Atli Mar Sveinsson is the CEO & Co-Founder at Directive Games. Headquartered in Shanghai, Directive Games is made up of veteran game developers, focused on developing amazing mobile game experiences and the technology that drives them.
We asked him for his take on the rise of virtual reality (VR), and whether the revolution is real.
Much has been made of the “Virtual Reality Revolution.” What does this really entail and how close are we to seeing VR become a true mainstay?
Before we talk about a new “VR revolution”, it is important to note that people have been trying to make virtual reality a mainstay for years now. However, previous attempts were always held back by limitations in hardware and processing power. At the same time, it is necessary to point out that while we’ve seen improvements in terms of technology, the nature of VR and its applications hasn’t really changed. Virtual reality as a medium still relies most heavily on emotion, while video games and entertainment both remain fundamentally linked to the concept of storytelling.
That being said, however, VR does represent the next great leap for the gaming industry, and offers a completely new paradigm for interacting with content – both passive and interactive. We as a society are evolving in terms of how we both perceive and consume content, and VR has allowed us to create an entirely new gaming experience that plays directly into this evolution.
But this is just the first step. Gaming has certainly helped drum up excitement for virtual reality, and has definitely pushed the market forward, but it’s only a matter of time before it begins to have an impact in other areas, such as the automotive and medical industries. And this, I believe, is the key to its long term growth as a platform.
If Moore’s Law holds true, I believe we should have sufficient hardware for individual early adopters to utilise VR in a number of new fields by the end of 2016. Then, about 1.5 to 2 years later, I think we’ll see an explosion in popularity, where VR not only goes mainstream, but also becomes a viable money maker. Yet this is only possible if the technology – and mobile in particular – continues to evolve as needed. Upgraded sensors, better handsets, and stronger precision tracking are all necessary if we want to see VR take off among casual, mass market users.
Moving forward, how would you most like to see VR utilised? What will be the biggest challenge in making this a reality?
I would like to see VR used more as a platform for content creation, and not just an experiential tool. This means creating more content within VR (and not just for VR), and getting the technology in the hands of people outside the gaming industry.
With regards to gaming specifically, although we’ve seen major progress in recent years, I am still waiting for that moment for when VR gaming becomes something that not only interests people, but something that truly captivates them. I want VR to keep people coming back for more, and to become something they both want and need.
This can be achieved through great content, and we’ve seen great strides not only in gaming, but also in the realm of sports, to give just one example. With VR, people can experience sports like never before, and can interact not only with the game itself, but also other fans. This “social” side of VR is at present vastly under-developed, and although a major challenge, I believe it represents a major opportunity for content developers across a range of industries.
Social interaction and technological limitations aside, I think the biggest challenges to VR’s continued growth are issues relating to price, access, and convenience, as current headsets are both expensive and still a bit bulky. R&D will also be incredibly important in the days ahead, and it is crucial that we start investing in the future now. The only way for VR to become a viable ecosystem is for everyone to buy in, not just gaming companies. If we can create an environment for cross-industry collaboration, I think we’ll be able to truly maximise the platform’s potential.