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VR Games Boom 220%, AR Moves Beyond Pokemon

Is virtual reality finally becoming a market reality? According to new research by Futuresource Consulting, VR games content is on the rise, with 220 per cent growth expected by the close of the year. VR gaming and head mounted displays (HMDs) continue to sell, even as the original hype for the products fades.

“Mass market uptake is going to be gradual, but it is going to happen,” says an optimistic Michael Boreham, Senior Market Analyst. “As the VR sector moves forward from a relatively low base, content will continue to evolve, the user experience will improve and the investment threshold for consumers will continue to fall. By the end of 2018, VR games content will have achieved a global sales value of $1.3 billion, setting it on a steady course for success.”

Full game sales and downloaded content are expected to dominate the VR games market, says the tracking service, with Steam and Oculus leading the way in PC VR and mobile VR.

Futuresource believes that PlayStation VR will remain the only choice in the console space. It says Microsoft has reversed its previous decision to bring VR capability to Xbox One, and Nintendo is not talking up prospects for the technology, despite patents for the Nintendo Switch indicating some level of VR functionality for VR.

Future booms are likely to come from Mobile VR, says Boreham. “It’s the best option for establishing a virtual reality foothold in the mass market,” he says, “and we’ll see it branch into two distinct routes. Google’s Cardboard platform will play a key role in entry-level VR, whereas the introduction of second generation all-in-one HMDs from the likes of Lenovo and HTC, as well as the launch of Oculus Quest in 2019, will bring more immersive VR capability to the mobile VR sector, with each device offering the user a full six degrees of freedom.”

Mobile VR has lost visibility on the high street, as retailers have reduced VR product placement and SKU depth in store. However, the industry continues to push ahead with innovations, says Boreham. The launch of ARKit and ARCore in mid-2017 has created a development platform for AR applications for Android and iOS mobile platforms respectively.

In the augmented reality space, there has been some forward momentum. Futuresource is forecasting AR gaming sales of more than $0.6 billion in 2018. “By 2022, we forecast global sales of HMDs to reach 250 million units, by which time the combined market value for VR and AR games software will be knocking on the door of $13 billion.”

The technology, which overlays virtual elements onto real world environments, continues to appeal to gamers. Pokémon Go has been joined by similar AR gaming experiences, based on the Harry PotterJurassic World and Ghostbusters film franchises.