If one thing has become clear in technology in 2016, it’s that virtual reality isn’t going anywhere. This isn’t like 3D home video, which was promised as a revolution in entertainment and more or less fizzled out when the public displayed limited interest. VR is a phenomenon, and in the coming years we’re only going to see better devices and more innovative games and experiences headed our way.
For the time being, however, high-end VR is still a little bit pricey for the average gamer. The HTC Vive, which seems to be coming out on top of most conversations about the best VR headsets available, has a $799 price tag. That’s quite a lot to pay for something that’s still in its first phase. This is why a lot of consumers are, for now, opting for cheaper and simpler options like Google Cardboard or even Samsung Gear VR. Google Cardboard is particularly ideal for those who simply want to check out VR to see what all the fuss is about without making a huge investment. It costs $15 to $25, and once you have it you can simply download compatible apps on your smartphone and start enjoying.
Naturally, there are already some pretty great experiences available for this simpler form of VR. Wareable did a feature on the best Google Cardboard apps and demos and pointed to everything from 360-degree YouTube videos to War Of Words, which simulates a war scene while reading you a creepy poem. There’s a lot to choose from, though it’s also worth noting that most of the available experiences are more about viewing than playing. This may be in part because Google Cardboard doesn’t come with a sophisticated controller system. However, Bluetooth controllers do work with these devices, so games can certainly be figured out.
Keeping that in mind, it would seem that some of these popular Android games would be perfect for simple but enjoyable VR gaming.
Words With Friends
It may not sound like the most thrilling VR experience, but Words With Friends is one of the more popular mobile games we’ve ever seen, and at its core it’s all about interaction. Interestingly, a 2014 article on Complex revealed that the developers behind Words With Friends were actually behind the creation of Lucky’s Tale, which is now one of the main VR games for Oculus Rift. So perhaps they have it in them to adapt Words With Friends as an augmented reality experience that would allow gamers to play games as if they’re actually working with scrabble boards on their living room tables, etc.—only with friends who might be hundreds of miles away!
Betfair’s online casino is known for being home to lots of slot machines and card games, but in truth, the roulette and table gaming options seem just about perfect for augmented reality. These games are accessible on the site’s mobile app, and they involve interacting with roulette wheels and craps and card tables on small screens. As with Words With Friends, it’s easy to imagine the same games played out as if those wheels and tables are actually situated in front of you. For those who enjoy this genre of gaming, watching a ball spin around a roulette wheel in 3D would be a wonderful thrill.
Lost In Harmony
Going with something a little newer and perhaps more ambitious, Lost In Harmony would be a terrific VR experience. If you’re unfamiliar with this game, it’s the first released title from a developer (Digix Art) that professes to produce “meaningful” games. And while meaningful is probably subjective, this is certainly a unique and impactful game. It combines song and level creation with endless-runner gameplay to present a strange, captivating animated adventure. Any endless runner (think Temple Run) could be a blast in VR, and throwing in the importance this game places on music would only make it more immersive.
Sure, there are tons of pinball games you can find on mobile devices, and most any of them would be interesting if adapted to VR. But an article on the best Android games of 2016 pointed to this one as the best of the bunch because it functions as “a fully playable digital museum,” resurrecting classic machines like Tales Of The Arabian Nights and The Addams Family. You wouldn’t need a device much more sophisticated than Google Cardboard to expand this game to VR so that these machines appeared in front of you, and you could truly simulate the pinball experience.
This one could be a little more challenging, and it’s possible that some of the movements would actually cause the game to approach the motion sickness problems associated with playing on more advanced VR headsets. Nevertheless, it would be a blast to try. Power Hover is basically its own style of endless runner in which you control a small figure on a hover board zipping through beautiful, varied landscapes. The animation is attractively minimalistic, and the controls are fairly simple. Taking on this game from a first-person perspective would be an incredible experience.
These are only five of many suggestions that would make perfect sense. For now, VR developers appear to be mostly focused on generating entirely new experiences. But should they ever start adapting apps to make things easy on themselves, games like these with easy concepts and engaging gameplay would be terrific.