Virtual reality (VR) has already had a big year. Valve has announced the HTC Vive, Oculus VR has revealed a release window for the Oculus Rift and Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) has announced a new prototype of Project Morpheus. But 2015 is far from over and we’re still hoping to learn much more about these head-mounted displays (HMDs), and even see a few release, before years’ end. Much of that news will likely come next week at the 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) gets underway in Los Angeles, California.
We already know that Oculus VR will talk more about the consumer Oculus Rift at a pre-event show later this week. We already know that SCE will detail Project Morpheus further during its annual press conference on 15th June. But there’s still so much that could be shown at the event. Will Valve and HTC have an update on the Vive? Is Oculus VR planning anything for its mobile HMD, Gear VR? Which other developers and publishers will pledge support to the technology?
In terms of that latter question, this year’s publisher press conferences are certainly going to be interesting to watch. Bethesda, EA, Ubisoft and Square Enix all have their own events this year and we’re hoping that VR will play a role in at least some of them. Ubisoft is the only one of these four to have confirmed that it is working with VR thus far. As much as everyone would like to see Fallout 4 in VR, Bethesda’s parent company, Zenimax Media, is having legal issues with Oculus VR that might prevent this from happening, no matter what the developer itself says. As for EA and Square Enix? It’s entirely possible that they’ll be there to support VR’s launch.
Indie developers have played a much larger role at more recent E3 events. The community has been a strong supporter of VR from the start, free from the restrictions of risk-averse publishers. We’d expect the bulk of titles to be announced at E3 to be from this ecosystem, then, whether made of their own accord or with help from other companies such as SCE, which played a hand in bringing KO-OP’s GNOG to Project Morpheus, as an example.
There’s a lot that Valve could reveal about the HTC Vive at this point in time, though, with developer kits only just arriving for the first to apply for them, E3 may be a little too soon for any of these announcements to be made. We’re still waiting to hear a specific release date outside of the holiday 2015 window along with pricing, but Valve traditionally makes announcements on its own terms. As seen with the Steam hardware reveals earlier this month, the company can make these big reveals at its own choosing and E3 might not be the time to do that.
As for Gear VR, the device is at a crossroads at this point in time, and a major update may not arrive until the reveal of the consumer version of the device later on in the year. Perhaps some new apps and videogames will make their debut at the event but, of the four major HMDs, this is the one we expect to hear the least from at this year’s show.
The expectation is that E3 is going to be a historic week for VR with an avalanche of new reveals. VRFocus will be there to cover every bit of news as it happens, also providing in-depth hands-on previews and interviews with those working with technology. It’s going to be a big week and we’ll have all of the latest for you.