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If you're a fan of gaming, you've no doubt dabbled in the world of VR (Virtual Reality) thanks to some of the biggest names headed to the new platform. Franchises such as DOOM, Fallout, and even new titles such as Archangel as well as Farpoint have done so with haste.
The experience has become a phenomenon that has led to companies such as Sony, HTC, and Oculus investing heavily in the technology. All three have competed against each other over the past few years, wrestling over an admittedly small consumer base. Each one has attracting exclusive game releases due to their hardware, but there's something underneath it all that developers are forgetting. There are people that will not convert too VR; they can't afford it, or they simply suffer from health conditions or motion sickness. It brings forth the question we should be asking: Are these companies alienating their fanbase by developing VR only experiences?
Developers Have Ignored A Massive Fanbase By Going VR Only
Let's use an example here. If you were to go to Steam, you've glanced over a healthy amount of VR games. Games such as Dead Moon, Archangel, and Giant Cop: Justice Above All will pop up. They're extremely popular among PC gamers and have garnered a healthy amount of attention.
If you hop onto the PlayStation Store, the results are going to be rather similar. You'll see games such as Farpoint, Archangel, RIGs, and many, many more games on the list of PS VR must-haves. The issue here? Not many people actually own the PlayStation VR headset. It's expensive. Expensive enough that some fans have just opted out all together due to the cost being around the same as a PlayStation 4 Pro or Xbox One S.
Developing games strictly for VR hasn't just alienated some fans. It has made it near impossible for some with vision impairments or disorders that restrict them from playing. After all, VR does require two eyes to properly see VR in its 3D design. With depth perception gone, it does make things a bit harder, and even Kotaku's very own Richard Eisenbeis took on the task of finding out if VR works properly with one eye.
The Problem With VR Only Versions Isn't Limited To Cost
While expense could be an issue, let's not also forget that some will be restricted by physical space and teething problems endemic in new hardware. So much so that VR sickness is a real deal and players have been blacking out as well as getting sick from playing. IGN even wrote an article on how to avoid it. My own personal experience left me reeling with vertigo for a solid few minutes after playing DOOM VFR a year ago at QuakeCon 2016. There's no doubt I'll be a glutton for punishment and go back once more.
Does This Mean VR Is A Bad Thing?
No. VR isn't a bad thing at all. In all honesty, there's a ton of support out there for it. There's Reddit groups, Facebook Communities, and developers lined up at the door to get involved. Even psychologists are using VR to help people with mental illnesses such as agoraphobia so they can leave their houses one small virtual step at a time.
VR has a lot of uses. Want to really immerse yourself in your game? Tug down a VR headset and unwind. Want to do a puzzle without making a mess? Put on your VR headset. Even the military has begun using VR for research and training purposes. The sky is the limit with this burgeoning technology, but we have to remember one thing as consumers and game industry specialists. We are limited in what we can currently do.
Those of us who want to experience great games such as Far Point, Archangel, DOOM VFR, and even Giant Cop aren't able to. Not because we don't want to, but because we can't due to the VR's high barrier of entry. Even games such as SuperHot have proven that VR isn't necessarily required in order to create an amazing title. For now, however, our fingers will need to remain crossed about whether or not we will receive VR-free versions of games out that we've missed out on.