Back in 2016, VR was the big story on everyone's lips. But at E3 2017, hardware has stalled somewhat, in favour of bring proper games and content to the headsets we know and love.
Let's take it back a bit. The holiday season of 2016 was a bumper time for VR. PlayStation cashed in, shifting over a million PlayStation VR headsets, and the internet was abuzz with iPhone-friendly VR headsets. It seemed the bandwagon was unstoppable – but the big question mark was over content.
But at E3, Sony and Steam, the names that have emerged as VR front-runners, started to answer those questions.
In terms of AAA games, Fallout 4 VR will come to HTC Vive this year, which is a huge coup for virtual reality, as is Doom VFR, which will land on Vive and PS VR. Add to that the roster of games Sony unveiled, such as Supermassive Games' The Inpatient and it's clear that brands are holding position and letting the content catch up with the tech.
It's evident that VR is switching up a gear, after the flurry of hardware last year saw consumer released for PlayStation VR, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. But it's the latter that was strangely absent from the E3 story. Facebook-owned Oculus VR may have set the agenda, but it seems way off the pace, even from the buzz of Google Daydream and the Samsung Gear VR.
Oculus didn't even have a presence at E3, and while it had some partners showing off games like Echo Arena, it doesn't seem to be in the plans of any of the big games publishers. If AAA content isn't part of Facebook's strategy for Oculus Rift, you have to wonder where any scale is going to come from.
And one has to question Microsoft's strategy too. It released Project Scorpio (now called the Xbox One X), which it described as its VR console back in June 2016. The Xbox One X was unveiled at E3, with no mention of VR – and company big-wigs are now insisting that the PC is the best place for virtual reality.
Of course, the week wasn't all about VR. Sony's FES Watch U, the e-paper screen watch you might remember from back in 2015, has actually hit the shelves – but still in Japan. We've been lusting over the crowdfund project, which lets you create striking watch faces for the display for years now. Just let it loose on the world, Sony!
And finally, the other big story to catch our eye this week was the continued rumours around Snapchat AR specs. Spectacles, the camera-toting sunnies that have propelled Snap Inc. from waning dick pic purveyor to wearable tech visionaries, are still enjoying a worldwide rollout, but new reports indicate the company is looking to take things to the next level.
Snapchat has acquired AR startup Cimagine, has patented AR specs and a source has revealed the new specs in development to be "significantly different" from the original glasses.
We're sure Snapchat is a cool enough brand not to fall into the Glasshole nightmare that Google found itself in when it released Google Glass back in 2014. And it's somehow managed to circumvent the privacy row about recording from glasses – but can it marry AR into a consumer-friendly package at this stage? Colour us skeptical…
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