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Which is better for gaming: AR or VR?

Gamers can expect to see the video game industry to rapidly change over the next few years; the biggest pushing force behind this is the rush toward Virtual and Augmented reality. Integrating these two new platforms requires that manufacturers develop specialized devices that utilize at least one of them.

The first wave of VR and AR is slowly being introduced, and it won’t take long for manufacturers to push technology forwards again as they compete in sales. Currently, VR is the main focus with a variety of VR headsets already available, but AR has remained largely untouched.

With the recent success of Pokemon Go, it’s likely that more developers will consider creating games for Augmented Reality. Games for AR have existed for a while on mobile devices which makes this technology more accessible and established but, these games are relatively niche still.

Definitions

What even is Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, though? How are they different?

Virtual Reality: It creates a virtual world that players can interact with, the idea is that users should not be able to tell the difference between reality and the game.

Augmented Reality: This blends the virtual world with the real one so that players can interact with virtual reality through the real world while also being able to tell the difference between game and reality.

So one is created to fully immerse the player and the other allows the worlds to merge.

Platforms

Accessibility is critical to companies when designing products and these two technologies are no exceptions to this idea.

To play any VR games, users need to own a Virtual Reality headset and a platform to run the game through such as a PC or console. Not only does the player need to purchase one of the expensive headsets currently available, they also need to own the right platform and have a large enough space to use the device.

AR is very different as all smartphones already have the technology for this inbuilt into them and most of the world now use smartphones which make them easy to access. Smartphones are the perfect platform for AR, but this doesn’t mean that there won’t be anything else that runs these games.

If the latest rumors about the Nintendo Switch are correct, then the upcoming console will support AR and mobile games which makes it perfect for AR games while supporting more demanding titles. It’s not just the Nintendo Switch, Microsoft has been showing off some great games for the Hololens that look incredibly immersive.

More AR platforms are coming pretty soon, but there are already quite a few games that bring some of the real world into the game. Alien Isolation is one of the best examples for this as players could use their camera with the game so that the Alien responded to the noises picked up by the camera; the more noise the player makes, the more the Alien appears and reacts to the sound.

Games

Everyone knows that the games are the most important thing to think about when it comes to VR or AR. Both technologies are still relatively new and haven’t been fully explored just yet which means there is plenty of growing room for developers to explore in more detail.

Let’s face it, though; the games are going to be very different for a few years, but we’ll probably see the technology blending in the future. We can probably expect to see VR headsets implementing some AR technology or biosensors which push them towards true VR and full-dive technology.

There are already some great games available for both VR and AR with big developers starting to become more involved with these areas. Considering that AR games will be on smartphones, Hololens and the Nintendo Switch, it’ll be interesting to see exactly how this impacts the variation of games primarily as VR is currently limited to headsets.

Over the next five years, we should expect to see VR and AR to produce some fascinating games which could make their way into eSports.

Controls

Virtual Reality games have a range of controls where players can use a console controller, head movements and also dedicated VR controllers such as the HTC Vive controllers. Most VR games demand that the player purchase controllers to play them; each VR headset for the PC have unique controllers which may need to be bought separately. The PSVR for the PS4 is shipped with controllers also.

While VR controllers are expensive, Augmented Reality is currently much cheaper. Current AR games are only available for smartphones and are controlled through the phone; the Hololens has been confirmed to have a ‘clicker’ controller, and the Nintendo Switch would most likely use the controllers being shipped with the console.

It may still be early days for AR dedicated platforms, but it certainly looks like VR platforms will be much more expensive for quite some time still.

Motion Sickness

This is a pretty big problem with VR; each headset has a different impact on players and some headsets seem to be much more likely to cause this. Motion sickness and Virtual Reality go hand in hand right now but as technology improves we should expect this to become a thing of the past pretty quickly.

With Augmented Reality this is pretty different, there are currently no AR headsets available and it’s still unknown if the upcoming Hololens will suffer from this problem also. For the most part, AR won’t suffer from the motion sickness problem which makes this a much better option for players who suffer from vertigo or struggle with motion sickness.

Verdict

In the end, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are two very different things with unique ways to completely immerse players. The similar names can make it easy to confuse them, but their games stand out from all other platforms and genre of video games.

There is no ‘better’ option for gaming as they provide developers with a huge playground which is filled with potential; while VR is still currently very expensive, AR is a much cheaper option, and it also lacks the motion sickness which follows VR.

Augmented Reality is probably the better option right now for users with limited money or concerns about motion sickness, but there are no games for it yet that are truly immersive; Virtual Reality has a large range of very immersive games already and even more are on the way.

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