A lot has been made about the scope of virtual reality and augmented reality recently, but while the industry of ‘altered reality’ seemed to be ready to launch into the stratosphere a few years or so back, AR and VR haven’t taken off quite as quickly expected.
Back in 2016, The Guardian’s look into the emerging industry revealed that one of the issues with virtual reality and the planned augmented reality application across the various VR headsets and Microsoft’s HoloLens was the price: at least £350 and £2719, respectively. The price will always be a factor, particularly as the use of VR and AR has been best adopted by the gaming industry to offer more immersive and intuitive ways to play games. Augmented reality has been used across many industries already, while virtual reality’s applications are gradually being developed, with price points still being among the primary holdbacks.
Now, however, there is clearly a revitalised effort to push VR with AR continually improving in its application and usage across gaming platforms. The success so far and potential of both AR and VR has also seen many large companies invest in the industry, with Becoming Human reporting that the combined market could be worth as much as $108 billion by 2021. Due to the immersive ways in which AR and VR have been able to be applied to gaming, their scope across a huge range of other markets is tremendous and likely to a lesser scale.
We here at Wall Street Survivor noted in 2017 that backing the big names of the VR scene was the best way to get in on the action, and now many huge companies are investing aggressively in AR and VR. Over the last few years, the likes of Facebook, HTC, and Rothenberg Ventures, the venture capital firm, have all made huge investments and acquisitions in the industry, per Vox. While big-name investors are interested in the industry, the gaming industry has continued to apply and better its use of AR and VR, inspiring potential investors with their success and commitment to the medium.
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AR’s game-changing applications
Through the first half of 2018, per Venture Beat, the number of augmented reality companies grew by 50 per cent to 290 from the end of 2017. A plethora of companies are working on the application of AR in gaming and other industries, but the name that is still the shining beacon when AR is involved is the global sensation Pokémon Go. As Wall Street Survivor details here, the mobile game took the world by storm, bringing a long-loved franchise and its accompanying monsters into the real world, or rather, the augmented real world, to earn $600 million in the free-to-play game’s first three months.
Pokémon Go is still going strong today, using its AR overlay to bring even more generations of Pokémon to its still very healthy player base. As the game moved towards its third anniversary in 2019, it had already been downloaded 1 billion times according to Nintendo Soup, showing that people are more than willing to adopt AR when it complements the experience. Jurassic World: Alive also found success with its use of AR and maintains a strong player base to this day.
Of course, many other aspects make the game entertaining, such as the monsters themselves and the need to move around outside, but the AR aspects are what make the game so innovative. Another way in which AR has been applied to a gaming medium to complement the experience is in live casino gaming. In live casino games, AR is used to add an overlay to feed the player key stats during the interactive live stream. Despite the live stream, use of AR, and technology required to make the game playable from the player’s end, live casino developers have made the form of gaming compatible with mobiles.
VR given a huge push in 2019
Just as other huge companies began to invest in virtual reality and see if the technology’s true scope could be explored, virtual reality in gaming appeared to go a bit cold. Facebook acquiring Oculus VR for $2 billion in 2014 was said to have pushed the VR race into turbo-charge, but on the gaming front, companies struggled to establish a big enough audience for their VR games and headsets. Costing around £350 just a few years ago, Sony reduced the price of its PlayStation VR starter packs to £210 last year, likely in preparation for their huge line-up of games.
In their March 2019 State of Play presentation, PlayStation VR games took the spotlight, with the likes of Marvel’s Iron Man VR, Five Nights at Freddy’s VR, No Man’s Sky: Beyond in VR, virtual reality title Blood & Truth, and the spring and summer 2019 wave of VR games being announced. It showcased a triple-A level of dedication to the platform. But Sony isn’t the only gaming company pushing VR. Nintendo, a company which once said that virtual reality games worry them, per The Verge, has coupled virtual reality with its Labo Kits to create an arcade-style VR gaming experience.
Large scale companies continue to invest and develop virtual reality and augmented reality applications while the gaming industry is making a concerted effort to push the platform once again. The scale of the industry is vast; it just needs AR and VR to be applied in an appealing and cost-effective way for it to reach its potential.