Gaming Sector Spotlight: How will virtual reality change the market?

With a number of vendors bringing VR devices to market, Jade Burke finds out how retailers can benefit…
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Virtual reality (VR) has been toyed about with for some time now, but with more and more vendors launching their own headsets, will it hit the mainstream for years to come?

No doubt the Oculus Rift is leading the way when it comes to VR, but now other vendors, including the likes of Sony with the Project Morpheus and Microsoft with the HoloLens, are jumping on the bandwagon with their
own editions. 

Microsoft boss Satya Nadella has since revealed that developers will be able to get their hands on the HoloLens within the next year, and the final consumer version of the Oculus Rift is expected
to launch into retail later this year – VR doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. 

Sales of VR devices are set to reach 14 million by 2016 according to the Topology Research Institute (TRI), with more vendors taking an interest in the wearable market.

“While I was at Gamescom in August, there was a queue around the hall to get to test the VR One,” explains Rob Hall, MD of PXS Distribution. 

“It might have been a fad in the past but this market is now set to boom. A new app called Trinus VR for Android has just launched, which connects wirelessly to your PC and lets you stream games to your phone inside the VR One. This kind of tech means we now have the developers and hardware to make VR a reality.” 

Hardcore gamers are constantly on the lookout for more ways to immerse themselves in a virtual world. VR devices are helping to create that and now Basemark and Crytek have partnered to create a PC system test for VR gaming. 

The benchmark will enable gamers and PC vendors to access the level of experience they can expect when running VR content, to help immerse themselves into another world. 

VR devices aren’t just for gaming though, with doctors using VR to distract patients from pain and airline EasyJet using the technology to train their crew without having to build a separate fake cockpit. 

For example, Neilson Holidays is using the Oculus Rift to give customers a taster of their holiday before they set off, transporting them to the Mediterranean or the ski slopes in Andorra. Also, Trillenium builds 3D VR shops for online retailers. Miodrag Relic, business development director for Caseking group (which owns retailer Overclockers), recognises the importance of virtual reality technology: “We will do our best to be there, once these devices launch at etail and retail.

“But time will tell. Once we see the technologies available, then it can go into sales and we’ll do our best to be there, because it’s part of our ethos – who we are.“

There are various ways retailers can use VR devices as well, for example demonstrations in store will entice more custom, plus there are various add-ons including software and games that can also be sold alongside.

Retailer Dixons Carphone has also revealed that VR is a key emerging sector, as the firm’s deputy group CEO Andrew Harrison previously told PCR: “I think it’s quite exciting. I think it’s going to be one of the bigger trends over the coming years and we’re working quite hard on that in terms of how we bring that to consumers.

“From the things we’ve had a go on at the events, and some of the products available, you need very high-powered computers in order to do that. You need setup capabilities and a room to be able to do it in, and you need peripherals. People are going to need to come to physical retail places and explore what’s on offer.”

Now that more vendors and retailers are starting to embrace the VR trend, it seems these devices are here to stay and will no doubt make a huge impact on the way gamers play. 

PCR's Sector Spotlight on Gaming is running throughout September - click here for more articles

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