2016 has carried a lot of headlines about virtual reality gaming, and most of the attention has revolved around what the emergence of VR means for the future of gaming. We tend to imagine the potential of simple augmented experiences like Pokémon Go, as well as fully immersive new worlds on high-end VR headsets that will blaze new trails and set new standards for what’s expected of a video game. These are definitely things to keep an eye on. VR headsets, through basic augmented reality experiences and imaginative, high-end games, are going to change the landscape.
But sometimes, all of this forward-looking focus leads us to ignore one of the most interesting aspects of the VR trend: the medium’s potential to revive old, retro games. In an almost subtle way, we already live in a time of constant rehashing of retro themes and titles, thanks in large part to the spread of mobile gaming and downloadable arcade games on consoles. But we may just see VR take retro enthusiasm a degree further.
Just as we’ve seen some popular retro games brought back to life on mobile platforms, the same thing could occur with VR. In fact, this is something that was specifically discussed in Yeti’s discussion on retro gaming. There, specific titles like Punch-Out!!, Asteroids, and Donkey Kong were all mentioned as games that could be beautifully reimagined on virtual reality headsets. For instance, can you imagine physically leaping over rolling barrels as you work your way toward a boss fight with Donkey Kong? The idea here is that VR has the power to put us into our old favorite retro games.
Types Of Games
There’s also some broader potential for VR to bring back entire genres of retro games. The clearest example is probably casino gaming, which has never really gone anywhere but also tends to migrate. Once physically played primarily at in real life casinos and at home, poker became a popular computer form of digital entertainment, and is now played in active multiplayer environments through mobile apps. But the most intriguing aspect of the game’s evolution is undoubtedly the live gaming features that now exist among Betfair’s casino table games. At the platform live roulette, Sic Bo, and other games utilize human dealers to effectively create a semi-VR environment. From there, it’s a natural leap to VR, which could be the next big platform for casino gaming. And for that matter, other table games (like cards, board games) are also among the easier options for VR developers to consider.
Finally, there’s also something to be said for VR’s potential to bring back retro games that we know primarily as arcade options. When you think about the kinds of games you might have once played in an arcade (say, at an amusement park or in a cinema lobby), they often employed some element of virtual reality. There were shooting games that allowed players to hold plastic weaponry and aim with a sensor; there were boxing games that allowed players to use fake gloves to make real punching movements; and of course, there were plenty of racing games built into huge cabinets that made players feel like they were actually driving. VR can replicate all of these experiences, but could do so particularly effectively by reviving actual titles like Time Crisis 3, or Heavyweight Champ.
These are a few specific examples that highlight the idea that VR could bring about a wave of retro entertainment. And, given the way that gamers tend to embrace old classics, that can only be a good thing for the industry.