Is 2020 Finally the Year Virtual Reality Gaming Hits the Mainstream?
Virtual reality gaming has come an incredibly long way in a short space of time. Back in 2016, the marketplace was estimated to be worth around $3.6 billion, but by the end of this year, it could be worth upwards of $23 billion, according to SuperData – a seven-fold increase in just four years. Despite the rise in value, 2018 actually saw a head-scratching decline in the number of VR devices and headsets sold worldwide.
Few could explain why, but 2019’s total sales of 14 million devices (according to CSS Insight) appear to have proven that the previous 12 months were merely a bump in the road. So, after a positive 2019, will the VR gaming industry cement itself in 2020 as a credible form of mainstream entertainment?
If it does, much of the credit will almost certainly need to go to Oculus, who has recently launched a new VR device at a much more realistic mainstream RRP too. The Oculus Quest was released in the second half of last year, offering an all-in-one VR gaming headset for roughly the same cost as a brand-new Sony PlayStation 5. The wireless headset and controllers give you total control of your virtual surroundings, while the positional audio creates a more immersive experience as the action unfolds around you in 360-degree sound. For those that do have desktop gaming computers, the Quest can transform one instantly into a VR gaming device too with the addition of a new USB-C cable, the Oculus Link.
VR gaming is not only influencing trends in conventional gaming; it’s also creating new, immersive environments for those that like to play casino games online too. Although the iGaming industry has made huge strides in recent years, with significant improvements to connectivity making live casino in the UK not just possible but a resounding success, VR casinos are also starting to pop up with regularity. Following on the live casino trend, which uses advanced technology to deliver more immersive variants of classic casino games such as blackjack and roulette to players, VR could take off on the iGaming scene very soon. Although it’s not yet possible to wager real money on the current VR versions, it’s still a very different experience, and one players seem eager to partake in.
There’s one other industry that VR could crack to help it enter the mainstream. VR gamification in the health and fitness sector could create a new global demand for VR headsets, among people of all ages. However bizarre it might sound, some people are now starting to cancel their gym memberships and spinning classes in favour of buying their own VR headset and VR health and fitness gaming apps to play in the comfort of their own home.
BoxVR could be the real game-changer for VR gaming. Developed by FITAR Ltd and released for download on Steam, BoxVR is, unsurprisingly, a boxing-focused app that incorporates the vibrant, uplifting music you would expect from your local gym as well as gamified levels that require you to box, duck and weave at your rhythmic best at all times. Daily, weekly and monthly challenges are launched within the BoxVR community, giving people a chance to get the praise and recognition that some traditionally crave from their local gym instructors and peers.
It’s also available on PlayStation VR as well as Oculus, which helps to give rise to a whole new world of gamified VR fitness that could help the next generation of gamers to stay fitter, even if they don’t leave the confines of their bedroom.
It thus seems that, although the rise of VR hasn’t been as steep as some predicted a few years ago, adoption by niche sectors and increased accessibility to hardware is already helping virtual reality along the way. Could 2020 be the year when the mainstream truly embraces it?