Virtual Reality Could Make Businesses Out of Retro Games

Virtual and augmented reality are already proving to have numerous uses across global industries. In due time, these technologies will change how training is conducted in everything from manufacturing to the military.

They are already bringing about new methods and capabilities in architecture and engineering. Our profile of Inovus Medical explored some of the ways in which VR and particularly AR are impacting medical industries. And in time, the same technologies may even disrupt how we communicate with one another, or how we travel or navigate.

VR in particular has its recreational uses as well, however. And while we can’t necessarily look at it as one business (Creative Bloq lists numerous headsets that are still competitive in the field), we can say that VR in general is poised to spawn numerous new businesses in entertainment. Some of these will be new game development companies, or new gaming franchises. What’s also become interesting in the early years of VR though is the technology’s clear potential to make businesses out of existing games or game genres we might typically refer to as retro.

There are a few interesting examples….

One is board gaming, which has found renewed life through technology before. Over the years, we’ve seen games like Monopoly popping up as computer games, mobile applications, and even as material in the background of online slot machines. Words With Friends — a sort of unofficial adaptation of Scrabble — even became one of the true sensations of the early days of smartphone gaming. But it’s quite possible that VR will ultimately prove to be the most significant revitalization of board games. Simply put, they give friends and family the opportunity to play classic board games with and against one another over distance. It’s something we’re going to be seeing more of in the coming years, both through official series adaptations and imitations.

Bingo is another interesting example of a game that technology has sort of brought back from the past. Already, in fact, there are entire online gaming sites dedicated to online bingo and catering to their own social communities. These bingo games have their own chat rooms to make players feel like they’re getting more of a live experience, and Cheeky Bingo even maintains a glossary of popular terms used in these chat rooms. The notion of bingo having its own online lingo certainly speaks to how popular its modern, online form has become already. And yet, VR seems like an inevitable next medium. Games that feel live in online settings can be turned into fully immersive experiences in which players can interact and enjoy digital bingo as something of an event rather than just an online game.

One more specific example that’s also interesting to consider is Tetris. With the introduction of Tetris Effect, this game has already been reimagined for modern gamers, and ultimately brought into the realm of VR. The VR iteration, Tetris Effect: Connected, is basically billed as a way for players to play a visually engaging version of the classic arcade game in a “connected” fashion, no matter where they may be in the world. It is in some ways a perfect example of how VR technology doesn’t necessarily need new material to thrive. It can take older games and turn them into brand new experiences with franchise potential.

Last but not least, we’d throw poker into the conversation. VR poker has actually been slower to take off than we expected. The game is so simple, and has been so popular online for such a long time, that it seems like the perfect material for VR. So far early VR poker games have been only somewhat popular, but this still looks like a full-fledged gaming business waiting to happen. When a developer gets it just right, and brings about enough sensory immersion to make VR worthwhile, we’re likely to see a worldwide community of virtual poker competitors spring into action.

It will take time for all of this to develop. But with so much of the VR recreation conversation revolving around brand new gaming concepts, the retro opportunities shouldn’t be overlooked. There is major potential in older games that are just waiting for their shot in the new medium.

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