Is virtual reality the future of gaming?

Oculus is at the forefront of the virtual reality movement.

Many companies have started to make their newest games available to play in virtual reality (VR). What does that say for the gamers who don’t have the money for a fancy VR headset or a computer strong enough to run games with supreme graphics. Will they be left in the dust while more and more game designers are making exclusively VR games?

VR games were first being made by small companies or solo game designers. Larger more successful game companies didn’t want to shovel money into a new style of gaming if it was going to flop. So it was up to the smaller gaming companies to make the earlier VR games worthwhile.

The Oculus Rift, Source: Oculus Rift

These small companies made some great examples of what could be done with VR gaming, titles like Budget Cuts, Boneworks, and Job Simulator. This in turn gained the interest of the larger companies to think about making new VR titles. Followers of these companies started to question what would happen to the users who didn’t own VR systems or could afford a better rig to run these games.

Larger companies are still slow to create VR titles, but more and more are announcing their move towards virtual games. Companies like Stress Level Zero and Steel Wool have made amazing examples of great VR experiences in the horror genre. Stress Level Zero with the creation of Duck Season, a Duck Hunt styled horror game, and Steel Wool and Scott Cawthon with Five Nights at Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted.

A large portion of gamers still either don’t have a VR headset or a computer strong enough to run these new games. With Valve’s newest announcement of their next game, Half Life: Alyx, being a VR exclusive title, people are worried that those without a VR system will be left out. Valve’s Half Life series has tons of followers that both own VR and don’t own one.

Half-Life: Alyx, Source: Steam

Five Nights at Freddy’s VR is taking the steps in allowing gamers without VR setups to play their game. As of Dec 17, players who don’t own a VR system can play the newest installment of Five Nights at Freddys. If they end up getting a VR down the line, they will be able to play it in VR mode. Steel Wool is looking out for the gamers who love the franchise but don’t have the money to afford equipment required to play the games.

This is a great sign to see from a big-gaming company. It shows that companies still care about gamers who don’t have the money to get a VR system. This does raise the question, will other companies begin following Steel Wool’s trend? As of the time of writing, Five Nights at Freddy’s Non-VR has not been released. The gameplay has not been shown, or hinted how it will work. That does raise some red flags in how the game will handle. Will it work well and smooth, or difficult and hard to control?

Five Nights at Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted, Source: Steam

Another question is how will the frame rate be for gamers with lower end computer systems. These games are run in large environments with very detailed graphics. Most VR gamers need to have an impressive gaming rig to be able to run these games at such high frame rates. With some of these games returning to basic PC gaming, will gamers with low end computers have frame rate issues, or will developers manage to lower the graphics to compensate.

Overall, we hope to see gaming companies not just leave regular PC gamers in the dust and move on to VR gaming. VR games are amazing for their time, but we don’t want others to be left behind. Steel Wool is setting a great example with making their VR title backwards compatible. Let’s hope that others follow in their footsteps.

Austin Wisniewski is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.