For most people, gaming represented the ultimate “initial” market for the extended reality landscape. Some of the very first mainstream examples of augmented and virtual reality were delivered directly to the entertainment world, and many were met with significant levels of demand.
Ever since the early days of exciting new concepts like Pokémon Go, games developers and entertainment companies have been doubling down on their investments into immersive experiences.
Even now, in a world where XR is becoming a tool for a multitude of professional tasks, gaming still stands as a major area. It accounts for a significant share of the XR market, which is set to reach a value of $300 billion by 2030.
Let’s take a closer look at XR’s impact on the gaming world today.
The Potential for XR in Gaming
For years, games developers have battled to create more immersive, memorable, and engaging experiences for their fans. From the development of newer, faster games consoles to more intelligent chipsets and phenomenal graphics, games have come a long way. XR represents a new frontier for this landscape, promising to bring gamers into experiences like never before.
XR brings real-world and virtual elements together like never before, to create interactive experiences which enlighten and inspire. The gaming industry is perhaps one of the most significant spaces empowering the shift to mainstream XR technologies.
For instance, the Oculus Quest 2, one of the world’s top gaming headsets, sold 15 million units after 20 months on the market, even during a pandemic.
For the gaming world, the potential for XR varies depending on the flavour of technology. The biggest focus areas include:
- Virtual Reality: VR games have gained significant attention in recent years with the rise of affordable headsets like the Oculus Quest. Today, countless developers are producing VR versions of their games, and embracing VR to open the door to the new potential the “metaverse” has to offer.
- Augmented Reality: Pokémon Go marked a significant turning point in the way we play on our smartphones and mobile devices. AR has opened a new door for games developers to combine the real and virtual worlds for immersive interactions. Niantic even developed a software development package specifically for creating games in AR.
- Mixed Reality: Extended Reality even unlocks opportunities for more immersive in-person gaming experiences. Location-based entertainment venues and arcades can offer immersive experiences and “escape rooms” for users with Mixed Reality. The concept paves the way for a whole new avenue of entertainment options.
Trends Driving XR in Gaming
The gaming community is always hungry for the newest, most immersive, and powerful experiences. It’s no surprise the environment has taken to extended reality as rapidly as we’ve seen in the last couple of years. Now, consumers are growing increasingly accustomed to seeing XR versions of their favourite games appearing on app stores and games consoles.
At the same time, games developers are discovering new opportunities with the XR realm. Using immersive technology, creators can start to build more community-driven gaming experiences for the Metaverse, and build groups of adoring fans for their brand. Some of the major trends driving the evolution of XR in gaming include:
- Transformative hardware: The gaming industry is no stranger to the concept of constantly updating hardware and consoles. Now, there’s a new focus area for developers and creators to work on in the XR space. With more advanced screens, spatial sound solutions, and more powerful headsets available at an affordable price, games leaders are giving everyone the opportunity to experience more amazing virtual worlds.
- The merge of XR and AI: One of the most important steps in creating a powerful gaming experience is designing the right user interface. Artificial Intelligence in the XR landscape gives developers the opportunity to make interacting with an environment feel more natural. Face and gesture tracking solutions, and AI systems capable of understanding movement can make the first-person experience more organic.
- The Metaverse: Virtually every major gaming company, from Sony and Microsoft to Ubisoft is now investing in the Metaverse. Focusing on the concept of community-driven and engaging online experiences, the Metaverse landscape offers a new opportunity for games developers to connect with their customers in new and improved ways. We can even hold virtual events and games demonstrations in XR.
- Haptic Feedback: As gamers search for more ways to feel connected to the experiences they have in the console world, new technologies are emerging. Haptic feedback, where people can actually feel zombies jumping at them in a shooting game, or sense the vibrations of something moving in the distance, is becoming more popular. This new level of immersion will make every gaming experience far more memorable.
- 5G: For AR and mobile-based virtual experiences in particular, the rise of more powerful levels of connectivity will be crucial. Already, we’re seeing leaders in the gaming industry achieving better outcomes with blending physical and digital worlds through 5G connections. These connections could also pave the way for improvements to MR and VR event experiences and in-person hybrid gaming.
Exploring the Future of XR in Gaming
The future of XR in gaming has some significant potential. The gaming landscape has always been one of the primary areas for developers and creators innovating in the extended reality space. As we move forward into a new era of entertainment, we’re sure to see endless new examples of pioneering technology emerge.
The key to success will be learning how to navigate potential challenges, from the risks of preserving privacy and safety in the metaverse, to ensuring users remain safe when using XR applications in the physical world. The good news is there’s still significant room for growth.
As new technologies continue to emerge, and the tools available for creating XR hardware and software grow more accessible, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish.