VR Archery: Why Personal VR is Failing

You silently lift up your weapon and aim. In your hands is the best compound bow available, and it glows blue as you quietly draw back an explosive tipped arrow to eliminate a nearby enemy.

In the recently released virtual reality game, Twisted Arrow, events like this are what make up a majority of gameplay. Players can teleport around a map, shooting arrows at waves of aggressive enemy combatants.

The gameplay is exciting, fun, but, ultimately, neither revolutionary nor fresh.

Archery and shooting games are beginning to oversaturate the increasingly stagnate VR industry. Games simply reuse the same gameplay concepts and don’t really offer anything new beyond a different graphical style.

This is because current VR controls are far less flexible than traditional controllers and keyboards, essentially preventing the game creation industry from being innovative. In addition, VR game development is expensive, and sales are never a guarantee in any market.

On the consumer side, prohibitive costs coupled with the lack of game variety has ground VR system sales to a halt. As the wave of “first adopters” received their VR systems, demand fell and a majority of gamers do not appear to be interested in owning a VR system.

As it turns out, archery games among other things are just a microcosm of everything wrong with VR. The games are undoubtedly fun, but don’t offer anything beyond gameplay meant to simulate real life action.

There are no sweeping storylines and unique gameplay concepts like those found in traditional PC and console games. Instead, there is the same gameplay every time: look around and shoot at bad guys who surround you.

Games always involve looking around and using your hands to kill bad guys. It is the natural result of only having a headset and hand-tracking controllers to play VR games with. Things like running, jumping, driving, flying and a variety of gameplay mechanics found in traditional games are impossible to properly implement with such controls.

VR systems are going the way of arcades rather than revolutionizing the personal gaming industry as everyone thought they would. Some people will own their own VR systems, but a majority will just visit the VR arcades (called holodecks) that are becoming increasingly common.

Business is booming for VR arcades as they provide space — something often lacking in personal homes — and cheaper prices than buying a VR system. This means that players can run and jump through levels, bringing VR gameplay to an entirely new level.

Ultimately, VR is a form of active entertainment that is best played running and ducking around a room, flailing your arms as you fan arrows at virtual enemies. Unless you have a mansion or a free empty room, personal VR can’t provide the hours of interesting gameplay that a VR arcade can.