Virtual reality has been around for longer than you would imagine. The first commercial VR headset was launched in 1991 by SEGA – it was a VR headset for its arcade games and the MegaDrive console. The technology was praised as the next great step in digital entertainment – it was not as massive a success as it was expected to be, and after a few years, it disappeared from the spotlight, only returning into the center of attention in 2010 thanks to Palmer Luckey’s “Oculus” design. This brought forth a revival of VR for home-based entertainment and led to the release of several exciting products ranging from simple phone-based headsets like Samsung’s Gear to more complex – and expensive – equipment like Valve’s Index headset.
Excitement… and not so much
The whole world was excited by VR for a while. Startups emerged exploiting the possibilities of altered realities, offering fully immersive experiences and many “real-life” uses for the platform, especially in training and education.
But when it came to gaming, companies were a bit reserved in dedicating many resources to a platform in the making – this is probably why many exciting projects, including Microgaming’s VR Casino, never really took off. Although VR Casino was presented to the world in 2015 and won major industry awards for its innovative approach and high-quality execution, it’s still waiting to be rolled out to outlets like JackpotCity online casino. Not that the JackpotCity doesn’t have more than enough content as it is – its over 1000 titles offer players hours upon hours of entertainment. But those looking for a fully immersive experience still have to wait or get into live dealer games for their personal touch.
The gaming industry was, indeed, the one with the most enthusiastic audience for VR. The growth of the platform was, in turn, hindered by the often prohibitive price of the equipment (the Oculus Rift cost $600 upon its release, and the Valve Index is still sold for about $650 in its cheapest variant). And let’s not forget the proverbial vicious circle holding the industry back. The slow growth of VR sales wasn’t a big enough incentive for content creators to dedicate many resources and time to the development of high-quality content – and the lack of high-quality content held the sales of equipment back.
The rise is upon us
But after a slow start, VR seems to finally get the attention it needs to truly grow thanks to the first truly “Triple-A” game launched on the platform last March: Half-Life: Alyx. The game was the perfect title to boost sales of Valve’s Index as well as to focus the gamers’ attention on VR, given that it was the first new game in the Half-Life franchise since the launch of Half-Life 2: Episode Two in 2007. The game got extensive media coverage and boosted the sales of the Valve Index instantly, at the same time becoming the first “killer app” on VR since its revival in 2010.
Since then, other major developers have started shifting more resources toward developing high-profile VR titles. Among them, we find titles like Vertigo Games’ After the Fall, a post-apocalyptic VR shooter, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed VR, IO Interactive’s Hitman 3, and
Creepy Jar’s VR port of Green Hell, to name just a few. With this much quality content coming, we can expect a rise in VR headset sales, finally pushing the platform into a place where it belongs.