How Social Games Are Seeking To Bring Virtual Reality Into The Mainstream

Virtual reality (VR) is, by no means, a new concept. Back in the 1950s, there were efforts to provide the public with an all-encompassing sensorial experience through a screen. However, from the 2010s onwards, the world saw widespread interest in VR experiences and an increase in consumer headsets by tech giants such as Google, Apple, Microsoft and Samsung. Several of these companies have focused their efforts on creating social VR experiences.

What is social VR?

As the name suggests, social VR allows users to join an immersive, computer-generated environment where they can meet and interact with one another. Not only can users create their own look-alike avatars in these virtual settings, but they can also engage in a myriad of entertaining activities, such as playing games, watching movies, or even arranging work meetings.

Those who wish to engage in similar experiences need to download a specific VR application and sign in. While having a VR headset is an advantage, not all social VR apps require it as they can be accessed through a PC. Once there, users can start by creating their own avatars, which can be anything from a character who resembles them, an animal, or a video game character.

Popular social VR games

In late December 2021, Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook Inc) released its free multiplayer VR platform Horizon Worlds. In the game, which works on Oculus Rift S and Meta Quest 2 headsets, players can create a customizable avatar to represent themselves. In addition, they can create their own space and a new world and travel to spaces created by other players. While the game surpassed 300.000 users in 2022, it has been criticised due to abundant bugs and quality issues.

Available in Quest, Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro, Half + Half is yet another multiplayer game designed to foster fun and social connection. Users can choose their own avatars, which are anthropomorphic figures with ultra-long torsos and small, simple faces. The game offers several mini-games like hide and seek, swimming in the ocean and gliding through clouds.

There’s also a social VR experience for those who wish to have fun and try their luck. In recent years, those wishing to learn how to win at pokies, roulette and back jack have found useful virtual resources in addition to casino platforms. Now, with social VR games, these players can put their strategies into practice in virtual spaces that resemble brick-and-mortar casinos. In SlotMillion, for example, players can access a 3D casino environment where they can freely walk around the futuristic space and play one of their forty pokies on a digital screen.

The future of social VR

The global virtual reality market is booming, with a reported market size of 7.92 billion USD back in 2021 and a compound annual growth rate of 31.4%. Accordingly, the market is predicted to reach 53.44 billion USD by 2028. In coming years, the greater demand for VR solutions and social experiences will likely result in more advanced hardware, innovative software and a greater variety of gaming content.

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