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With PlayStation recently announcing their newest hardware addition, Playstation VR, alongside with Oculus and Vive pushing virtual reality into mainstream gaming, it's exciting to think where the future of gaming could go. But out of all the announcements of non-traditional games being developed, one has me more excited than any other: Pokemon Go. 'But Pokemon Go isn't virtual reality' I can imagine some of you are thinking, and you're absolutely correct. Types of games that are similar in scope to Pokemon Go are called Augmented Reality Games. Simply put augmented reality is when we take something familiar, such as our environment, and add things to it in a way that it seems normal. A great example is using Microsoft Hololens to play Minecraft on top of your coffee table
Virtual Reality instead use completely artificial environments and present them to our senses, mostly sight and sound, in a way that makes us feel like that's where we actually are. I had a chance to play the virtual reality game Daydream Blue being developed by RalphVR (http://ralphvr.com/). In Daydream Blue, you are at home in a valley where you have activities like fishing, golf on the mountains, or camping, and while it's not the most visually stunning game, I found myself believing in this polygon valley and my robot companion. And that's the power and potential of virtual reality and augmented reality games. If development of V.R. and A.R. products can match the pace of video game development, then we are bound to have incredible V.R. and A.R. experiences in our lifetime.
Yet it begs the question: will one of these two mediums of gaming pull ahead of the other, and truly pioneer the next big step in gaming?
Virtually reality is obviously the most immersive, and has the most to offer in terms of types of games they can create. However, with a pricetag of $400 for PlayStation VR, and $600 for the Oculus Rift (neither of these prices include outside hardware needed for gameplay) you are going to need very deep pockets to keep up with virtual reality games while they are still in their infancy stage. Perhaps in a few years we will see either a decrease in cost for their hardware, or substitutions similar to Google Cardboard ($15) will become the preference of the economic gamer.
Where the price point of virtual reality hardware is currently causing it from becoming a huge platform, augmented reality instead keeps the price simple. Most augmented reality software is developed for your smart phone, which everyone has these days. By 2107, its projected that around 2.9 billion people will have and use a smartphone. That's 2.9 billion people who already have the hardware needed to engage in augmented reality gaming. And while people are engaging with smartphone A.R., this allows time for hardware developers to find the most cost efficient way to create devices which augment our reality.
Sure A.R. is not nearly as stunning (or honestly, as cool in many cases) as V.R., but the everyday gamer can afford it, and that might be the deciding factor that pushes the industry forward. Which do you think will push the evolution of gaming? Does V.R. have an edge over A.R. that might make it more dominant?