CES 2016 <3’s VR

By – Trever Shanahan

The Consumer Electronic Show has something for everyone; sometimes you just have to look harder to see that “interesting thing” or “things.”  2016’s CES has a lot to offer, but for a video game fanatic like myself, I saw two things that really grabbed my attention.  The first was the price point for the Oculus Rift VR, and the second was the Playstation VR’s incoming wave of games.

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$599 gets you (starting left, going right) a remote, desk-mounted sensor, Oculus headset, and Xbox One controller – doesn’t seem too bad right?

 

VR is the new hotness, and deserves consumer excitement and skepticism.  Oculus Rift received an official retail pre-order price tag of $599.99, and although a lot of thought and opinion leaders are discussing initially lower promised prices and/or the overall value of the bundle, I think the real story is what’s to follow.  Rift is the leader of the pack; the first of the 3+ large company VR products to be released (or almost released) and priced.  What will Sony, Microsoft, Samsung, and others do?  If consumers embrace the Oculus Rift through their purchases, they (consumers) accept $600 as a worthwhile value for the Oculus Rift’s specs and everything in the bundle (controller, remote, stand, headset).  Will Microsoft bring better specs at a lower price point?  Will Sony eat costs to gain market share?  Who’s getting developers to make software for their hardware?  Saying the Rift if worth $600 is a line in the sand; only time will tell how bold Oculus’ move is.

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Oh, Playstation VR!  “Over 100 titles” and “at least 200 developers” sound like great selling points, but will you deliver?

 

Also in VR news, Sony has announced that Playstation VR has over 100 titles in the works.  Sony CEO, Kaz Hirai, has stated that “about 100 or more Playstation VR titles are in development,” and (in a separate statement) that there are at least 200 developers working on software for the platform.  Again, be excited but also be skeptical.  The titles and developers are not touted as console exclusive or Sony exclusive (at least no specifics).  Are these ports?  Modifications of current titles retrofitted for VR?  A few titles were mentioned specifically; Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin (VR exclusive), and Rez Infinite (playable in VR and non-VR manifestations).

 

VR carries a tremendous burden, but also tremendous potential.  CES 2016’s exhibitor list is proof that the tech industry sees something beyond a quick profit, but I don’t think Sony, Oculus, Microsoft, Samsung, or any other VR-interested company is sure what the future will bring.  Your high school chemistry teacher probably taught you what they taught me; water is the universal solvent.  Time is the real “universal solvent,” and it is with time that the mystery of VR will be eroded and the tech marketplace braces for a possible life-changing tidal wave of hardware and software.

 

ccccccMy name is Trevor Shanahan and I am pursuing a graduate degree in video games/media studies. I am interested in video games and everything they touch (their industry, development, games as art, psychology of games – like gamification, industry issues, culture, etc.). I have come to realize that the more I learn (and learning is so important) the more I do not know. Learn as much as you can about what you love and try to give back to it.