Little content and nausea: why virtual reality has not yet become popular

Three years have passed since the release of virtual reality helmets to the mass market: in 2016, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR appeared. Then they were presented as a revolution in the entertainment industry. But the technology, which was perceived by something akin to the appearance of a car with an internal combustion engine in the era of horse-drawn carts, is still in a coma. VR did not come to every home, although it may have been for a long time. And there are a lot of reasons for this state of affairs.

“You can’t build a business on this”

In March of this year, Sony shared sales results: from 2016, people bought 4.2 million PlayStation VR. In the quarterly reports, the helmet for the Japanese console is also relatively good: the device is ahead of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. But the reasons for this are simple: the PlayStation VR has ready infrastructure and hardware. The device is enough to connect to the PlayStation 4, which in this generation of consoles turned out to be the dominant prefix. At the same time, the situation with other helmets is more complicated: a powerful and, consequently, a very expensive computer that can pull all the magnificence is still required.

PlayStation VR

Millions of sales of a new type of device that can hardly be called necessary in life seem to be a good indicator: the industry has taken VR as a phenomenon. But large companies are not in a hurry to develop virtual reality. For example, at the end of 2017, CCP Games closed the CCP Atlanta division and office in Newcastle (England), which developed projects for VR.

Although the Icelandic studio and its EVE: Online is not particularly known in our area, in fact it is a large company with a serious turn. They quickly figured out what you can occupy for the present a free niche of games in virtual reality. The EVE: Valkyrie arcade, where we participate in fights in space fighters, looked almost the main project for VR. Action in general, met not bad, especially since the choice of the owners of helmets is not particularly from what. But the company considered the very direction of virtual reality not profitable enough. “You cannot build a business on this, ” lamented Hilmar Weigar Petursson, the head of CCP Games, after two studios closed.

EVE: Valkyrie

According to Petursson, the company expected that by 2017 the VR market would be two to three times larger than it actually was. CCP Games does not exclude a return to virtual reality games, but is already quite skeptical. The head of the company formulated the main problem of virtual reality helmets: “Many people buy helmets just to try. How many of them are active users? We found out that not a lot. ” Nevertheless, not everyone shares pessimism: let’s say the publisher Bethesda (Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Wolfenstein) has long been actively supporting virtual reality and is not going to stop yet.

Concept problems

“Try it” is the key word in the still young history of virtual reality. VR-games really give a new experience and experience compared to conventional projects, in terms of immersion in what is happening they have no equal. But there was a huge number of problems that you don’t think about when you see people wearing helmets smiling from advertising posters.

Firstly, under VR it is necessary to allocate almost a separate room. Remember how school started warming up on physical education? Stand in rows, arms to the side – fingers should not touch the other person. That’s about the same way the game starts in VR-helmet. Much, of course, depends on living conditions, but stepping on a cat or brushing off a mug from a table near it turns out to be quite real. Secondly, virtual reality games involve physical activity — like the Nintendo Wii used to do. But how many people are ready to get up from the couch or chair and waving their arms for an hour or two? Thirdly, VR is pure entertainment for one person. Forget about chatting with your friends for matches in Mortal Kombat, FIFA or social collections of mini-games on the Nintendo Switch. However, the most serious problem of VR is a small amount of content. And here one already clings to another:

HTC Vive Pro

The industry greeted the emergence of the three main devices with enthusiasm: after all, major players took up the business – Sony, John Carmack (Doom’s father worked on the Oculus Rift), HTC and Valve. But time passed, and the promised revolution was absolutely not felt: the games continued to go out mainly for regular monitors and televisions, and under VR there appeared either small exclusives, or – for big holidays – something bigger.

Why many people rock

A fair share of releases for VR is arcade games and puzzles, which are perceived as just another attraction, and not a game that you will play in the evenings after work or school. But there are exceptions: for example, Doom, Resident Evil 7 and even The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim from Fallout 4. Almost all of these similar VR games have their hero’s system of movement changed from a normal walk to teleports. On the one hand, it changes the balance and habitual style of the game, which not everyone will like, but on the other hand, the developers try to minimize the effect of motion sickness. After all, seasickness is another serious shortcoming of VR.

Doom vfr

Nausea arises from the fact that virtual reality is almost all the time deceiving the brain. If the situation is normal when the head turns (movement takes place physically, the picture changes before the eyes, and there is no “out of sync”), then while walking in the game, the sea begins to worry. While the character is walking, our legs are still – the body expresses displeasure. The hero’s teleportation is here at hand: you move, but the main mass of time is at one point. True, the HTC Vive just suggests the possibility of walking, but still you don’t have much trouble within the room.

There are less obvious triggers that can cause discomfort from virtual reality. VR bad influencesfor kinesthesia – in simple terms, this is the sensation of one’s body and limbs in space, as well as what happens to them. If, for example, a hero’s arm in a VR game is wrapped around a tentacle, we should feel squeezing pain. Or when a character passes through a wall, our body expects some kind of pressure. But there are no such sensations, and the brain is confused once again. In the late eighties, this even caused problems when training pilots of military helicopters: they were swayed on simulators, and then a conditioned reflex was developed – people subconsciously did not want to continue training. In theory, virtual reality costumes like Teslasuit, which imitate physical sensations, should solve the problem.


On the Internet, you can easily find a lot of tips on how to get rid of or at least reduce unpleasant symptoms. Of the most popular – eat a little ginger, take frequent breaks, play in a well-ventilated area and try games for the first time that do not require active movement of the characters. At the same time, the likelihood remains that no solution will help you . The susceptibility threshold is different for everyone. There are people who, even in adulthood, are swayed in a car or in an airplane, and in the case of VR, the load on the brain seems to be stronger. Although it is necessary to take into account the degree of habituation: over time, the body, even if not completely, adapts to VR – and you can play much longer without unpleasant consequences.

The case of technology

There remains one more problem – graphics. From the beginning of the development of VR helmets, their creators warned that they would need the highest quality hardware not only for the sake of high-quality images, but also for frame stability per second. Any slowdowns can be caused by a lump approaching the throat, so the smoothness of the game is crucial. But iron for VR is already quite acceptable money for a gamer: for example, for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive you need a Nvidia GTX 1060 video card or an AMD Radeon 480, 8 GB of RAM and Core i5-4590, and a more sophisticated HTC Vive Pro will ask for a bit more powerful – level GTX 1070. Of course, the more productive a computer, the better. But with the picture quality, so far everything is not very good: often the level of graphics is much lower compared to regular games.

Oculus rift s

Recently helmets have experienced minor updates. Oculus VR introduced the Oculus Rift S – the device received five cameras on the body itself and it became easier to set up; the LCD panel replaced the OLED. The cameras are able to transmit the image around you, which means that you no longer need to lift the helmet every time you want to understand how far you have moved from the starting point.

The above-mentioned HTC Vive Pro is also an updated model of the old helmet: a resolution of 1440 × 1600 for each eye, a fresh dual camera. But HTC and Valve did not stop there, later presenting another modification – Vive Pro Eye. At the moment, this is the most sophisticated helmet that can track eye movement. In addition to controlling the look, another significant plus appears in the game: the system will produce a picture of the highest quality in the area where you are currently watching, and the graphics around are not so important – it can be drawn not so qualitatively.

Compared to the competitors, the improvements to the PlayStation VR V2 are the least significant: the HDR mode has appeared, the docking station has been made smaller, the camera is already included. Obviously, a full-fledged new generation of Sony protects until the release of the PlayStation 5.

However, analysts predict a good future for virtual reality: let the sales figures are not particularly impressive, but the market will continue to grow. VR helmets need to take several important steps: get rid of the wires, solve technical problems and minimize motion sickness. However, even in this case, virtual reality devices are seen more as an addition to a regular TV or monitor, but not its replacement.

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