Right off the bat, let me mention that I'm not a game developer, nor am I a games critic by any stretch. I'm a simple gamer and a VR Kool-Aid drinker of first generation.
Consumer-ready virtual reality has now been with us for over a year. This October will mark the first anniversary of the launch of the Playstation VR, the last of the three major virtual reality systems on the market. Google's Daydream and Gear VR have some fun and interesting experiences, but let's be honest, they are a mere gateway drug to the more hardcore Vive-Rift-PSVR platform trinity.
In this year-and-a-half period, the VR software offering has grown to over 200 games or experiences on the Playstation Store and over a staggering 1700 on Steam. I am completely aware that a decent percentage of those are not up to par in terms of quality, but that has next to no impact on today's subject.
Back in March 2016, when the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift were first introduced, teasing and promoting VR game launches with a classic 2D trailer on YouTube made all the sense in the world. Absolutely no one had any equipment to see what the game could feel like inside the headset, so 2D was the default fallback solution. The problem is that virtual reality content doesn't demo well at all in 2D. Every game studio and VR hardware manufacturer knows this.
So my question today is: Why, after 18 months on the market, can't gamers and VR users get to experience a game trailer from inside the headset? If VR is still slugging towards mass adoption, in great part because 2D demos leave viewers confused, or at least hungry for more, it would seem to me that letting potential buyers get a better taste or the product would be considered a priority. I can't begin to fathom how big of a job it is, development wise, to add an option to view a trailer in VR, but it seems to me like it's probably not an impossible task. Sony, Oculus and Steam definitely have the resources to implement that. After all, WebVR has been around for a little while now. Let's be clear, I'm not talking about downloading a playable demo, but simply to experience the 2D demo in a 360 video through the headset.
I feel that such a feature would probably help sell many more copies of games. I, for one, have watched pretty much every single VR game trailer to come out in the last two years and on many occasions, I have only been pleasantly surprised by a game once I had stepped inside of it. Superhypercube and Fantastic Contraption instantly come to mind. Both of them looked okay in 2D, but experiencing them in VR was a revelation.
More than 2.5 million high-end headsets are now in circulation worldwide, and this count is only going to keep growing. Now multiply that number by the number of times a year that a gamer usually makes a purchase. It's becoming more and more relevant to offer such an option. Of course, I'm not advocating it to replace the traditional YouTube trailer. A 2D version is still indispensable to bait non-VR gamers (which are still the vast majority) and to tease headset owners, but they could definitely live side-by-side.
In late 2017, promoting a VR game with only a 2D video makes as much sense as promoting GTA V with a black and white silent movie. Ok, bad example, that would probably look pretty badass, but you get my drift.