While developers are busy building elaborate and complex VR games, Ping Pong Pro reminds us that the key to virtual reality is to keep it simple.
There have been many booms in gaming over the past few decades. Some have stuck around for the long haul, while others have faded away pretty quickly. Virtual reality is an element of the industry that is stuck somewhere between the two worlds. It isn't a new technology, but advancements in the field have warranted developers to take another crack at making it stick in recent years.
There's no question that today's VR is lightyears ahead of anything that has come before it. The improved graphics we have today alone mean the worlds we are afforded the opportunity to step into are far more realistic. However, therein lies one of the problems for us. We don't need VR to become immersed in a game that would be just as good, if not better if we just played it normally.
For us, VR is a novelty and is effectively what the Nintendo Wii was 10 years ago - something you can bust out at parties and everyone can play. That's why a game like VR Ping Pong Pro is exactly what the genre needs. It's a simple sports game that allows you and your friends and family to pick up a headset and play without needing to know complicated controls or an in-depth backstory.
The game's design also lends itself to what many people imagine when they hear the term "virtual reality." While the backdrop is realistic, the elements you'll be using look like something from Tron. Plus, if you do want to play the game while the house is empty, you can do that too, as VR Ping Pong Pro has an online mode that allows you to play with others around the world as well as a whole bunch of mini-games.
Merge Games' offering to the VR world might not be the most strikingly beautiful or incredibly complex VR game in the world, but that's the point. As developers continue to focus on the hardcore gamer, the casual and pick-up-and-play audiences who were catered to a decade ago have been forgotten. Those people need more games like this, and if more offerings like this one are made, perhaps the VR boom will stick around for good this time.