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5G, AR, VR: what we know and what’s next in gaming
August 17, 2020
What’s next for video gaming’s ‘niche’ category?
Has Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) cemented its position as a gaming powerhouse? In short, not quite… For a variety of reasons, VR hasn’t yet lived up to its full potential. However, when the potential is so endless, it can be difficult to run, before you can walk.
There’s no doubt that a gaming revolution, consisting of a fully immersive virtual gaming experience, has taken significant strides since VR’s humble beginnings. Every year seems critical for VR’s economic survival, but despite the initial financial struggles, advancements made in ‘reality’ based technology show no sign of slowing down.
Has Virtual Reality hit the mainstream?
Unquestionably, 2019 has been VR’s most successful year so far. A quick glance at SuperData, a Nielson Company, shows a 41% rise in VR game sales and a 4% rise in VR headset sales from the previous year. While 4% only looks to be a modest improvement, a deeper look into the data’s details indicates a substantial change to one of VR’s biggest problems: accessibility.
Historically, VR was only for those who had a gaming laptop or console. For any consumer interested in VR, that meant huge financial commitment to a product that might have been surplus to requirements. Oculus Quest, unlike other models, needed no gaming laptop or console. Simply sliding on the equipment is about as complicated as it gets. Standalone headsets amounted to nearly 50% of VR headsets sales in 2019, up 30% from the previous year. But while standalone headset sales continue to accelerate in 2020, can even more be done to improve the accessibility of VR gaming?
How could community unlock VR’s potential?
Yokey Pokey’s potential game-changing solution reimagines the arcade experience as we know it. No headset? No problem. VR arcades offer keen gamers the chance to play VR games with the best possible gadgets at an affordable price. Generally speaking, VR arcades are not widely available but arenas that have opened suggest there is a serious desire for community-based VR gaming platforms. George Casseus, head of business development for Yokey Pokey in Brooklyn, New York, highlights a readily available community for VR gamers, stating: “Virtual reality allows for all types of gamers and all types of people who just want to have good experiences”. Does a need for community-based VR gaming further highlight one of its noteworthy downfalls?
Despite the advancements in VR gaming, one fact still remains: when you play, you play alone. Sure, ‘VR chat’ offers a fun online multiplayer option but call me old fashioned, nothing beats local multiplayer with friends and family in the same room. This is not exactly a revolutionary concept, but it’s one that VR hasn’t yet been able to grasp. Seeking to overcome these issues, Sandbox offers the opportunity for local multiplayer VR gameplay. It takes VR arcades to a new, extraordinary level. Motion-capture technology, haptic bodysuits and an immersive ‘4D’ experience allow groups of friends to play the same VR game, in the same room. Not only that, the game allows the user to choose between different worlds whilst feeling the vibrations of fake explosions and the wind upon their faces. Yet, VR arcades and Sandbox’s multiplayer experience presents the tip of an iceberg in a world of VR possibilities.
Augmented Reality, what’s possible?
Pokémon Go is proof that AR gaming can be immensely popular. As of today, AR gaming is confined to mobile devices. As mobile gaming is not seen as elite by hardcore gamers; AR currently falls into the category of ‘gimmick’ by many. However, the immense popularity of mobile gaming will not be lost on the gaming’s industry leaders who must surely realise its potential for the casual consumer. This begs the question: does AR’s real value lie in its innovative practical applications?
Inventive applications show off AR’s incredible benefits. These benefits can be applied on a worldwide scale including translating menus and road signs in real time, live interaction with architecture design – plus uses within cosmetics and fashion sectors. Leading global companies like Ikea have already created their own apps utilising the technology. This allows the user to select real size 3D images of furniture to compare in their own homes. No longer does the consumer have to use imagination when designing their latest living room or picking their next outfit, AR does it for them.
An issue AR gaming applications often encounter is the speed and efficiency of data usage. For AR apps to truly work, data needs to be rendered at the very moment of decision- making. No one enjoys lag. If both image and information is flowing without lag, a far better gaming experience is created. 5G therefore, could be momentous in our relationship with AR and gaming. If 5G can survive the conspiracy theories and supply the world’s data, AR applications could be seamless, efficient and potentially revolutionary.
Does it end with AR and VR?
The question for the foreseeable future is whether VR and AR gaming are here to stay? The answer may lay in the technology’s future evolution. VR and AR will never compete financially with traditional console-based gaming. But the unique concept offers a lot more potential opportunity than any alternative console counterpart. As VR and AR technology becomes more readily available and is used in everyday life, the more investment the technology will attract due to its popularity. The feeling that surrounds reality gaming therefore is that it’s on the cusp of greatness. The technology is there, the world need only to reach out and grab it.