I came to EGX this year with less of a specific plan than I’ve had in the past. I’ve always attended game shows with a shortlist of things I want to see. This game. This controller. This genre – whatever.
This time I looked through the listings of games and while a couple looked interesting none really caught my attraction. AAA games as a market seem to move faster and faster and Indies are proliferating at such a speed that only the most dedicated and hardcore can keep up with exactly whats happening.
I wanted to get a feel for how the gaming industry was going as a whole. What were the trends? Was there anything on the horizon that might change things around from the comfortable sequels that seem to have taken the lions share of the money?
After walking around for half an hour I was more confused than ever. VR is the obvious theme of the show with the already released Vive and Oculus Rift and the soon to be released Playstation VR. They’re everywhere. In the past you’ve been lucky to see one or two headsets with long, long queues around them but by my counting around a third of the new titles at EGX use or have VR involved. That’s massive and worrying.
Worrying? Yes. The problem is one of levels of penetration. The Vive and the Rift have been out for several months and you can now get them in two or three days. How many people do you know that have one? Unless you’re a developer or know one the chances are that no-one does. I regularly review games and am not anywhere near being able to justify buying one.
Why? In simple terms – cost. Buy a Vive and a PC that’s powerful enough to get good performance out of it and you’re easily pushing £2,000. And yet. And yet. There’s something going on. If a third of the games here at EGX are VR titles they must think that they will be able to sell enough games to make it worthwhile.
Many developer’s I’ve talked to are hoping that it’s a chicken and egg situation. VR unit’s aren’t taking off because there aren’t enough titles for them to make it worth it. Others hope the upcoming release of the PSVR with it’s much lower price point and high install base of powering systems is going to make a difference.
For myself after a day considering it I’m still not sure. VR as a space does have huge potential but I’m worried that the current hardware isn’t quite all it needs to be and is too expensive. Come back in five years and that will probably change but there’s a lot of indie and smaller games coming out now that are going to have to survive until then – and many won’t.
Watch this space – 2017 is going to be rough ride.