Technology has come a long way in the last years. And while virtual reality has not yet taken off like we’ve all expected, players have been enthusiastic about the new VR leagues in esports. So can we expect virtual reality to replace console and PC gaming at some point? Let’s take a look.
What’s been holding the VR technology back from reaching the masses? After all, it’s been around for decades, with one of the first virtual reality systems introduced in 1962. Well, one of the main things that have kept customers from purchasing VR headsets is their high cost. The lenses and motion sensors that can provide a good VR experience come with a hefty price tag. The same goes for high-end gaming hardware.
But all this can change soon.
Because of the fierce competition, big companies like Oculus or Playstation are constantly forced to make their VR products more affordable. This has allowed more people than ever to get into virtual reality. And the innovative esports industry is keeping up with the trends. Since eSports tournaments gather millions of viewers in the so-called grand online for the purpose of charity. The time that players around the world are looking forward to. We’ve already seen a launch of new VR esports leagues and first attempts to turn spectators into participants. That’s right. In the future, fans of video games can expect a much higher level of engagement as virtual reality allows more interactivity.
Unfortunately, many problems with virtual reality devices continue to persist. Let’s take a closer look at whether VR and esports could have a future together or not.
Defining Virtual Reality
Let’s start by looking at what virtual reality is. For people not familiar with VR, it can seem like something from the pages of a science-fiction novel. But believe it or not, virtual reality is already used in many people’s everyday lives. You can find it in medical institutions, science labs, and military training. The technology keeps getting better every day, and there’s no shortage of companies designing it for various uses.
In the esports arena, the players wear a virtual reality headset and have a controller in their hands to play a game. Depending on the headgear it usually covers both the eyes and ears, making the player fully immersed in the virtual world. Developers are interested in making the games as life-true as possible by engaging each of our basic senses.
Since headsets that turn a simple smartphone into a VR system have gone mainstream, esports games in 2020 have started to adapt. Just look at HADO. Each player wears an esports headset that is connected to a smartphone strapped to the hand. The game similar to dodgeball, as one-two-player team has to hurl virtual fireballs at the other team. Players are visible as they appear in real life, but all the fire and explosions are virtual. It’s a fun and simple game, but the real importance of HADO is in the fact that it brings the esports players on a three-dimensional arena. This is much more interesting to watch than a game played out on a screen. The full potential of three-dimensional tournaments is yet to be realized, but it can easily be the future for esports.
What’s more, Sony is working on a system that allows even spectators to connect themselves to the virtual reality. Further developments of this technology could even change how esports works. When connected to the same virtual reality as the players, the viewers of the game can become participants.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Virtual reality still has plenty of limitations.
Esports VR Games Need Need to Get Better
First of all, when we look at the most popular esports games (Call of Duty, Counters Strike, League of Legends) then none of these games have VR components. And the games that are played in the ESL’S VR league are just not that well known. The general public is usually not interested in niche games, so the number of new people getting involved in virtual reality remains low.
Of course, it can all change in the future. Chris McKelvy, the head of esports in Oculus, claims in an article in Esports Insider that they are focusing on the long-term growth of virtual reality esports. So hopefully, they’ll find a way to design games that more people find enjoyable and want to play and watch. Then they’ll have a chance to grow the league bigger.
Limitations of VR Technology
The main limitation of VR technology is that it makes the eyes sore only after 25 minutes of playing. And that’s not suitable for an esports athlete who needs to train 8 hours or more a day. Esports earnings are the main income for professionals, and they need the training hours to get into game shape. Any medical issues resulting from VR devices make them too risky to get involved with
However, as more brands continue to develop their devices, they’ll probably find a way to resolve this problem. Market competition is a great catalyst for innovations and consumer-friendly solutions.
Predictions for the Future Remain Optimistic
Did you know that a whole new generation is growing up on virtual reality games right now? What are we talking about? The family entertainment centers, of course. Almost every suburb has a large virtual reality complex like Main Event these days. These places have different VR games, from bowling to arcade, and people are enjoying the experience. So in 5 to 10 years, esports organizations can expect new gamers who are already enthusiastic about virtual reality. And if the VR technology improves by then, we might see a new rise in VR League’s popularity.
Honestly, the number of viewers during the Virtual Reality League seasons has not been as high as expected. But the games are getting a lot of positive attention in esports news, and the existing fans of VR esports are very enthusiastic about the physicality of it. What’s more, with companies competing to create the best VR devices, we can expect a rapid improvement in the existing technology soon.
So the bottom line is this: virtual reality has the chance to change esports. We’ve already seen how esports changed the game in live sports events. And VR can take esports even further and change completely how games are both played and viewed.
What do you think, is it possible to unite esports with virtual reality? And how? Leave your comments below, we’d love to continue the discussion.
Ellen Royce is a video game blogger. She loves helping beginner gamers develop their skills and build a career in professional gaming. Ellen started participating in tournaments four years ago and now runs a small eSports team of her own.