Is VR The Future Of Gaming?


No, in my opinion, it’s not. The current implementation of VR (and hardware-dependent AR, like Magic Leap) asks users to make a lot of compromises in exchange for the benefits of 360° immersion. At present, I think these compromises make it unlikely that VR will become a ubiquitous, mainstream platform for gaming.

The headsets are cumbersome and uncomfortable for sustained usage, it takes a lot of compute to render a satisfying graphical experience, and the UI and controller situation is abysmal. Not to mention the physical space requirements and the fact that you are isolated from those around you while you have the goggles on.

I don’t think the unique pleasures of VR are sufficient to overcome these limitations for a mainstream gaming audience. Playing a first-person shooter in VR is not a 10X, or even a 2X improvement over playing on a good gaming PC or console. That doesn’t mean VR won’t develop a core audience and a successful developer community — but it’s certainly not “the next mobile phone” in terms of scale and economic opportunity, as some have argued.

In my years in the games industry, I have definitely seen peripheral devices that have made a profound impact on how games are designed and sold — think about what the CD-ROM enabled, or the widespread adoption of GPU co-processing. So I hold out some hope that we’ll ultimately get better VR hardware and design paradigms that will mitigate some of the challenges.

I’m also optimistic about the development of new experiences that are truly native to VR, which may be game-like but not exactly games. In some ways, the gold rush that followed the Oculus acquisition set VR back as a creative medium, and it may take some time before we understand what audiences want from VR experiences, and therefore how big the market will actually turn out to be.