The media and entertainment world is shifting at an incredible speed. Advancements in technology is leading to the creation of new platforms that revolutionise viewing opportunities. These platforms are offering entertainment-seeking audiences new and uniquely engaging experiences. Now, with more companies investing in virtual reality (VR) and more VR headsets hitting the retail stores, this immersive 3D technology has proved that it is more than just a fad. It has quickly become an evolving trend that is changing the entertainment world as we know it.

Virtual reality adds a “wow” factor to entertainment that makes just about everyone keen to experience it, regardless of age, gender or whether a person happens to be a fan of computer games or not. VR brings a whole new level of interaction to activities and amusements. It not only enables those who engage in a VR activity to really immerse themselves in what they are seeing and hearing, but also allows them to play a more active role in the virtual environment.

Here are some examples of how virtual reality is already changing the way we experience certain forms of entertainment.

VR Gaming

Presently, when it comes to VR and entertainment, virtual reality has most notably made its mark in the gaming industry. VR games have been steadily released for consoles like Playstation and on Steam for PC gaming. As improvements are made in the technology, gaming experiences are gradually getting longer, more in-depth and better. The result is more players are eager to take part in the experience to play as their favourite superheroes, such as Batman in Batman: Arkham VR or as a survivor in a Zombie apocalypse in Arizona Sunshine. This growing interest is having an effect on the industry as more game developers are seeking to jump on board the VR band wagon and appeal to the VR gamer.

That being said, it’s not just young gamers that game developers are seeking to attract. In fact, a VR version of Catan is in the works. Based on the classic and iconic 1995 board game Settlers of Catan, the VR version of the game is being developed by game studio Experiment7 with help from the game’s original creators. Although it will simply be called Catan VR it will supposedly be true to the classic, but with the perk of being optimised for virtual reality with a “fresh, fully-immersive format”. The creator of the original game, Klaus Teuber, said in a statement: “The game I made in our living room with my family 25 years ago in virtual reality? It’s incredible.”

The VR version of the game, which is based on the concept of creating and expanding settlements, will reportedly be both a single player and online multiplayer game, available on Oculus Rift and Gear VR to start. It is a prime example of how VR is changing entertainment; by taking a classic popular game and evolving and expanding upon the experience with the latest technology.

VR is even impacting iGaming and changing the way in which online gamblers are experiencing their favorite slots, which has been made apparent by the popularity of SlotsMillion VR Casino.  In an interview with VegasMaster, the CEO and cofounder of SlotMillion Casino, Alexandre Tomic, explained that while for the moment VR Gaming is more of an enhancement to current technologies, as the technology progresses, “it is expected that VR will surpass the gaming experiences of the past and present with its immersive environment.” Presently, SlotsMillion VR Casino can be experienced through Oculous Rift and HTC Vive and enables players to explore a 3D lobby where they can play their favourite games, take a seat at the bar, interact with other players and more.

VR Entertainment Beyond Gaming

Of course, virtual reality isn’t just about gaming. In fact, in can be its own form of entertainment. According to Forbes’ recent article, “Forget Video Games, Virtual Reality Can Be Its Own Entertainment”, the most interesting virtual reality applications are experienced beyond video gaming studios and “can be experienced through entertainment industry pioneers and daring startups willing to take on a challenge.”

More specifically, the article mentions a virtual reality app from Google called Blocks. This app offers users six simple tools they can utilise to create various virtual reality experiences. Best of all, they don’t require any real knowledge of graphic modelling. Via the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headsets, users of this VR app can create 3D art and show it off to the world through an endless Internet gallery. Blocks is a great example of a virtual reality application that really captures the essence of virtual reality because it uses the technology to create and distribute creative projects.

What’s more, VR will also enhance future movie experiences. Even now the film industry is using the tech in several ways to create interactive storytelling to deliver new types of immersive experiences. Additionally, virtual reality can  be used to enhance other forms of entertainment including special exhibits at museums, discovery centres, theme park attractions, and so on. The Void’s Ghostbusters-themed VR attraction in New York is a great example of this.

Future Potential For VR Entertainment

Virtual reality has a lot of future potential, according to The Medium, which recently posted the responses of an Unbound London conference discussion panel involving three entertainment professionals: Asaf Peled from Minute Media, Aksel van der Wal from Turner International and Adam Howard from Chirp. During the discussion, Asaf said that VR is an important part of content consumption. He believes that, in the future, mobile combined with VR is going to deliver the immersive experience consumers will want when they’re out in their self-driving cars.

Likewise, Aksel commented that the future potential for virtual reality is positive. He noted that virtual reality experiences have evolved and are now getting to the stage where experiences are finally becoming immersive and good enough that users will actually want to engage with them.

Not Everyone Is On Board The VR Train

While most people agree that virtual reality is definitely the future of entertainment, some naysayers, like Todd Spangler, don’t believe that there is much of a future for this technology, due to the lack of belief that it could ever become mainstream.

In fact, Todd Spangler from Variety has many doubts regarding VR’s future success for broad adoption. For starters, he isn’t confident that Millenial and Gen Z consumers will be big fans of VR due to their short attention spans, as VR entertainment demands the user’s full and undivided attention. What’s more, he argues that the vast majority of people might find virtual reality experiences fun and enjoyable, but it won’t be a must-have product that the average person is going to want or need in their home.

Plus, let’s be honest, at the moment, the equipment that you require to engage in the best VR experiences isn’t exactly cheap. Presently, the Oculus Rift carries a $500 price tag on average, the PS4 VR system costs $400 (not including the console or games) and the HTC Vive is now $600, only $200 lower than its initial cost of $800.

Although there’s a very good chance that virtual reality will eventually become affordable enough to be mainstream, the reality is that becoming mainstream is an absolute must in order for this tech to change the world of entertainment. It can’t only be an experience reserved for the super-rich and the technology can’t be mediocre. If VR isn’t practically accessible to the masses and isn’t immersive enough that most people will want to engage with it, virtual reality will have a much smaller niche market and less of an impact on the entertainment industry as a whole