Gaming Grows Up: From Virtual Reality to Mobile Magic

Oculus Rift and Virtual RealityThere’s a lot to like in the gaming industry this year. While companies like Nintendo flounder, others are finding that they might just end up being the next big thing. Virtual reality headsets, cloud gaming, and mobile market enhancements are promising to change the way users play. In fact, it could be a renaissance in gaming, opening the doors for new gamers.

Oculus Rift and Virtual Reality

Artists and engineers have long been toying with the idea of a virtual reality – a place where you could escape the real world and drown in a fantasy land. And, while World of Warcraft certainly does qualify as a form of escapism, it’s not exactly virtual reality.

But, this year, the Oculus Rift is making its debut. It’s a set of wearable VR glasses with a focus on video game display. There’s no hard release date yet, but rumor has it that you should look out for these things late 2014.

There will be knock-offs, but there will undoubtedly be worthy challengers too. And, expect new motion controls like the PrioVR full-body suit. Controllers? Where we’re going, we don’t need any controllers.

Mobile Gaming

Nintendo is learning a hard lesson right now. Its Wii U is a flop, and its attempt to compete with tablets (with that funky controller setup) is too. Mobile platforms, however, are embracing even hardcore titles. The A7 chip, and iOS7 support for controllers makes iPhone, iPads, and any other future iDevice a force to be reckoned with in the mobile gaming space.

Forget Angry Birds, this year, consumers will see ports of classic game titles as well as new franchises from big-name developers. Heck, even Square Enix has released its popular Final Fantasy series on the iPhone and it plays amazingly well.

Steam Machines

PC gamers have forever used Valve – the developer behind the Half-Life series as well as the popular Steam game download platform. But, Valve wants to open up its large selection of games to more than the hardcore PC crowd. It wants to bring games into your living room.

Steam machines aren’t for de-wrinkling your drapes. They’re pre-built gaming PCs that will run on Valve’s unique Linux-based SteamOS. It’s an operating system with a single purpose: gaming. Since a lot of Steam machines exceed a $1,000 price tag, it’s really difficult to say whether these will actually take off. They are marketed more like computers than consoles.

It also makes one wonder whether platforms like this really still just appeal to the same crowd that uses download clients like Vuze P2P for games authorized by copyright holders for free distribution, instead of the Wii Shop Channel.

Critics aren’t hopeful, but gamers are. A prebuilt machine for gaming is actually a lot cheaper than building your own, and it’s also made to work with the company’s platform, so you pretty much know what you’re getting when you buy. With a large collection of games already, the company doesn’t need to sell anything new here. With the sticker price, though, it might only appeal to high-end users – the ones with BMWs in the garage.

Jason Grover is obsessed with revolutionary technology. He loves blogging about news and trends in the tech industry for other enthusiasts to enjoy.

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