Why is VR Still A Virtual Dream?
“This is a TV that you can strap to your face to make you think you’re somewhere else. Here, try it. I’ll hold your drink.”
This is what virtual reality promised us.
Some would say that it is yet to take off and its progress has been real slow. We got pondering about the same and have come up with a few reasons that justify the same.
1. Hardware limitations. Remember that VR devices have double screens, one per eye. Now add a monitor with a relatively high resolution. This is the equivalent of rendering in three screens. On top of that, you need a steady 60 fps or more at least. Add the inherent latency between input devices or controllers, and in some cases like the VIVE the player’s position tracking, and most computers will struggle.
2. As a developer you reduce your market size greatly, as now you need a computer with VR capable specs and a lot more power on top of it for the game itself.
3. There may be projects already working on this, but those will not be indie developers. These projects usually take 2+ years for completion. Given VR devices hit the consumer market about a year ago, there is still some time.
4. Notable exceptions are AAA games that were or are being ported to VR, such as Fallout 4 or Resident Evil 7, but these were games successful on their own, so the companies are not taking a major risk with the ports.
To Summarise it up, “ Photo realistic VR experiences take a considerable amount of money to pull off. Firstly, you need a high enough resolution screen, and what we have is about 1/10th the resolution of where we need to be. Secondly, along with the higher resolution screen you’d need to be able to push a realistic graphics simulation to a headset at 90+fps consistently, otherwise you run the risk of ruining the immersion.
The hardware just isn’t there yet, as there isn’t a graphics card in existence today with the horsepower and driver software to pilot something as crazy as photo-realistic VR.”
The hardware requirements for a given level of graphics are much higher for VR than they are for a single monitor (or even a triple monitor). To put this in perspective, for VR you need to render probably 5x as many raw pixels as you do for the output of a current console at 1080p, you need to do additional post processing on them when you’re done, and you need to do it three times as fast (90+ vs 30fps). S
o you’re talking about (in an oversimplified way) 10 to 15x hardware requirements for the same content vs a console fame. And you can never have dropped frames or stutter (things like Time Warp mitigate the impact but it’s still critical). So this right away means you won’t be able to use the same poly counts and do the same shaders – the secret sauce – that make modern games look amazing.
The total VR market right now is in the low single digit millions across all platforms (Vive, Rift, PSVR) and it’s tricky to do cross-platform yet. So you need to pay for your development with 1/50th or less the potential audience you have with a conventional game. That means you’re not going to have $100m budgets and the offices full of texture artists, shader makers, and modelers required to build the detailed worlds you see in big AAA titles. So if you want to make a game, you need to focus your limited budget on the kind of titles and content that you can execute well with the team your market size will support.
And that doesn’t tend to be the photo-realistic, precisely-rendered environments you can do with big budgets and lower pixel/frame rate requirements.
VR will arrive and make it big soon, just not now.
Give it some time.