Turning fantasy to reality.
CES isn’t exactly the best indication of where gaming trends are headed. For that, we’d have to wait for E3 later in the year. However, we can see in terms of technical direction that gaming companies are actively looking for the next big thing that’ll up the level of engagement in gaming. And the big buzzword seems to be Virtual Reality (VR).
VR isn’t exactly a new trend. High profile projects like the Oculus Rift have continuously been in the limelight for the past two years with no real consumer progress to date. Often compared to the failed push by TV makers to make 3D entertainment mainstream, VR feels like a similar gimmick that has great potential on the outset, but a very limited or restrictive application in real life.
And yet, major investments in VR continue to happen. Is there really something in it that we haven’t seen? The biggest news so far isn’t any newfangled headset, but rather Razer’s initiative to push for a proper and open sourced VR platform.
Instead of a fragmented VR solution that puts even more restrictions to an already closed environment, an open source base will allow everyone access to the same set of tools hopefully with the goal of realizing its potential reach quicker.
The fact that Razer is pushing for an open source platform and has support from industry giants like Unity Technologies (the creators of the Unity engine) and startups like Sixense (which is developing an innovative VR interaction system that promises very little lag and 1:1 movement accuracy), may make the technology a real game changer and something worth keeping an eye on. Of course, we’re still waiting for the Holodeck to become reality instead of having to wear dorky VR headgear.
Another trend for gaming that’s on the verge of becoming mainstream is streaming, both local device and cloud-based. Again, this concept isn’t a new one, but it’s only with current broadband and network advancements that acceptable levels of interactivity and engagement allow game streaming a chance of success.
Sony’s Playstation Now service is launching in the US in a few months, as will NVIDIA’s GRID. Pioneers such as OnLive and Gaikai (now under the Sony umbrella) are constantly perfecting their technology, which can easily be seen in how Remote Play has evolved from the near unplayable mess it was in early PSP games to the relatively smooth version running on current Xperias now.
It’ll be interesting to see which of the two trends will survive as the industry is notoriously fickle in its technology adoption.
"THE FACT THAT RAZER IS PUSHING FOR AN OPEN SOURCE PLATFORM AND HAS SUPPORT FROM INDUSTRY GIANTS LIKE UNITY TECHNOLOGIES AND STARTUPS LIKE SIXENSE MAKE IT A REAL GAME CHANGER.”