Samuel Brace doesn’t think 2016 will be the year of VR…
The journey to VR — to real, sustainable VR — has been long. The journey to VR has been torturous. The journey to VR has been exciting and mysterious. The journey to VR has been fuelled — as any notable product is — by competition. The journey to VR is now nearly over. We’ve made it everyone. We’ve made it to 2016, where we will finally get what we’ve been waiting for. But will 2016 be the year of VR? Will VR, when it’s all said and done, be the notable occurrence that 2016 is ultimately remembered for? I don’t think so. Let me tell you why.
VR is viable. There are a lot of gimmicks in the world of entertainment, especially in games (motion controls for example), but VR is not one of them. This particular product has the opportunity to be something more than that; it has potential to be game changing. VR won’t, ultimately, be constricted to the medium it will be birthed into. Video Games won’t be its sole playground. This is a product, a tool, which is far too useful to be hamstrung like that. There are an asinine amount of applications available to it. VR has possible and probable uses in film, tourism and communication to name only a few. This is going to be a technology gobbled up by anyone whose shoe laces aren’t firmly tied to a 20th century lamppost. There is only one thing that will hold VR back, that will delay its ascension. Time. Time and unfortunately more of it. VR — for the general, casual consumer — won’t be embraced in loving arms until it is in the hands of that very such person. People need to try it, VR, at the very least, needs word of mouth to spread once it reaches the market. VR needs time to gestate, to grow in the hearts and minds of gamers. This won’t happen overnight. Whether it’s PS VR or Oculus, time is necessary, time to allow this growth to happen, time to allow a quality, robust catalogue of games to emerge and time for the price to drop to meet the casual consumer need. VR, in 2016, is going to be incipient. 2017 sounds, on paper, like a better date, a more reasonable, believable date for VR dominance, but we will have to see.
So if VR won’t be the prized child of 2016… what will be? There are certainly no lack of candidates. How about Xbox One? Microsoft had a fantastic year in 2015 with the successor to 360. Sales figures were fantastic, software was solid, and they managed to redesign and sculpt their message to the consumer in a far more appeasing and digestible way. Phil Spencer and co, really turned things around last year, they did a fantastic job, but ultimately, it wasn’t quite good enough. Even with their impressive sales figures they were still left in the dust by PlayStation. Whatever they did, Sony could do better. So perhaps 2016 will be the year Xbox One claws some of those inches — more like yards — back. Perhaps with word of mouth spreading about their return to form, with solid exclusives like Gears 4 and maybe a little help from VR not working out like Sony might hope, they can force themselves back into the conversation. This would be mighty hard, a difficult challenge undoubtedly, but they are certainly on the right path to attempt such a win, and with a bit of good fortune, 2016 could be theirs.
A more likely scenario will be the continued dominance of PlayStation. 2015 was bananas for them. Sales figures were spectacular, even without any premium exclusives of worth, and good will towards them and their product just continues to rise. PlayStation is the word on all lips when it comes to gaming these days, a contrast to the previous cycle when 360 was mostly king. PlayStation 4’s are flooding into people’s homes like its nobodies business; consumers don’t seem to care about game delays or exclusives. They are winning regardless and doing it at a canter. This hot streak could very well transfer over to 2016, they could continue to climb the sales league of past hardware legends, they could, with arrivals such as Uncharted 4 and Horizon, cement their place at the top with premium, top tear releases. They could, with PlayStation VR, put the final nail in Xbox’s coffin. Sony and PlayStation could do a lot of things in 2016. With what they achieved in the previous calendar year, they could seemingly do whatever they want. They can rule the world in 2016. 2016 could become synonymous with PlayStation.
Nintendo could even rise to claim the year. With the apparent impending announcement and release of NX, whatever it turns out to be, they could see themselves, surprisingly, forcing their way back into gaming relevancy. No one really knows what the NX will be, if it’s a natural successor to the Wii U (god help us), some kind of joint home and handheld device, or hopefully, a console that can actually challenge, if not surpass, PlayStation and Xbox in terms of power and capability. If this is the case, if it can do things with performance that the current kings of gaming cannot, well golly, Nintendo’s demise may have been greatly exaggerated. If they can deliver such a product, breathe new life into their opulent catalogue of IP’s, and convince third parties that Nintendo is back and here to stay, who knows what is possible for them this year. The prospects are nothing if not exciting. A world where Nintendo is once again a force to be reckoned with is a world where gaming only benefits. 2016 could be theirs, or the NX could be another dud and they will finally come to the light and just sell software as a third party for PlayStation and Xbox, raking in asinine amounts of money in the process. You know, one or the other.
What it really boils down to however, what 2016, just like every other year, will really boil down to, is games. The games will win 2016. Games will be the champion just like every other year. Regardless of new tech, peripherals and hardware sales, the games are what 2016 will be remembered for. It doesn’t matter whose games, or how they are played, just that they are good. There will be stinkers but there will also be marvels, maybe even phenomenons. Games are enough reason to be excited for the year to come, the rest is all just back ground noise, icing on the cake, something to read about after your done playing for the day. Nintendo will be visible this year, Xbox will continue to battle, PlayStation will attempt to rule, and VR is coming. It will be game changing, but not this year. The seeds of the future will be planted, but we’re here for the games, and 2016 is shaping up to be pretty rad. 2017/18 on the other hand… well, while still ruled by games, we could all be floating in virtual space, a ride that will undoubtedly be worth taking, and the first tickets are available very soon.