4 Reasons Why 2016 Isn’t the Year of VR Gaming

Philip Bates 28-04-2016

Here we are, in the year of Virtual Reality (VR). Supposedly.


We’ve been promised the wonders of VR for some time now, but many think 2016 is when it’ll finally take off. Its natural applications are film-making VR Is About to Change Filmmaking Forever: Here's How Virtual reality is a new way of communicating with your viewer, and many people with a background in traditional filmmaking find the possibilities exciting. Read More and gaming, and developers are positive VR will change the face of both industries. Even Disney has jumped on the bandwagon Disney Invests Millions into VR Movies Google, Samsung and Facebook are in the process of releasing their VR ecosystems, and content creators are flocking back to it. Among them Disney, who recently invested $66 million USD in VR camera manufacturer Jaunt. Read More .

But let’s face it: 2016 won’t be the year of VR. It won’t become commonplace yet. And here’s why.

Lack of Big Franchise Names

It’d be amazing to be Mario, zooming down pipes, fighting Bowzer, and saving Princess Peach. Just imagine Mario Kart Excited About Mario Kart 8? Relive What Came Before! A lot of game franchises start off slowly and gradually build up a following. But Mario Kart burst into the gaming world and has never stood for anything less than brilliance. Read More !

It’s not going to happen, though. Unless Nintendo announces its upcoming console, nicknamed the NX for now How the Wii U's Failures Can Make Nintendo's NX a Success Nintendo's next console, codenamed the NX, is going to be huge. Potentially. But every company has stumbles. If Nintendo has another one, could it be The End? Read More , is actually a VR headset — which is very unlikely — that’s not going to change for some considerable time.

There’s a distinct lack of big gaming franchises The 5 Best Video Game Franchises Of All Time [MUO Gaming] The video game industry is incredibly sequel driven. Some franchises even talk about their next game before they make the first one. Bioware, for example, decided that Mass Effect was going to be a trilogy... Read More due out for VR headsets. Don’t get me wrong: many games look brilliant, but people like to see familiar names. It shows the industry’s confident enough to take a gamble on a new console or system. It means there’s a go-to game upon initial purchase. It’s a little bit of nostalgia Get Nostalgic: Four PS1 Games We Still Love Going Back To You can keep your Xbox One, PS4 and Wii U; the original PlayStation will always hold a special place in a generation's hearts. Read More in an unknown landscape. After all, people want the Wii U Own A Wii U Yet? These Games Will Make You Want One The Wii U isn't as popular as the Xbox One and Ps4. Yet. 2015 might be the year it all turns around. Why? Read More because it has Mario Maker and The Legend of Zelda.


But for VR, there’s no Call of Duty, no Grand Theft Auto, and no Lego. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Pokémon has unveiled an Augmented Reality (AR) app… but there’s no hope for them on VR right now. The biggest name thrown about so far is Minecraft, and that’s got a very select (though not inconsiderable) audience.

It’s not as if wanting a Mario platformer is unreasonable. Lucky’s Tale, an Oculus Rift exclusive, proves a platform-game is more than possible. These franchises will probably appear on VR headsets, but not in 2016.

Worry About Facebook

Facebook Unlike - resized

Oculus Rift was almost immediately the system everyone wanted. Certainly judging from the support on Kickstarter, it’s a popular device. Admittedly, it looks incredible Oculus Rift VR Simulations You Have To See To Believe You've seen the Oculus Rift, but you haven't seen some of the insane uses it's been put to. Check out these awesome Oculus Rift demos from around the world. Read More .


For many, however, their excitement was soured in 2014 when Facebook bought the company for the equivalent of $2 billion. Some felt it was a sell-out. People don’t trust Facebook – not only about its sometimes-questionable privacy conditions What Does Facebook Know About You? Why You Should Delete Facebook What does Facebook really know about you? One thing's for sure: if you want online privacy, Facebook is best avoided. Read More but also because the headset was supposed to be about gaming, and Facebook is about social networking. Sure, gaming can be a social experience, but that’s very different from updating your status and uploading photos.

Mark Zuckerberg — you’ve probably heard of him before — says they won’t shift primary focus from gaming, and that’s been reaffirmed by Oculus’ CEO, Palmer Luckey.

Privacy, too, remains a talking point. Facebook knows far too much Digital Shadow Exposes What Facebook Really Knows About You While it began as a mere marketing stunt, Ubisoft's Digital Shadow remains a very useful (and potentially scary) application that shows you how much people can find out about you from Facebook. Read More about its users already: add in the fact that Oculus Rift collects personal data (including address, online transactions, and usage patterns) and anyone who values their anonymity gets a serious headache.

This move also upset many of its initial 9,522 supporters, with backers arguing that they should get their collective $2,437,429 back. After all, Oculus Rift would still have plenty of cash left over!


You can say that’s nonsense; that Palmer and co. saw an opportunity to get greater support for their product and to make it affordable. Nonetheless, losing the support of early adopters is a bad move. These are the folk who were on Oculus Rift’s side straight away, and even though they’ve been given their rewards, this must have felt like a betrayal.

Negative Effects on the Brain

A lot has been said about motion sickness: some have ridiculed the notion that anyone using a VR headset will feel ill, while further still maintain that it’s a valid point. Right now, because they’re not owned by the mass public, it’s difficult to determine the ratio of how many actually feel sick in contrast to those who happily embrace the technology.

Simulation sickness (“sim-” and “cyber-sickness”) is likely caused by your brain registering conflicting feelings from different senses, so there’s a valley between what you’re seeing and what you’re smelling, feeling, or in some cases hearing.

That might be something many can adjust to easily, but bear in mind the negative reactions to 3D movies 7 Incredible 3D Movies Actually Worth Seeing In 3D There are too many movies where the 3D adds nothing to the overall experience. However, when done properly, 3D has the potential to blow you away. The following movies are prime examples. Read More : complaints about headaches seemed to have doomed that industry Are You Responsible for the Death of Cinema? Cinema is in its death throes. But why? Do we blame the directors of crappy films? The alternative viewing options now available? Or are you personally responsible? Let's figure this out. Read More .


Not everyone will feel sick. Not everyone will be skipping through virtual fields. It’s not a great leap, however, to imagine how tricking your mind will have other negative effects. That’s what VR is: tricking your brain into thinking you’re elsewhere. That’s bound to have a reaction, most notably increased adrenaline. It can be used to induce fear – which, in theory, could help people get over their phobias… or give them a heart attack.

Samsung’s Gear VR comes with a list of possible side-effects including loss of hand-eye co-ordination, balance, or multi-tasking ability, and further warns users:

“Take at least a 10 to 15 minute break every 30 minutes, even if you do not think you need it. Each person is different, so take more frequent and longer breaks if you feel discomfort. You should decide what works best.”

It also advises you not to use the headset while driving. Ahem.

Negative Effects on Your Eyes

If you dig into Gear VR’s disclaimer a bit more, you stumble upon a whole list of troubling symptoms:

“[S]eizures, loss of awareness, eye strain, eye or muscle twitching, involuntary movements, altered, blurred, or double vision or other visual abnormalities, dizziness, disorientation, impaired balance, impaired hand-eye coordination, excessive sweating, increased salivation, nausea, lightheadedness, discomfort or pain in the head or eyes, drowsiness, fatigue, or any symptoms similar to motion sickness.”

We’ve covered motion sickness, but few are considering how VR affects your eyes. Remember all those arguments about not sitting too close to the television? It’s due to very real worries about eyestrain, tiredness, and how signals are interpreted by your brain.

Our eyes’ accommodation-convergence reflex instinctively helps us focus on objects nearby and then objects far away (and vice versa), and some argue that VR causes an uncomfortable conflict around depth of field.

If we briefly consider one gaming giant: Sonic the Hedgehog. It works because we can process data at speed from a fair distance, but it would feel like a sensory overload for it to be first-person and up-close. Our eyes would certainly be subject to a barrage of over-the-top content. Potential developers would need to add some kind of in-game mechanism to slow down time, similar to the Oculus demo game, Bullet Train. And that might seem a tad disappointing.

A further concern is how immersed you’re actually going to be. It’s easy to become engrossed in a game, and this could leave a lasting impression. Lee Hutchinson played Elite: Dangerous on the Oculus Rift for an extended period of time, and discovered:

“[The] normally too-tiny-to-see pixel grid of the display is clearly visible, and staring at that grid for hours at a time is burning the pattern into my retinas… I can still faintly see this grid right now when I squeeze my eyes shut, in spite of the fact that I’ve had a solid night’s sleep. It’s superimposed over the usual retina noise I get when I close my eyes—or perhaps it’s better to say that it’s a very prominent part of the noise. It’s definitely less prominent than it was last night after a five-hour gaming session, but it’s still there.”

Are You Buying Into VR?

In addition to concerns about your eyes, a particularly active game could prove to be either a thorough workout or detrimental to your muscles. And then there are the security and privacy issues. And the expense!

Nonetheless, the three main headsets Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive vs. Playstation VR: Which Should You Buy? Virtual reality is right around the corner and there are three systems to choose from. Here's what you need to know to make an informed, smart decision. Read More are tempting people whose money is burning a hole in their pockets. Early adopters have already showed their support. Niggles and faults aren’t the core reason the public will largely be put off. There’s a lot of concerns that need addressing and ironing out.

Virtual Reality gaming might be the future. But we’re really not ready for it in 2016.

Related topics: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Virtual Reality.

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  1. Anonymous
    April 29, 2016 at 8:30 am

    I do agree that this year won't pick up vr like crazy but vr isn't going where. Vr has also been hampered by"exclusives" and price. Facebook, while helping oculus, has also put a sour taste in gamers mouths as you've stated.

    Eyestrain may be a issue for the early headsets but over the years the tech will be perfected. Playing for five hours with something strapped to your face is asking for trouble but the device should be capable without causing side effects.

    To be honest, I prefer that there are no "big names" pumping out the same cap every year. This is the time innovative and new ips can flutist without the worry of huge budgets and shareholders. This is probably the most innovative time when everyone is trying to see what works and what doesn't. Personally, the longer EA,Activision, konami etc..stay out of VR THE better.

    If the NX is the new virtual boy...may God have mercy on us all.