Progress of VR development

Virtual reality is in its best shape or at least preparing for a massive leap forward that will make the tech mainstream. Mass acceptance beyond the gaming industry is pretty much achievable in the next 5-6 years, especially when giants like Facebook decide to commit fully to the cause. Today we will be analyzing the technology itself in its current state, examining the most popular applications plus hardware, and explaining why the demand for VR development will grow exponentially in the next few years.

The state of modern VR development

Virtual reality is a computer-generated environment that can be either reminiscent of the real world or be completely fictional. All objects and visual effects in VR are projected onto the user's consciousness, making it possible to experience realistic interactions. This level of immersion into the digital world has become the primary marketing feature of VR and made the tech famous amongst casual and professional users. Market analysts expect a VR development boom in the next 5-10 years that will take this technology to the next level and popularize it across all industries. The majority of specialists also agree that VR games will be at the forefront leading the charge. So today, we are going to talk in detail about VR technology, its current state in gaming and other fields, and will try to look into the foreseeable future.

A few words about the tech

Have you tried games in virtual reality? If the answer is "no," then we will briefly explain what makes them unique. First of all, having a headset on adds +100 immersion points from the start because you get brutally separated from the usual real-world surroundings. Digital reality replaces the standard one making your brain believe that the world around is the one and only.

Thanks to the advances in VR development, the characters and textures have improved, become more detailed thus more believable. Headsets have evolved too. Some pieces even allow you to adjust the position of lenses providing a viewing angle of 100 – 120 degrees.

The best part about VR is that you have direct control of your actions. Sure, the number of activities is often limited to walking, grabbing and throwing items, fighting/shooting. But when you are doing those in virtual reality with gestures instead of button mashing – the gaming experience changes drastically.

The gadget relies on hardware (sensors) and software to track hand movement for such functions to work. In addition to that, there is also a head tracking system to control the first-person camera. The combination of these techniques enhances the presence effect. It means that players can experience similar feelings as if they were fighting in the real world. Some specialists even develop VR games for combat training. For example, hostage rescues scenarios for police and SWAT teams.
NYPD active shooter training in VR

Popularization of VR

Just a few decades ago, significant breakthroughs in any field required years of preparation, research, and whole departments of dedicated specialists with unlimited access to costly materials and resources. But today, even small companies and start-ups can achieve incredible results worthy of multi-billion corporations.

Virtual reality has become one of those industries where this equality can be seen with a naked eye. Why so? First of all, you don't need huge premises crowded with thousands of workers to create 3D graphics. Secondly, the opportunities provided by the alternative reality are so exciting that VR automatically attracts brave minds willing to develop VR games and projects. The number of applications of this technology is not limited by gaming – there are so many areas for experimenting that the popularity of VR is growing by leaps and bounds.

Where is VR used?

Developers and marketers categorize VR technology as one of the most flexible solutions that can be used in a variety of scenarios and fields. To the point where experimental VR apps can theoretically create new markets or expand the already existing ones. Here is a quick rundown of the most popular uses of the VR tech:
  • Videogames;
  • Theme parks;
  • Live event streaming;
  • Architecture;
  • Education;
  • Medicare;
  • Shopping/marketing;
  • Military sector.
A quick analysis of this list allows us to conclude that everything from the above can be divided into a few main categories: VR videogames development for industrial and military use as well as for entertainment purposes, commerce, and scientific research/support.

What makes VR titles special?

A decade ago, virtual reality fractionally failed to live up to people's expectations (gamers in particular). Not because the tech was too complex but due to the fact that developers themselves were not ready to work with it. A combo of overhyped expectations and simplicity of the first VR solutions made a massive blow to the tech's popularization and its adoption on a bigger scale. But today, we know what VR development tools we need to make a good VR game and what qualities it should have.

Deeper immersion in the process
Any decent game must be immersive and let players dissolve in the virtual world completely. VR has one advantage in this aspect – in most titles, you get the main role and play with a first-person view. It takes involvement to new heights because it is much easier to believe in what is happening if it happens with you.

Controls specifics
Even seasoned designers who work in virtual reality development sometimes forget that the main controlling tool is the player's body, not those hi-tech sticks in their hands. The fewer buttons players need to push during gameplay, the better. It is more logical and satisfying because they will have to work with gestures and actions based on their motor skills.

UI and UX rules
The majority of players don't like to read while playing. Reading in VR is even less comfortable due to the rather low resolution of VR helmets, dynamic camera, and visual effects. That is why interfaces in VR obey the ergonomics of things instead of standard UI guidelines. If game designers want to attract players' attention to core elements, they must think of a strict hierarchy of things, order of priority, proper disposition.

High dynamism
People usually buy VR games for action and high-octane gameplay. Sure there are titles with a slow, meditative playstyle, but those are an exception to the rule. Players should always be moving, exploring, fighting, or doing other activities in virtual reality – don't make them feel like static objects. The more gameplay depends on human interactions, the more positive reactions gamers get. That is why in many VR projects, all cut scenes and dialogues serve as a simple addition to the main gameplay course.

Commercial use of VR technology

Two decades ago, e-commerce was something unknown and unexplored. Then it has revolutionized modern trading. VR also has excellent potential to enhance various commercial fields and industries with new fantastic mechanics. Or even invent new markets. So let's discover how businesses use VR to make money today.

Event live streaming
Nothing beats the feeling of personal presence at any mass event. However, it is not always possible due to various reasons: time, money, health conditions, or maybe some global pandemic. Humankind invented the radio and television to fix such problems in the past, but today we have better options at our disposal. So why not utilize them?
With VR, you can digitally visit the most interesting sports events and watch live concerts from anywhere. Traditional viewing is not going to disappear because of that. Instead, we have another option to choose from. With VR technology implemented for lifestreaming, everyone can watch their favorite activities as they want. Furthermore, this practice will potentially increase sport organization revenues (FIFA, NBA, NHL, etc.).

Movies and TV shows
Implementing VR technology in this sector will drastically change the movie industry as we know it. Viewers will get an opportunity to erase the line between films and reality. Why watch the action from the outside when you can become a part of it?
As for TV shows, let's refer to popular content providers. Hulu or Netflix, for example. Both these services have VR support in the form of downloadable apps. With Samsung Gear VR, you can disappear from reality to watch TV in virtual surroundings. This clearly indicates that streaming services are interested in the tech and want to use it in their products.

Shopping and selling
Today VR advertisement is not unusual. You have probably seen various marketing campaigns or ads with 360 ° experience that utilize virtual reality for that wow-effect. Some brands even create small mini-games with VR elements to promote their products.
A cool example of a VR campaign by Adidas
Apart from actual selling, there are other benefits of VR for shopping. With Virtual Reality, the number of "real" stores will lessen, and consumers will not have to visit places physically to check out the stuff they want.

Real estate
VR can easily attract more clients to the real estate sphere. Sotheby's, for instance, has been testing 3D tours in Virtual Reality to sell luxury houses and apartments in LA and NYC. We believe that in the near future this method will attract more businesses. Further innovations in VR have enough potential to change the realty market.
Virtual reality tours combine business and entertainment aspects providing benefits for both interested parties. For example, real estate agents can attract new clients with innovative technology. Clients, on the other hand, will get to study apartments and houses individually.

Metaverse – the new era of VR?

How awesome would it be to do sparring matches with monsters or androids in virtual reality? Or travel from one gorgeous historic location to another in a blink of an eye? That is what Facebook promises you will be able to do within the next decade using their brand new Metaverse. It is going to be the biggest technical dream of the corporation, and its creators, with Mark Zuckerberg in the lead, are taking it very seriously. They even have announced that the old Facebook will be renamed and rebranded into Meta.

Whether you like Facebook as a company or not, you cannot deny that they are at the forefront of it all and seem to be ready to become one with VR and the so-called "Metaverse." This term pretty much means a virtual reality world that looks similar to the one we live in right now but instead, it is computer-generated. It is also packed with endless possibilities of who you want to be or what you can experience. See it as Matrix (from "The Matrix" trilogy) or Oasis (from "Ready Player One"). The futuristic stuff you have seen in movies slowly comes to life, and we can only guess what Meta VR has in store for us when it is fully developed.

Today we already have popular VR projects that use the same concept as Metaverse but on a smaller scale: VR Chat, Rec Room, Roblox, and others. These are also virtual places where people go to play, experiment, build, and socialize with friends. But Facebook/Meta aims to achieve more. Their ultimate goal is to combine all of these virtual environments and unite them into one large intersection, a universe that can take users anywhere. Think of it as Internet V2.0 but more immersive, letting your imagination go wild.

The heart of this digital universe is going to be virtual reality, which will allow users to visit concerts virtually or digitally meet friends from all around the globe at a party. Potentially it will be possible to chat with famous actors, athletes, and singers in Metaverse, so wouldn't it be awesome? Furthermore, users won't be limited by the entertainment purposes of the platform. It will be possible to work, build, and shop in Metaverse. All of these are just basic Facebook's visions of the concept that is supposed to grow step by step.
Virtual meeting in Metaverse
You probably know some of the precursors to Metaverse. For example, the online platform Second Life, where people can live a whole new life digitally, or the Pokemon Go app, which was a huge hit a few years ago, or PS4 VR games dreams where players can do anything from mini-games to creating virtual art. Maybe Facebook/Meta wants to develop VR games as well? It is highly likely.

So far, we have only seen some cool videos and presentations. But feat not because Mr. Zuckerberg is not starting from scratch in this field. In 2014, he already bought the VR goggles brand Oculus, and recently Ray-Ban's Stories Smart Glasses was released. In addition to that, Meta is currently working on new goggles codenamed "Project Nazare." Plus, there is already a virtual Horizon world that consists of Horizon Home and Horizon Workrooms. The first one is your virtual living room to hang out with your friends, and the second is a VR environment for business meetings. They are far from perfect but still serve as VR development tools for future solutions.

It all looks nice and clean on paper, but we see a number of downsides with the concept. Unfortunately, we still don't know exactly how this Metaverse thing is going to work. Mark Zuckerberg didn't say a word regarding how much data his new project will consume. Chip producer Qualcomm expects a live VR to "eat" about 200MB per second. It is only possible with 5G, which is not yet fully developed across the globe. And don't forget about powerful hardware. Analytics say that even the most powerful PCs will be unable to cope up with these apps. You will need brand new and expensive gadgets to experience this. Therefore, good old VR goggles and classic VR games are staying with us in the current form at least for a decade.

Best VR headsets in 2021

Thanks to technological advancements, we can enjoy virtual reality games at home. It took about 10 years for engineers to create and refine VR gadgets. First VR headsets were huge, clumsy, and super expensive. Today decent helms and goggles are more or less affordable. There are many products on the market, but not all of them deserve your attention. If you want to enjoy virtual reality games fully, we recommend taking a closer look at one of the helmets below.

Oculus Quest 2
Most VR headsets require a PC or console to be connected with. Oculus Quest 2 is a standalone device with a built-in game library. All those games are optimized for Quest's hardware so that you can enjoy VR right of the box.
If you prefer to play AAA titles developed for other platforms – such as Steam VR, for example – then nothing stops you from connecting OQ2 to your PC to enjoy VR in high-res. Yeah, we need to point out that integrated games run in lower resolution (but remain playable and enjoyable nevertheless).
Valve Index VR Kit
Interested in a powerful VR gadget from a renowned company? Here is your Index from Valve! It is a perfect piece of machinery, but it comes with a hefty price tag. Although it may not have the highest resolution on the market, Index is more than capable of providing a smooth and detailed picture in most graphically advanced games. This headset also has a very wide field of view of 130 °, which allows you to see more.
Valve utilized all the main achievements of VR development in its headset. They even managed to pack it with a 120Hz refresh rate. It is much higher than your typical VR helmets and allows to eliminate visual stuttering. Players with powerful gaming stations can activate the experimental mode with 144Hz for even smoother gameplay.
HTC Vive Cosmos
It is a universal VR headset with a screen resolution on par with Valve Index. The basic version of the helm has six front cameras that track players' movements without relying on external sensors. If you need more precise tracking, you can switch the basic faceplate with its upgraded version which is compatible with HTC Vive base stations and trackers.
The field of view in HTC Vive Cosmos is 110 °, a golden standard for most VR gadgets. Out of the box, Cosmos features a collection of 500+ VR titles. While this headset does not work without a PC, you can purchase a wireless adapter that provides a smooth VR experience without wires.

How to find a VR developer?

So you want to make a VR project but don't know how to create virtual reality games? Let us clarify a few major points on this matter. Virtual reality development is a field where any brave project may succeed or fail miserably at any stage of development. Therefore, preparation is the key. Start with calculations and consultations with experts – they will quickly detect strong and weak points in your scenario.

Hiring individual freelancers gets more complicated in this type of game development because you have to integrate their work into the project step by step. Plus, they often don't have professional VR development tools (or enough experience with them). This will definitely result in more extensive project management and testing. Instead of wasting time and resources while preparing for mitigating risks, consider hiring a dedicated studio.

A professional VR development team at Argentics has all the specialists you might need for your dream VR project. Years of practice, expertise in narrow game development niches, and extensive portfolio of works – all check. But the most important fact of all – we love games, and we love challenges. Virtual reality development is a complex task. Therefore we always take on each individual project as it was our magnum opus.
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