Make it a (Virtual) Reality: E3 2014

This is a dream for many of us. You’re at E3. You’re not sitting at home, cursing the computer screen as the livestream buffers once again, but actually sitting in the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, waiting for Sony Computer Entertainment’s (SCE) E3 press briefing to start. Around you, esteemed members of the media gather and start to shuffle laptops and bags under chairs. In front of you SCE executives find their places, with the likes of Kaz Hirai and Andrew house calmly chattering away. The lights begin to fade and anticipated cheers rise up around you. E3 2014 is about to begin.

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Following E3 isn’t so much of a tradition for videogame enthusiasts as it is a religion. What started out as a humble trade show for the benefit of retailers has steadily grown into what is now without question the biggest event in the industry’s calendar. Every year we all gather in anticipation to see what the biggest companies have prepared for us, with an undeniable sense of excitement lingering in the air before each one. As livestreaming technology has progressed, fans have been able to get closer and closer to the show in recent years, watching Microsoft, SCE, EA and Ubisoft’s conferences in high quality. But what if we could go a step further? What if we could attend E3 ourselves?

Last week VRFocus discussed the challenges of demonstrating virtual reality (VR) headsets on-stage. But when the devices are actually out there, companies such as SCE can look into whole new ways of marketing their products at events such as E3. We know 360-degree video is possible, in fact companies such as Figure Digital are now striving to make it a commercial reality. If SCE could crack live streaming in 360 degrees with a Project Morpheus VR headset, wouldn’t that be a fantastic way to bring fans closer to the E3 experience?

The company is already looking at new ways to air its conference on 9th June 2014, bringing it to several movie theatres across America and Canada. But what better way to prove the potential of your VR headset than to allow users to come and sit at an event they’ve always dreamed of watching in person? Livestreams help convey a sense of the atmosphere gathered in the huge halls as developers stun crowds with their latest gameplay trailers and demos, but VR can bringing fans that bit closer to the excitement.

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And it doesn’t stop at the conferences. SCE has experimented with virtual tours of E3 before, letting PlayStation Home players walk around a digitally recreated version of its booth. It would be hard to pull off live, but perhaps after the show is over, fans could be given the chance to walk around the show floor in its entirety. Obviously interacting with the many, many booths to play the latest titles wouldn’t be possible, but it would still be an exciting experience.

Obviously the only issues that arise are over just what the company would show. We doubt that SCE would let users watch the Microsoft conference in the same fashion, though perhaps the Ubisoft and EA conferences could still be streamed. Unless the Xbox creator has a VR headset of its own to show us any time soon or reaches a deal with Oculus VR, we’d likely only be getting the SCE side of the event.

Still, many videogame fans have long dreamed of going to E3. VR offers them the opportunity to get that much closer to the event. Let’s hope this time next year we can slip a headset on to enjoy the latest from PlayStation.

VRFocus will be on the ground next week for extensive coverage of E3 2014.

‘Make it a (virtual) Reality’ is VRFocus’ weekly feature that takes the videogames we already know and love and looks at how virtual reality (VR) could enhance them. From retro classics to modern blockbusters, we examine the pros and cons of bringing a franchise to VR headsets. 

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