Welcome back. Had a nice break? Well that’s great because there’s a lot of work to do over the next 52 weeks. We’ve got our three major headsets and our mobile devices, we’ve got ecosystems and apps and developers. We’ve got millions in investment and mountains of promise.
Now, what are we going to do with it all?
That’s a question that expands well beyond 2017, but there’s still a bunch of big questions we’re expecting to answer next year. From apps to tech, the industry needs to push on with breakthroughs both big and small. Let’s take a look.
Will Someone Crack VR Locomotion?
This is a loaded question. Room-scale tracking is still an amazing breakthrough in consumer VR, but it’s not perfect, and not everyone is fortunate enough to have the space, or the systems that support it. We want to see room-scale evolve beyond teleportation for sure, but we also have to work at artificial locomotion. It’s how people with PlayStation VRs and are going to be moving within VR for the next few years, and we even see it in Vive games like Vertigo when developers want to design a traditional level, not work around the constraints of VR. It needs a solution that combats nausea and feels immersive. Will we finally crack it in the next year?
What Headsets Will Support Project Scorpio?
Six months on from its reveal, Microsoft’s Project Scorpio remains a promising mystery for the VR industry. A big part of the upgraded Xbox One’s E3 reveal message was support for “high-fidelity VR”, but that’s about all we know. A few months ago, our money would have been on Microsoft integrating the console with the Oculus Rift, which still may well be the case, but since then the company has also revealed its own range of Windows 10 headsets made in partnership with other tech giants. Will these be the headsets that support Scorpio? Will they match Rift and Vive? And what kind of pressure will Xbox VR support place on PlayStation VR?
Which Big Developers Are Going To Jump Onboard?
Oculus is spending the kind of money that gets Epic, Square Enix and Insomniac involved with VR. Sony has partnered with Capcom and is utilizing its own first-party studios. Bethesda is jumping on board with one of the biggest games of the past two years. That’s all great, and it’s happening much faster than many of us thought it would, but gamers get hungry quick. So one of my biggest questions is, once Resident Evil 7, Fallout 4, Robo Recall and more are out, who’s next? I want to see big studios get involved in this industry. CD Projekt Red, Kojima Productions, Telltale Games, Naughty Dog; there’s no end to the studios that should get involved in VR.
Are We Going To See The Next Rift Or Vive?
We know we’re not seeing Vive 2, whatever that might be, at CES next week. That will come as a relief to many, as the original unit is less than a year old, but it won’t be by the end of 2017. Could Oculus be preparing a Rift 2 reveal for (the unannounced) Oculus Connect 4, for release in 2018? VR is going to see a rapid upgrade cycle as technologies like 4K displays become more commercially viable and we continue to make breakthroughs, so we’re expecting to see the next generation of headsets sooner rather than later, even if they don’t release this coming year.
Who Will Crack Mobile Position-Tracking First?
There isn’t a great position-tracked mobile headset on the market yet. Google thinks it’s on the right path, it just has heating issues to sort out. Oculus has its standalone headset, but it’s only in the prototype stages. I expect that we’ll have a solution for an inside-out tracked headset as an official product this time next year, I just don’t know if we’ll actually have it on our hands or not. As PC headsets continue to improve, though, the gap in mobile VR becomes more and more noticeable. It’s time that gap was closed a little.