly they'll come out for, or if they'll even come out at all.

Another point that is keeping me away is the exclusivity of games on various VR platforms. Vive, Oculus, and PSVR all have a wide selection of exclusives, especially PSVR, and unlike a console where people often own two or three, most people will only be able to afford one VR device due to the high entry price. Many of the current PSVR games seem very much like a tech demo, whereas PC software can be more experimental and should lead to bigger and greater software. The PSVR is the cheapest though, with the other options being much higher.

Ultimately, this is the biggest factor for me: Price. PSVR is the cheapest option for VR at $399, and while this is reasonable, the fidelity takes a hit while playing in VR and has been known to cause motion sickness. The sickness issues can be solved, but the PS4 only has so much power. The rumored Playstation NEO should resolve these issues, but the cost and release of that are unknown. For all we know that system can cost another $500. Oculus and Vive are also both very expensive, $599 and $799 respectively, plus you need a beefy PC to run it. These prices don't really make it feasible for me to adopt something so early in its life cycle. VR has some incredible potential and the hardware does look really solid, but it's too early to tell where it goes, what games will be like, and when it'll actually feel worth it.

Do you agree? Are you buying what VR is selling you, or do you remain skeptical of the VR phenomenon? Let us know in the comments below.

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