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It’s been about a month since CES 2016 showed off some of the hottest tech for the upcoming year, and a lot of the buzz was about virtual reality. VR systems for in-home entertainment have been teased and demo’d for some time now, but they finally went mainstream at CES. This is what we learned.

There Are More Than A Few Virtual Reality Devices

VRHeadset_1Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus… These are the names that have come to represent VR to a lot of casual consumers-in-waiting who have seen various demos from high-end tech and gaming companies working on headsets. But if CES 2016 taught us one overarching thing about this soon-to-boom industry, it’s that there are a ton of different headset options out there. Among the VR displays that turned heads at the conference, PC Mag pointed out several very capable devices that were more or less unheard of to most casual observers. Some will likely die out as a result of pure competition over time, but this may be a denser market than we thought.

The Best Systems Are Going To Be Pricey

It’s probably for the best that there so many VR devices that appear to be on the way, because the high-end ones are going to cost a lot of money. Evidently, the first consumer-ready Oculus Rift headsets will cost $600 and starts shipping this March (pre-orders already went up in early January), according to CNET. That means this is more like buying a next-gen console (as in one step further than PS4 and Xbox One) than simply purchasing an add-on to your existing gaming setup and keep in mind these VR devices require additional hardware to function (e.g. Oculus Rift requires a very powerful computer).

No Major Casino Games Yet

Those paying attention to gaming ideas for VR may have noticed that one of the more interesting ideas for an industry-expanding innovation was that VR could represent the future of the online casino industry. Already, we see online casinos striving to engineer the most realistic possible gambling scenarios, to the point that the table games at Betfair now carry the option to play games with live dealers. In other words, when you select one of the roulette, sic bo, or blackjack games available, you get the virtual experience of interacting with a human dealer. Experiences like this enhance online casino play by making gamers feel like they’re sitting in actual casinos, and many have picked up on the idea that VR could take this to a new level. At least at CES, however, there were no major announcements about this potentially lucrative move for the industry.

But There Are A Whole Lot Of Games

A lot of the speculation about VR systems, beyond price and capability, has surrounded games. And while the casino industry has been something that some are eyeing as a potential major player, we’ve also been waiting on confirmation of a lot of rumored titles and concepts that might be headed to VR. And at CES 2016, we saw some demos, heard some announcements, and in general were promised much more. A recap by Fox News mentioned the likes of the upcoming VR Minecraft game, Rockband VR, and games called Edge Of Nowhere (by Insomniac) and The Climb (by Crytek). These were just a few of the specific titles headlining the promise that the Oculus alone will support over 100 new games by the end of this year.

And It’s Not Just About Games

Perhaps most interesting of all was that CES and some of the stories that surrounded it focused not solely on gaming (which is how we’ve all come to think of VR) but also on additional applications for these advices. Sticking with entertainment, we heard about the potential for film in VR through a simulation of portions of the 2015 movie The Martian, which was demo’d for fans. And aside from entertainment, there’s been talk since CES of VR being useful for travel booking, real estate, and numerous other industries.

All things considered, there was no doubt that VR dominated CES this year, and it’s easy to see why. It’s going to be an incredibly exciting time once this tech becomes available to the mass market, and we’re still just getting started.


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