We've been talking a lot about virtual reality lately. I've not been shy about being somewhat skeptical about how well VR will sit with your average consumer.
But even I have to admit that this short video of VR game EVE: Valkyrie is pretty intriguing:
I think small spaceships (or any kind of personal-size vehicle, really) make a perfect platform for a VR game since you don't expect to be moving around. You're just sitting in the cockpit craning your neck around and using a joystick to fly by. That's a sweet spot for VR, in my opinion.
That video was captured on the Oculus Rift Crescent Moon development headset. Oculus still doesn't have a launch date for a consumer version of the Rift so you and I won't be playing EVE: Valkyrie any time soon.
HTC is bringing the Vive (powered by Valve's SteamVR system) out this year but it sounds like it's going to be fairly expensive. A post at MCV quotes HTC's connected products marketing boss Jeff Gattis as saying:
“Starting with the premium experience, even if it has a slightly higher price point, is the right thing to do from a strategic point of view. The price can always come down as the market grows. We know there is some pent up demand there, so there’s not so much price sensitivity early on. But to get the broader consumer adoption we’re all hoping for, the industry will have to drive price down to make it more accessible.”
A price point slightly higher than what isn't clear, but what is clear is that HTC knows that there's a hardcore group of gamers dying to get their hands on VR pretty much no matter what it costs. I'm now speculating that the full Vive experience (visor, controllers and the SteamVR base stations) is going to be somewhere in the $600-$700 at launch. I'd love to be wrong but the controllers have to be at least $50 each, and if each of the sensors is $100, that leaves $300-$400 for the visor itself. I do think prices will come down quickly once Sony's Project Morpheus and (hopefully) the Oculus Rift launch in 2016.
Not all the fun stuff is going on in the land of VR. Let's not forget about Augmented Reality. We're waiting to hear more about Microsoft's HoloLens, maybe at Build in late April.
But remember Magic Leap, the super secretive start up that is also working on an AR system? They released their own video yesterday. Here it is:
Sure the game they play is fairly simple, and yes the gun is an actual prop that costs $100 but I'm sure you could play with simpler (and cheaper) guns. I actually like the idea of holding a real (fake) gun rather than some abstract controller.
I still think AR experiences like this one (and it's not clear how much of this video is real software and how much is a mockup/visual effects) will be popular with a broader range of consumers just because they aren't so isolating.
VR or AR though, the next few years are going to be a lot of fun as these technologies start hitting the market.