It seems that for every critic declaring virtual reality to be the next major entertainment development, there’s another dismissing it as a flash in the pan.
Who is right? It will be several years before we know for sure, but Sony studios boss Shuhei Yoshida has dismissed those who predict that VR will suffer the same demise as one of entertainment recent high-profile failures – 3D TV.
"This is not the next 3D. This is totally different,” Shuhei Yoshida told Polygon. "The difference is very easy to see if you try the Morpheus experience and compare it to the 3D TV gaming experience. The 3D TV gaming experience is basically the same as the 2D TV gaming experience. You just add the depth in the world, but you’re pretty much seeing the same game. And that’s all that we could do. It’s not like we are able to go behind the TV to view a different scene or something like that.
"[With VR] you are totally inside the game. You are in a virtual environment. That level of, quality of experience will convince people. You cannot get that experience in any other way. So that’s a clear difference."
As stated, however, option is divided.
Take Deus Ex creator Warren Spector, for instance, who told Games Industry that he remains thoroughly unconvinced about the technology’s mass-market potential.
I’ve been pretty consistent in my belief that VR is a fad,” he said. I think it’ll generate some interest among the hardcore gamers. And I see amazing possibilities in VR for social media and virtual meetings and training and crazy stuff like dealing with phobias. But for entertainment? I’m just not seeing it.
I don’t think most humans want to look stupid (everyone looks stupid in a VR headset) and they don’t want to isolate themselves from the world. I mean, if someone’s sneaking up behind me with a baseball bat, I want to know about it, you know what I mean? And let’s not talk about nausea.”
Nintendo America boss Reggie Fils-Aime last week also questioned the current VR hype.
"We have knowledge of the technical space, and we’ve been experimenting with this for a long, long time," he said. "What we believe is that, in order for this technology to move forward, you need to make it fun and you need to make it social. I haven’t walked the floor, so I can’t say in terms of what’s on the floor today, but at least based on what I’ve seen to date, it’s not fun, and it’s not social. It’s just tech."