You can try to call it a fad, but the entire GDC (Game Developers Conference) tradeshow was buzzing about virtual reality. The simultaneous SxSW festival in Austin, Texas was also completely dominated with virtual reality content and experiences. With the announcement of the relatively low price of the Playstation VR headset package, it’s pretty clear that 2016 will be the year of VR.

GDC’s VR Content

Lucasfilm presented their new VR experiment Star Wars: Trials of Tatooine. While this was mostly a cool demo, it proves that even the big studios are paying attention to the rise of VR and they’re doing it in a serious way. This game puts you in the middle of a battle beside the Millennium Falcon while Stormtroopers try (and fail) to shoot their blasters at you. I think for many long time fans of, this type of lightsaber wielding battle experience has been just a fantasy until now. The HTC Vive controllers have provided the amazing feeling many Star Wars fans have been hoping for. Trials of Tatooine joins The Martian VR Experience as a big name science fiction franchise to enter the VR world, and it’s getting fans extremely excited.

starwars-trials-of-tatooine-htc-vive-vr-experiment

Large established movie studios were not the only people making VR content. Valve introduced The Lab, which is their first game launch since the 2011 release of the Dota 2 beta. The Lab is a series of mini-games introducing the Vive’s functionality.

valve-lab-vive

Moreover, Crytek announced their newest version of CryEngine with extensive VR support. The new engine comes with a pay-what-you-want pricing model as well as a new feature called “VRScore” which helps users understand if they can run certain games on their PCs.

cry-engine

Sure there were many traditional titles available

Here are just some of the upcoming VR titles available or announced at GDC:

Vive
  • Arizona Sunshine
  • Audioshield
  • Brookhaven
  • Budget Cuts
  • Cloudlands Minigolf
  • Everest
  • Fantastic Contraption
  • Final Approach
  • GiantCop
  • Hover Junkers
  • Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives
  • John Wick: The Impossible Task
  • La Peri
  • Modbox
  • Raw Data
  • SelfieTennis
  • Space Pirate Trainer
  • The Gallery
  • The Rose and I
  • Thunderbird
  • Tilt Brush
  • Unseen Diplomacy
  • Vanishing Realms
  • Virzoom
  • Waltz of the Wizard
  • Water Bears
PSVR:
  • Allumette
  • Day of the Tentacle
  • Death’s Gambit
  • Driveclub
  • Enter the Dungeon
  • Gang Beasts
  • Gary the Gull
  • Golem
  • Harmonix Music VR
  • Invisible Inc.
  • Job Simulator
  • Joshua Bell: Immersive Experience
  • Megaton Rainfall
  • Playroom VR
  • Push Me Pull You
  • Salt & Sanctuary
  • Severed
  • Star Wars: Battlefront VR Experience
  • Stories: The Path of Destinies
  • SuperHyperCube
  • The Last Blade 2
  • Thumper
  • Tumble VR
  • Valkrie
  • Waltz of the Wizard
  • Wayward Sky
  • Xing: The Land Beyond
Oculus:
  • ADR1FT
  • Adventure Time
  • AirMech: Command
  • Albino Lullaby
  • Audio Arena
  • Project CARS
  • Chronos
  • Darknet
  • Dead Secret
  • Defense Grid 2
  • Dreadhalls
  • Elite Dangerous
  • Esper 2
  • Eve Valkyrie Founder’s Pack
  • Fly to Kuma
  • EVE Gunjack
  • Herobound SC
  • Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
  • Lucky’s Tale
  • Omega Agent
  • Radial G
  • Rooms
  • Shufflepack Cantina Deluxe VR
  • Smashing the Battle
  • Vanishing of Ethan Carter
  • Vektron Revenge
  • VR Tennis Online
  • Pinbal FX2 VR
  • BlazeRush
  • Windland Games

Playstation VR

The Playstation Virtual Reality headset was announced to be $399 USD right at the beginning of GDC. Including controllers and the required camera, you’re looking at an all-in price of PSVR at $500 + $400 = $900 USD. This completely blows away the PC-based VR headset prices. Having tried the PSVR, it’s clear that it more than keeps up with the more expensive PC options.

Gloves

I think we’ve all tried the LeapMotion hand sensing technology. It’s not bad, but I think many would agree that a glove solution would be a good stop-gap until the visual recognition is totally there. Along with higher precision tracking, gloves allow users to feel haptic feedback on the objects they interact with in VR. We got a chance to speak with ManusVR CEO Stephan van den Brink at GDC. I asked Stephan why he decided to focus on hand interactions in VR:

It’s about hand presence and creating immersion. From the moment you’re born, you’re learning to use your hands. In digital environments, you’re all of a sudden not using these hands. In VR is all about transplanting yourself into that reality. Why would you use some kind of stick to interact with that world? The vision is to transplant yourself into virtual reality. –

ManusVR just announced their development kit price of $250. It will be extremely exciting to see VR’s physical touch barrier come down with the advent of VR gloves.

What’s Next

There were many game titles at GDC, but the long lines and the excitement were all directed towards the VR booths. Enough said.

As the major VR headsets are released this summer, we’re going to see the explosion of VR that everyone is hoping for. The low price point of the Playstation VR will be yet another catalyst towards a world where amazing VR experiences dominate our entertainment.

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