To VR or not to VR
By Konstantinos Christakis
Only recently Oculus announced the retail price for the consumer version of the Virtual Reality Oculus Rift headset. It was horrendous news to say the least.
With a calculated price tag of around 750 euro, it feels like the dreams of many gamers are either being crushed or evaporated slowly as the Oculus company funnels their money, a hundred by a hundred. Many had been planning on purchasing one and I have to say that I was one of those people too. It was as if it was finally the time that we would change our conventional ways of experiencing games and insert ourselves into a (virtual) reality that would let us explore so many other things we didn't know even we could feel through interactive entertainment.
Back in the day that the Oculus Rift was announced, everyone lost their minds and started speculating as to how soon it could become a thing that each and every one of us would have at home. Virtual reality, augmented reality, all became concepts that we wanted to play with and companies took all that hype very seriously. Microsoft has already announced a bunch of amazing projects that will make use of VR or AR, but they are still "in development."
That dreadful sentence. The endless wait for the arrival of something that we know exists but is not yet perfect for the hands of the consumers. We even reached out to the companies for various "developers' kits" and paid the extravagant amounts of money just to have a taste of it. The fact that it won't be a "completed" thing though and that it might start having various issues and problems along the way was very discouraging though. Once you've experienced a dev kit of anything, it starts making sense as to why companies wait so long to guarantee a "consumer ready" product. But the price of the dev kit in the case of the oculus rift, wasn't that crazy. You would say we could expect a way lower price when the consumer version is out.
Apparently, that was not the case. Millions of gamers all around the globe came to a standstill the moment the first price reveal announcement came up as their eyes full of static started dropping tears of sadness. It's ok to buy a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One but buying just a VR headset that has to go with a really good computer is already taking it really far money value-wise. But that isn't the biggest problem in this particular case.
The worse part about the whole shenanigan of VR being overpriced (or reasonably priced if you consider what is on that thing) is that there are many independent (indie) developers that started working on things that would work with the VR technology. So many indie devs that made something extraordinary and new with very low budgets. But all these games won't really be seeing the light of day and even if they do, their sales won't be high enough to motivate newer generations of developers to do the same.
There are already problems in the indie department of video games (other things too, but let's focus on that part for now) and this one is yet another push against the wall for the ever struggling market of indie. There has been a considerable growth for the market but nonetheless it could always use some kind of extra push. The VR in this case would have been the most amazing of "pushes" if it actually went as it was planned. Indie games are in most cases teams of people that go into the abyssal market of video games without any big publisher backing them. That allows them to risk and go with very innovative and even sometimes controversial concepts for their games. That makes them interesting and worth trying out. They are literally the only thing that is keeping imagination alive for the gamers at the moment. Let's not get into that though, that is a conversation for another time since it would be a shame to waste so much precious reading time in arguing about why Call of Duty is sucking the life force of the industry itself.
So, in conclusion, you have this very amazing concept and technological innovation that can change the world of entertainment as we know it, but for now, it's only for the people with a fat wallet. Or the ones that are willing to go broke for it. What would you do in this case? Wait for a couple years so that you can buy it 500 bucks or maybe even longer? Or will you go crazy and start looking for cheaper, less effective, solutions.