“Oculus Rift @ Gamescom 2014” (CC BY 2.0) by wuestenigelIt may not have fully transformed the way we play games but virtual reality (VR) is gradually reshaping the industry. Indeed, with a study by Juniper Research showing that VR games alone will generate $8.2 billion in revenue by 2023, the market is clearly shifting.
In fact, as a testament to the ongoing evolution of VR, Oculus Rift released its S headset in spring 2019. Said to provide better graphics, smoother transitions and sleeker design than its predecessor, the product is another example of just how quickly VR tech is improving.
Oculus Rift S Becomes More Mainstream
Why isn’t the S known as Oculus Rift 2? In the somewhat modest words of the company’s VP of content Jason Rubin, Oculus Rift 2 would need radical new tech to justify that title. However, while the S isn’t the 2, it is still a gamechanger. By making the headsets user-friendly, Oculus S can be seen as a steppingstone into VR for the general public. Because everything is built in, casual users don’t have to worry about things such as positioning trackers in order to enjoy the full VR experience.
Beyond that, Oculus S features an “ergonomic halo headband” which, in theory, is designed to make the headset more comfortable. For hardcore gamers, these may be minor tweaks. However, for VR as an industry, they’re hugely important. As the general public has started to take notice of VR tech, game developers have responded. Today, the type of content available for Oculus and its peers is not only growing but diversifying to match the demands of a broader demographic.
For example, online casino games are gradually moving into the virtual space. Whether the average video gamer knows it or not, online casinos are one of the most important parts of the “gaming industry” as a whole. Worth more than $45 billion, the market caters to millions of players and each of them enjoys the competitive and entertaining aspects of gaming.
Embracing New Demographics is Crucial for VR
“Paranal tour one of many now available in VR” (CC BY 2.0) by European Southern Observatory
Take a slot such as Mega Moolah. Each facet of the game is designed to make you smile. From the 25 paylines and $1 million+ jackpots to the rush of adrenaline caused by the five spinning reels, everything is built for entertainment. This is no different from traditional video gaming. In fact, it’s this focus on fun that’s led casino developers into the VR realm. Although VR casino games are a work in progress, companies such as NetEnt and Microgaming have laid the foundations.
Through products such as VR Roulette and Gonzo’s Quest VR slots, players are starting to experience games in a new way. The knock-on effect of this is that more casino fans are able to see the benefits of VR technology. This should lead to an influx of gamers which, in turn, will increase revenue and drive product development.
Put simply, this move to embrace casual gamers and other demographics is both a positive and a necessity for the VR industry. Even though Oculus Rift S might not move the needle in terms of processing power and graphics, it will play a part in the overall growth of the industry. That, if nothing else, is why hardcore gamers should be happy it exists.