So you’ve just bought your first VR headset and want to get right deep into the action with something that’s very real; racing. There are a lot of people that love the feeling of driving in a car, and the second best way to get the same experience of racing is through games… But, if that’s the case, then why are there not more VR racing games available?
I think that the biggest factor of this issue is that the VR technology is still very young; the first VR headset that you could buy was the Oculus Rift released in March 2016, closely followed by Valve’s offering of the HTC Vive in June of the same year. We’ve also had the addition of PSVR which runs exclusively on PS4 – That’s potential issue one – the technology being too new – scratched off our list… There is plenty of hardware out there to develop games for; either on the PC or console. The second issue, however, is that this hardware has a low user base, and – despite marketing pushes – is still very, very niche.
One of the things that can push a developer to choose what platform they’re going to develop for is the number of people out there owning the hardware in question – If there’s no one to sell to, then why use the money to develop a game for a headset that doesn’t have a big enough user base to turn a profit? Because of how complex it is to create a game world, let alone one that you can walk through in VR, developers are turned off by the financial and time-based challenges, and that means to make something really good you need to pump lots of wonga into development and testing. This can take a long time and the longer you take, the more it could cost.
Another factor might just be that there isn’t enough interest in cars within the gaming community. I blame it on Battle Royales grabbing everyone’s attention and money… When I was younger, there were a whole range of racing games coming off of the back of the car movie and racing scenes of early 2000. For those who didn’t have the money or the car to mod, these games were the best options. Nowadays, people are growing up around games that are predominantly violent, and don’t consider the racing side as much. Can we also take a moment’s silence for the Driving TV show trio, May, Hammond and Clarkson; (The old and good) Top Gear has run its course and The Grand Tour has announced that this season will be the last studio-based show they will present. Thank you for the interest of cars you placed into so many people.
I think there’s one final reason why there are not more VR racing games available. The answer is Project Cars – Only the best racing simulator ever released has a VR mode with tiered racing, from go-karting to Touring Cars, GT3 all the way through to the prestigious LMP1. Not only that, but there’s a second one as well which performs and looks even better with an even wider range of tiers to play through, including Oval Racing and Rally Cross… So the world’s greatest simulation racing game has covered multiple different disciplines so well that other people will struggle to create something that comes as close to being as good. That being said, I’d love to see more arcade racing games in VR. Maybe something like a destruction derby with explosions and shit; wrecking cars while listening to some heavy metal. That sounds like fun to me.
VR is one of those things that is very cool right now, but it’s also very expensive and niche. For the average consumer like you and I, there’s no way that I can afford £2700 on a computer that’s powerful enough to be able to run a VR headset and the cost of the headset as well. Until the technology moves on enough to bring the cost down, or the hardware doesn’t need a computer as powerful to run it, then the developers can keep on waiting for us to buy those beautiful toys.