For as long as most of us can remember, virtual reality has been pipped as the next logical step in gaming. The idea of fully immersing yourself in digital worlds feels so incredibly cool. Most of us can think of a game or two that we used to play and how amazing it would be to feel more involved in that game. While VR gaming is already out there, it’s a concept that hasn’t truly taken off yet.
The likes of Sony and Meta have produced VR headsets over the years, but neither have been successful. Certainly, PlayStation VR has yet to see anywhere near the same number of sales as regular Sony PlayStation gaming consoles. Remember when it was almost impossible to find a PS5 for months? There’s never been a shortage of PlayStation VR devices. The demand isn’t there at the moment – but will it ever be? Is VR gaming doomed to fail before it ever really takes off?
We think so – and here’s why…
VR Gaming Will Always Be Impractical
What do you need to game traditionally? You either require a console with a monitor, a PC, or a handheld gaming device. All of these require minimal space and you can simply plug in and play whenever you like.
By comparison, VR gaming requires slightly more kit. Firstly, you need a VR gaming headset. Then, depending on which one you buy, you might also need some extras. For instance, if you went for the PlayStation VR headset, you’d need a PlayStation for it to work. You can already see how this becomes pretty costly. Other headsets don’t require this, but their game compatibility is much lower.
But here’s the kicker – VR gaming requires space. You need to be able to move around if you want to be immersed in virtual reality games. For some people, this simply isn’t practical. They either don’t have enough room or they don’t feel comfortable standing up and playing games with other people in the room. In theory, you could play VR games while sitting on the sofa, but doesn’t that defeat the whole point of them?
Gamers Don’t Care About Immersion
Following on from above, the lack of practicality in VR gaming stems from this focus on bringing gamers inside their favorite games. Here’s the thing; most gamers don’t care about immersion. If you ask people why they play video games, most of the responses will talk about being entertained or challenged. Gamers like having a fun hobby to do that’s relaxing – something they can sit back and do for hours with a smile on their faces.
When you look at VR, it doesn’t fit the core principles of why people game. Sure, it’s cool to be fully submerged in a game – but people don’t want this if it means sacrificing practicality. Imagine finishing a long day of work or school, and then coming home to play some games. Would you rather turn on a PC or console and sit back with a controller in your hand, or put on a VR headset and stand for the next few hours? The first option seems infinitely more attractive – and that’s why a lot of gamers still aren’t buying into VR.
VR Isn’t Worth It For So Many Games
When you actually sit back and think about it, how many games are suitable for VR? In most cases, the only games where it makes sense are FPS games. That’s where it seems slightly exciting, making it feel like you’re in a Call of Duty game shooting enemies. Another example could be racing games, but then you’d need to have a proper racing seat, steering wheel, and pedals. Exploration games may also work, but think about all the different types of games where VR simply will never take off.
For instance, you are never going to have VR sports games. Titles like FIFA, Madden, and NBA 2k are hugely popular with gamers. VR versions of these games would be stupid because it’s like you’re playing the sport, only with more restrictions. If people want to play soccer or basketball, they will go outside and do it.
There are loads of other classic games that people love playing too. Think about all the fun card games out there – like Spades or Uno. Why on earth would you invest in a VR headset just to play these fun games in an immersive setting?! It’s completely pointless, and this remark about card games also leads to another very good talking point.
You Lose Any Sense Of Portability
In recent times, portable gaming has become more and more popular. We’ve seen the birth of consoles like the Steam Deck taking PC gaming to new levels. People love being able to play their favorite games from anywhere, all on a small device. It’s why mobile gaming is super popular too – you can take out your phone and play a game whenever you need to kill some time.
Whether you’re on the bus or waiting for work to start, you can fill your game with so many fun mobile games. One of the great benefits of gaming in 2023 is that it helps you occupy spare time. You’re never bored, and many mobile games can help you learn new things or develop skills.
Unfortunately, VR gaming doesn’t fit into this concept at all. You don’t get portability with a VR headset – it’s not something you can carry with you wherever you go. You can’t put on a headset on the train and play VR games the entire journey. It almost feels as though every trend in gaming is ignored by virtual reality – it doesn’t tick any of the right boxes, which is why it’s probably doomed to fail.
Virtual Reality Is An Overhyped Concept
This may not be everyone’s opinion, but virtual reality is truly one of the most overhyped concepts we’ve ever seen. Well, in the gaming world, that is. Cast your mind back to when the first virtual reality headsets were being produced. You had things like the Oculus Rift claiming to revolutionize gaming forever. We were sold huge dreams of playing high-quality games in the most immersive way possible.
As it turns out, VR gaming is an incredible letdown. The graphics in these games are generations behind what we see in PC and console gaming nowadays. The same goes for the frame rates and smoothness of the titles. Sure, you get to be immersed in the game, but you’re in something that feels like a clunky early-era PS3 or Xbox 360 game. There’s also the awkwardness of wearing a headset and how it feels on your head – it’s super uncomfortable and many people complain of motion sickness in VR. Then, you have the weird little controller handles you have to hold, which makes the whole experience feel strange.
Overall, it’s like we were sold a dream and ended up with something not even close to what was anticipated. Does this mean there’s still hope for VR in the future? In all honesty, VR companies should move away from gaming altogether. The mere idea of virtual reality doesn’t equate with what people want from a gaming experience. Instead, this technology is far better suited to other applications – like in the healthcare world or other industries.
Make no mistake about it, there are plenty of use cases for virtual reality that look fantastic. It just isn’t meant for gaming. For that reason, VR gaming is doomed to fail before it’s even had a chance to take off.