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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Everything you need to know about virtual reality.


Virtual Reality is BACK! It only took a few decades.  The main driver for the technology is small high resolution screens.  We can thank cell phones for that.  The VR space is unfortunately fragmented with everyone working toward their own view of VR, which is divided into two major spheres: interactive VR and "spectative VR"(I am starting this as a word for VR).  



Oculus Rift
Via Oculus.com
Oculus Rift is the one that started all the hype on KickStarter.  Oculus Rift was bought by Facebook and recently acquired backing from Unreal.  Native game integration makes game setup smooth.  Also, Unreal recently made an interesting pivot to virtual space rendering offering $5 million in grants toward video game and virtual presence within the Unreal 4 engine.  Unreal is also offering its Unreal 4 engine free for development of future games. Even with Unreal support OR is primarily spectative VR in nature.
Gear VR is an Oculus backed mobile platform with support from Samsung.  Gear VR came about after Facebook got involved with Oculus Rift. Facebook previously gave little support to Android Facebook apps.  Facebooks focus has changed due to the sheer numbers of Android devices, and presumably this peripheral.  Gear VR offers “3D Spatial Sound” all through a Galaxy S4.
*Prediction* Expect to see this go somewhere in the social media space.  



Project Morpheus
Via playstation.com

Sony has created a VR system called Project Morpheus that is directly connected to the PS4 system.  There isn't much talk about standalone functionality and that could limit its potential.  Morpheus is in the early development stages with functioning prototypes.  We will see about future game support and backwards compatibility.  Morpheus will have integration with the Move controller system that will allow a more interactive VR experience within the PS4 ecosystem.  


OSVR
Razer has been making advanced peripherals for the PC for a while now.  Razer's offering into the VR space, OSVR, is open source which will rely largely on the community to development. This is great but without software support this is for a niche group of tinkerers who dont mind figuring out why things dont work. Razer does have other hardware to offer an interactive VR experience.



SteamVR

Via Steam
They finally released SteamOS and Steam Boxes are official now.  Read more about why Steam is the way to go.  
In a surprise move Steam launched a joint venture with HTC to create its own VR system.  You might think this is redundant to the Oculus Rift , but the vision of SteamVR is movement within a room.  Imagine an empty room and actually being able to walk around and play a game similar to "Portal".  SteamVR has trackable left and right controllers.  This will add an additional layer of interactive VR and game development support that none of the others have to offer.

Oculus will probably be the most mainstream offering out there for specatative VR, and Steam has the potential to be the pinnacle of interactive VR assuming its Steam Boxes do well. Right now this is how the VR landscape looks. It is still an evolving genre.


Did we miss anything?


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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Nintendo's lost power



Nintendo has been trying to reestablish itself as something aside from a niche gaming market.  It has survived largely on nostalgia.  But from this generation on Nintendo's legacy is fading.  We have already reported and predicted this state and made the only logical solution. A step away from hardware and a focus on game development.

Nintendo is way behind the curve on hardware, and it has yet to announce or attempt to update its system that was behind at the start.  But now it is selling out its most popular franchise to have a live action series on Netflix.(S)  


Segas(SGAMY) last 5 years have been trending in a more positive direction than Nintendos(NTDOY).  Sega has been kept afloat by its merger with a casino game machine business.  And Sega has recently made an announcement that they will not develop for consoles anymore.(S)  

Considering entire companies survive on mobile alone, this could be a positive move.  The problem is they are holding on to franchises that are killing them.  Comment if you would like to read more about Sega. But this is a Nintendo article.


Nintendo is quickly losing its market share to tablet and cellphone games that are most of the time free, rely on small in app purchases and are very convenient for parents to acquire for Nintendo's target market.  But Nintendo is dead set on remaining a first-party developer.  


Nintendo is keeping its stock bloated by constantly selling more and more DS variants and combining these into a family and inflating their numbers.  But there are drawbacks to having a console.  Sales, according to the President of Nintendo, have been directly impacted by US port strikes.(S)
Also, much press was put into the glasses free 3D portion of the 3DS, but it also messed with children's vision.  The possible implications gave way to a 2DS which was cheaper and sold well adding to overall sales.  The latest sales figure we could find showed all DS sales totaling about 45 million units with ~2% increase from the previous year, most likely from the 2DS.  On the other hand, Android alone shows a history of doubling tablet sales that were at 37 million in 2012, and phones are activated on an average of 1.5 Million a day.  And Nintendo doesn't have to worry about shipping cartridges or consoles.  Meanwhile, you can't buy a legitimate copy of a Nintendo game on the billion or so Android devices out there.   


Do you think Nintendo survives? 

**Note article written prior to Nintendo's 3rd party announcement. 


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