What Genres Will Work For Virtual Reality Gaming?

Virtual reality (or VR) gaming is coming in 2016, and no one can stop it. There are already a number of headset consoles ready to hit the market – some built by the likes of Microsoft and Sony, who already dictate the home gaming market, and others designed by tech companies looking to break into the game. To be clear, these companies still appear to be working out some of the kinks in the effort to provide smooth and appealing gaming experiences. But the first generation of in-home VR gaming is just around the corner, which begs the question: what games will we be playing on these new systems?


This exploration of some of the titles that have already been revealed and demonstrated seeks to answer that question to some extent. And for the most part, three themes stand out from the list: shooting, racing, and exploration. VR gaming will be all about total immersion, and it appears that in the early going these are the types of games through which developers feel they can best explore that idea. But are they really the best choices for the mass gaming market? Let’s take a look not just at the types of games mentioned in the list, but at some popular genres in general.

Shooting Games

Shooters arguably comprise the most popular genre in modern gaming, and yet it’s hard to imagine them being wholly satisfying in VR. This analysis of Sony’s London Heist, a game meant for the company’s Project Morpheus VR headset, appears to argue that a shooter can actually be satisfying in this format. But it also mentions that “the lack of physical feedback is a little weird,” and this is where I think there will be a problem for shooters. Sure, the terror of confronting enemies as if they’re actually right in front of you should be fun. But shooters require a lot of additional hands-on action and movement that ultimately you’ll still be managing with controllers. I could be proven wrong in the years ahead, but it feels as if shooters have a ceiling of being good, not great in VR.

Racing Games

Racing games may make the most sense for VR. This is because even when you’re in an actual car in real life you’re really not moving around a whole lot. You’re turning your head, looking, and reacting with your hands. And you can do all of that in VR. There shouldn’t be any of the bizarre physical disconnect that appears inevitable in the shooter genre. And for what it’s worth, Sony’s Project Cars is already generating buzz as one of the most exciting titles that will be among the early VR releases.

Adventure Games

This is a pretty big genre and to be fair, it bleeds over into other genres as well. For example, you’d have a hard time defining the Far Cry series as one or the other. But generally speaking, think of games like Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed, and other explorative open-world games as those that define this genre. Among these games, I have some of the same concerns that exist for shooters. There is just a lot of physicality that can’t possibly be replicated in an in-home VR experience. But I also think the adventure genre has an advantage in that so much of its appeal comes down to visual scope and quality. Diving into a modern open world gaming environment in VR ought to look so spectacular that everything else is just an afterthought.

Casino Games

Casino games may not have a particularly strong foothold in the console market, but it has been suggested that the coming VR wave could bring about enthusiasm for full VR casinos. And frankly, it’s easy to understand the appeal given the progression of the online casino market in the past decade or two. We’ve already advanced from crude poker simulations to environments that visually simulate real poker rooms and whole communities of players. You can even play various casino games here in which you interact with live dealers through your computer screen. You could actually make the argument that the live dealer concept surpasses the “realness” of VR, but either way this is a genre that could surprise some people once VR takes off.

Mystery Games

This, in my opinion, will be in-home VR’s wheelhouse. Mystery and horror can walk hand-in-hand, and like adventure games, they thrive largely through the richness of their environments. Movement is required and there will likely be some awkwardness to things like picking up objects or opening doors, etc. But these types of games are generally a little slower, which means the visuals should take even greater priority over the actions and movements. Basically, virtual reality holds enormous potential to host genuinely terrifying mystery and horror experiences

Truthfully it’s a little bit early to know how exactly games in any of these genres will work on VR consoles. But judging by early demos and the tendencies of these genres in ordinary gaming, many of the ideas posed above should prove to be pretty accurate.

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