NEW PLAYSTATION VR BUNDLE HAS EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO GET STARTED, by Gabe Gurwin

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

PlayStation VR may be the least expensive way to enter the world of virtual reality, but it still isn’t cheap. Previously, the headset sold for $400 in addition to the mandatory PlayStation Camera for an additional $60, but that changes this week with the newest PlayStation VR bundle.

Starting on September 1, the PlayStation VR’s standard bundle will come with a PlayStation Camera for $400, effectively giving customers a $60 discount. Sony says that this will be the “core” PlayStation VR bundle moving forward, so if you already own the camera but haven’t picked up the headset yet, you might want to act quickly.

In addition to the $400 option, those looking to also pick up a game with PlayStation VR can check out the $450 PlayStation VR Worlds bundle — previously called the “launch bundle” at most retailers. The package contains everything from the standard bundle and adds two PlayStation Move controllers and the PlayStation VR Worlds game. Coming with several different mini-games, including The London Heist, Danger Ball, and the enthralling Ocean Descent, it’s a great way to get introduced to VR technology, though not all of the games are created equal. VR Luge is a pretty mediocre racing game, and Scavengers Odyssey is all but guaranteed to make you queasy.

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Dear Reality Release New Workflow For Spacial Audio, by Rebecca Hills-Duty

Spacial Connect workflow allows for 3D audio to be controlled from within a VR environment.

The Spacial Connect workflow allows users to export data as object-based audio directly to the Unity engine for both Vr or 360-degree video production. Dear Reality are accepting applications for users to join the Beta testing. Further information can be found on the Dear Reality website.

Spacial Connect works with almost any Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) connected to a HTC Vive or Oculus Rift to allow any sound designer, audio engineer or musician to create 3D audio content for VR.

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Facebook’s Oculus woos game makers as virtual reality faces hurdles, by Queenie Wong

This file photo taken on June 14, 2017 shows Gaming fans wearing VR goggles to play “Echo Arena” from Oculus on day two of E3 2017, the three day Electronic Entertainment Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California. Facebook-owned Oculus has been beefing beefing up the content it offers to attract more consumers. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook-owned Oculus wants game makers to buy into the future of virtual reality, but for some developers, creating content for a smaller audience is also a gamble.

Despite all the hype surrounding the technology, virtual reality headsets aren’t flying off the shelves as quickly as some analysts expected.

Oculus has been putting its money where its mouth is by funding developers ready to get into the game.

“Developers get so incredibly geeked out by technology that selling them on VR is the easiest part of my job. That leaves only the business,” said Oculus’ Vice President of Content Jason Rubin in an interview.

When the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset was released in March 2016, only 30 VR titles were available. Now more than 500 titles have been released.

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Iconic German Film Das Boot To Get VR Videogame, by Peter Graham

For those unaware, back in 1981 an anti-war story revolving around the crew of a German U-boat during World War II, Das Boot, was released, becoming one of the most successful German films ever. Recently, Sky, Sonar Entertainment, and Bavaria Fernsehproduktion, have revealed a collaboration to recreate the film as a TV series which is scheduled for release in late 2018. Alongside this, remote control productions (RCP) has been employed to create a virtual reality (VR) title to compliment the show.

Working with Bavaria Fernsehproduktion, RCP aims to capture the essence of the popular movie and the upcoming TV series, with a special focus on the anti-war message. Players will be able to submerge themselves into the story of a German U-boat crew, experiencing the oppressive narrowness of submarine life and the horrors of war.

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Over $2.1 Million Raised For New Virtual Reality And Esports Cryptocurrency, By Darren Heitner

Bitcoin and Ethereum are becoming commonly used words as Initial Coin Offerings are sprouting up. (Photo: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Cryptocurrencies are all the rage in 2017. Names like Bitcoin and Ethereum have become a part of common dialogue as people seem to be interested in learning more about cryptocurrency markets and exploiting them in any way possible for financial gain. The markets are rather volatile, with the more popular Bitcoin falling in price by roughly 20% in a mere seven day span, but that has not dissuaded anyone from wanting to at least consider being part of the cryptocurrency action.

An industry that may be perfectly positioned for the exchange of such cryptocurrencies is gaming, where individuals are constantly competing to best the competition, often with some form of prize to be awarded for excelling. With the rise of esports, cryptocurrencies could be a clear match, and there are companies looking into the potential of same.

Take for instance NEVERDIE, a company that has been in the virtual reality space for many years that is now trying to create a cryptocurrency coin/token that can be used for transactions in the virtual reality world as well as for esports prizes. NEVERDIE is currently running what is referred to as an ICO — Initial Coin Offering — which is to raise funds, without regulation, for a cryptocurrency venture. NEVERDIE’s ICO ends August 1 with coins available on the Ethereum Blockchain. Thus far, over $2.1 million has been raised, including $50,000 from a single investor.

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The 5 Best Virtual Reality Games, by Nicholas Bashore

As of 2017, virtual reality is humming along in a relatively positive direction thanks to the consistent VR experiences and video games being released across the board for everyone who has access to a headset. Many of these titles aren’t necessarily a “complete” video game experience compared to the AAA titles you’ll find on consoles and PC, however, so there’s still room for improvement going forward. Regardless of the platform or title you end up experiencing virtual reality on, there’s no questioning how close the technology gets you to the action of a video game, often placing you directly in the cockpit of an X-wing or right in the middle of an intense firefight with your friends. As you might expect, the overall experience can vary depending on the image quality of the VR game in question or the headset you’re currently wearing to experience it.

Whether you’re using an Oculus Rift, an HTC Vive, Sony’s more affordable (but hard to find) PlayStation VR which works with the PlayStation 4, or another option, there are plenty of video games out there worth your attention. Here’s a selection of our favorites, which we will continue to update as more titles are released.

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“Eagle Flight” is a thrilling VR game that lets you feel what is’s like to fly, By Adam Rosenberg

IMAGE: UBISOFT
IMAGE: UBISOFT

Eagle Flight is the first virtual reality game to leave me breathless.

Ubisoft’s debut VR game puts you behind the eyes of a soaring eagle in a tattered post-apocalyptic Paris. Nature has reclaimed the city, giving you the freedom to explore, defend your territory from other winged threats and fly through carefully arranged sets of hoops.

There are also feathers and fish to collect, because that’s how Ubisoft open world games roll.

If the fiction doesn’t quite make sense, that’s OK. The only thing that really matters is the flying. Eagle Flight nails the sensation of careening through the sky in a way that no other VR experience has yet managed.

It starts with your perspective, which positions your eyes between a feathered brow at the top of your view and an elongated beak at the bottom.

These are more than visual flourishes, which are a constant unconscious reminder of your eagle-ness. They anchor you to your virtual body, using nothing more high-tech than psychology to ward off motion sickness.

It’s astonishingly effective.

 

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What a venture capitalist sees in the virtual and augmented reality market, By Sunny Dhillon

Jonny Ahdout / Within
Jonny Ahdout / Within

Before my career as an investor, I worked at Warner Bros. and at a venture-backed startup that spun off from New Line Cinema. And as an early-stage VC with Signia Venture Partners, I’ve been actively hunting for virtual-reality opportunities in the media and entertainment industry — I couldn’t be more bullish on VR and AR as a fanboy, consumer and investor.

Most venture-backed startups around entertainment VR/AR have fallen into four buckets: Cinematic VR, sports/live events, content-creation tools/infrastructure and gaming.

Moviemakers are exploring opportunities for director-uncontrolled viewer perspective in VR movies. Visual effects engineers improve motion-capture techniques for inserting real-life human holograms into virtual worlds. Movie studios look to additive VR/AR “bonus content” to help market their tentpole $100 million theatrical releases. Game developers look to create ethereal escapes and immersive horror and shooter games. And concert and sporting event producers look to engage (and monetize) fans on a new and exciting event viewing medium.

As an investor, I’m looking at all of these closely, alongside a few enterprise applications of VR/AR (particularly within training and education), but for the purposes of this article, let’s stick to the entertainment biz.

Cinematic VR

Cinematic VR refers to storytelling and short films — content whose success is dependent on creativity more than on unique, defensible technology. We have seen a host of venture-backed startups emerge in this category: Baobab, Penrose, Within (formerly VRSE), Felix & Paul and, at one time, even Oculus’s internal Story Studio. For the most part, these companies have either been started by recently minted Harvard Business School MBAs or by folks with significant past creative/technical show business experience. Investor-wise, strategics such as Comcast Ventures have been particularly active in cinematic VR; however, it was Andreessen Horowitz that wrote the biggest check to date for an early-stage cinematic VR startup (for Within).

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PSVR devs discuss the challenges of designing for the platform, By Joel Couture

Virtual reality has finally arrived on Sony’s console, with the HMD formerly known as Project Morpheus hitting store shelves today. PSVR is releasing with no shortage of virtual reality experiences to try out, including games like Thumper, Battlezone, Wayward Sky, Allumette, Superhypercube, Harmonix’s Music VR, and many more.

Gamasutra reached out to the developers creating games for it (or porting games to it) to find out what it was like to develop for the PSVR. There were many interesting insights about the console VR experience, but the consensus reaction was that it was similar to other VR platforms in terms of development. So we opened it up and asked some more general questions about the challenges of VR design the dealt with on their PSVR launch titles.

Every aspect of creating games and digital spaces would need to be re-examined in the creation of PSVR games, from the way impacts are conveyed to the menus to the movements, and each developer had a little something to say about how daunting, and yet exciting, developing around these new concerns could be.

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Facebook’s Oculus Connect 3 And The Future Of Virtual Reality, By Anshel Sag

As you may know, Facebook FB +0.14% bought Oculus back in 2014 for a cool $2 billion. This deal kick started a VR revolution and has accelerated the worlds of AR and VR. However, Oculus has had major challenges since being acquired and has struggled to deliver products on time; Oculus delivered its Oculus Rift headset later than expected due to some logistics and production issues. However, the company is looking to reboot its VR platform with the launch of their delayed Oculus Touch controllers which were originally supposed to launch alongside the Rift VR headset.

Oculus Connect is the company’s own developer conference and show designed to showcase the latest from the company and connect the company to its developers. At Oculus Connect the company primarily focused on content for Oculus Touch and rebooting the Rift brand with new Touch games. The company also announced the ability to enable room-scale VR which is what their competitor already has in the HTC HTCCY +% Vive. The fundamental problem with Oculus’ solution is that it costs as much as HTC’s but doesn’t deliver room-scale unless you buy an additional third camera for $79 bringing the cost of a full Oculus Rift + Touch solution to almost $900.

Competitively, Touch is a must for Oculus and Facebook to increase immersion inside VR. Xbox controllers are a poor tool for VR and don’t engage the user like moving your hands around does. This helps Oculus finally reach somewhat feature parity with HTC…6 months later and for more money, which will not be lost on consumers. The good thing for Oculus is that they have developed a new way of improving VR latency through a technique called ASW (Asynchronous Space Warp) which is different from the previous technique called ATW (Asynchronous Time Warp). This allows Oculus to further reduce the performance requirement of an Oculus Rift down to an NVIDIA NVDA +1.63% GTX 960 which is a significantly larger potential install base of gamers and PCs.

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