In this edition of Massively Overthinking, Kickstarter backer Yinta wants to talk about virtual reality.
“When will we see the first VR MMO?”
So let’s tackle those upcoming VR MMOs (and borderline MMOs), whether VR MMOs are something you want to see, and whether VR is going to flop in MMO vs. the broader market. I posed Yinta’s topic to our writers; read on to see what they said.
Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): It seems to me that the MMOs tackling VR most seriously are all sci-fi crossover MMOs, not pure MMORPGs — EVE (with Valkyrie), Elite: Dangerous, and so forth. Wander might be one of the few fantasyish MMOs I’ve seen commit serious support to VR; a Massively writer who played it a few years back said it was amazing.
I’ve never been obsessed about VR in any of the games I play. Truthfully, I have an overactive imagination and don’t have much trouble getting deeply immersed in a flat-screen game that makes a modicum of effort. Plus, I really love isometric and third-person viewpoints and prefer them to first-person already. On the other hand, new tech shinies! I’m not entirely sure MMORPGs need it, either; it’s a market that is traditionally several years behind the bleeding-edge graphics curve, which is probably right where it needs to be to mop up midcore gamers.
Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): We might already have them if you consider MMOs that allow for Oculus Rift support as VR. But if you’re talking about a game designed top-down to be virtual reality… I don’t know if we’ll ever see one. It’s an interesting concept, to be sure, but the technology will need to be as widely available as possible, because niche technology coupled with niche gaming is not going to equal great sales. Computers, consoles, and mobile devices are far more widespread, so that’s where the bulk of the development’s going to lie.
MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): When I was playing tabletop, I thought the coolest thing ever would be to play the campaigns in virtual reality. Can you imagine watching your spells be cast and your companions shooting and slashing instead of just saying/hearing it? (Or in my case, watching the insane friend nap on an evil deity’s alter or throw himself down a bottomless hole “just to see”!) I wanted a full-on holodeck experience!
Then I found MMOs and was really excited because they offered a good measure of what I was wanting: a visual component to my adventures. Do I still yearn for that full VR experience? Yes. And I’ve gotten a taste of a little more of it with Elite: Dangerous on the Oculus Rift. I’ve also seen the full-body VR demos at E3, which are geared towards single-player shooters. But I do not think that MMOs are a great medium for the VR tools we have so far, with maybe the exception of Wander. Just look at all the UI elements we have and the things we need to click on, from bags to skills. Until there is a full holodeck experience, MMOs are too involved to convert. Besides all that, I don’t necessarily think the majority of gamers will pay for the privilege; they already go up in arms about small costs for expansions, DLCs, and subscriptions.
Patreon Donor Roger: We’re already seeing VR seep into the MMO space. Games like Elite: Dangerous and EVE are supporting it and Star Citizen is building it into their game. VR does has drawbacks like motion sickness and vertigo with some people, so kinks are still being worked out. I personally can’t wait for VR to finally hit the shelves and be ready for the public. Despite what people say about it being a gimmick or fad. I’ve seen 3-D and VR technology before, but what I’m hearing about it now and how good it is by so many Youtubers and people I’ve talked to who tried it that I’m on board. As for staying power, the game will have to be build with VR in mind, specifically for first-person view or non-fast combat. Something like Star Trek Online, maybe, but for Guild Wars 2? Probably not.