After 8 years attending GDC, this one felt different, potentially a turning point for the industry with VR dominating the show. It's a new tech that many still haven't tried, and there are so many talking points to cover. Here is my roundup.
- 12 months ago VR was the domain of hackers, sticky tape and cardboard. This year it stole the show with Oculus, PSVR, NVIDIA, AMD, Steam VR, Epic, Unity, Crytek, Amazon all having lots to talk about and display (much behind the scenes)
- Those in VR are 100% convinced it is the next big thing. Those who aren’t are 100% convinced it is just another gimmick that will get some attention then fade away like 3D TV or Wii remote controlled games. Which camp are you in?
- VR is pushing a lot of tech forward, engines and GPU appear to be most excited about this (more sale opportunities!). Great for gamers and developers with CryEngine the latest to go free
- Surprisingly almost all demos on the GDC floor were done using HTC Vive Pre. Is this because not many have their hands on the latest Oculus Rift, or because this is the preferred headset? Everyone does however agree that roomscale VR is kickass despite the large requirements to get it setup
- Tons of fringe companies are making VR hardware and accessories. Demos are generally awesome like Manus VR Glove, Leapmotion, Nod, Omni, but they are all optional (expensive) extras looking for content partners. How will they compete with the controllers that ship with the headsets, which are also awesome and what developers will be building support for. There will be a lot of consolidation and disappointmentt in this space. Game developers you maybe able to negotiate good deals to build content for these companies
- VR experiences have scaled back bigtime. A year ago VR was all about rollercoasters, flying sims and first person shooters. People have learnt these games are not great in VR, and are tailor making their games to work with the hardware. Some cool ideas emerging as a result like Chronos where your head is the camera
- Everything in VR remains a short-lived experience with plenty of wow factor but limited replayability. Don't expect anything like CS:GO or Skyrim just yet, which you come back to daily
- Hilarious watching people play horror in VR such as Paranormal Activity. Players walking around a haunted house, then freaking out and tearing off the headset and screaming when it gets scary happens frequently. VR really heightens the experience
- The Walk VR is an example of immersion that only VR can provide. It is terrifying stepping out onto a tight rope 94 stories high, as you learn about the historic 1974 WTC walk and attempt it yourself
- Giant VR demonstrates how powerful VR can be in conveying a message. When the floor rumbles and the sirens sound as the bombs get closer and closer to your shelter, this is VR simplicity at its best
- Augmented Reality is about 2 years behind VR, but it’s application is boundless. Meta and Hololens are now opening up to 3rd party creators and it will be interesting to watch the results
- If you are not already in VR, a lot of the low hanging fruit has already been taken. You have missed the buzz and are probably better served playing it like EA and waiting to see what occurs in the coming years
Just like social and mobile games before it, VR is sitting atop the hype phase. The potential is boundless, everyone is excited and the next 12 months will be telling once hardware starts shipping to consumers. Ignoring the price and long wait to get a headset, are you excited for VR once it becomes more accessible, or do you remain sceptical?