Ever since its first iterations as a niche new gaming technology, VR headset sales have been improving year after year. Despite falling a bit last year, they have rebounded recently and are once again on the rise. However, they’re still quite far from what many would consider “popular” in the gaming community.
There are many reasons for this: Some would blame it on the high entry costs of VR gaming, and the fact that they require an additional investment on top of the costly decision to invest in a gaming console and the games for that console. Another is the limited selection of games offered by VR devices, although this has been becoming less and less of an issue over time with larger and larger titles offering full VR support such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4. Still, others would blame it on motion sickness often caused by poorly optimized headsets, as milliseconds of delay or a single unfortunate glitch can cause wearers to throw up while wearing the helmets.
However, director and executive producer of Bethesda Game Studios blames it on a different problem: Age.
According to an article on Venturebeat about Howard’s time with Gamelab, Howard sounded confident that VR gaming would be able to snag some serious long-term appeal.
Howard says, “I’m a little more VR than AR. We did Fallout and Skyrim in VR. We’re just about to enter the second generation of VR. Historically, the third generation is where it starts to become popular.”
This is big news, especially from the director of Bethesda. Bethesda was responsible for much of VR’s advancement after it decided to bring the aforementioned two titles, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4, into the VR sphere. And considering the company currently has four upcoming titles in various stages of development, it might not be unreasonable to expect at least one of them to ship with on-board VR support or integration.
“The idea is to keep being ambitious. Playing it safe is the worst way to do things. Morrowind was hard. It was our first time on console. If it didn’t do well, the company was probably out of business. Oblivion was really difficult. We really pushed the tech. I liked that line in the movie Shakespeare in Love: How is this going to work out? I don’t know, but it always does.”
Aside from VR advancements, Howard tells Venturebeat how excited he is to be working on Starfield, which will be the first brand-new Bethesda IP that he will ever get to work on. He shared that as a player, he really enjoys playing the “plus one” sequels to previous games, for example Fallout 2, 3, and 4. But as a game designer, he doesn’t enjoy making them.
Howard says that a lot of the design process is about going back and looking at what has been done before, and trying to go in a new direction from there. But that’s impossible with a new title like Starfield, because there’s no way to look at “what came before”. There isn’t anything that “came before”. Howard is looking forward to the process of figuring out how things will work without the safety net of a previous game to fall back on.
Howard also noted on his excitement with the advancement of graphical technology. He says that Bethesda’s upcoming games look very good now, but also admits that games ‘looking good’ is no longer something special; It’s practically a given.
“Visually, things are looking so good. Now it’s how reactive is the world. There is very little you can’t do in a game. You just can’t do it all. You spend time doing, ‘Can I do this, can I do this, can I do this?’ We can do anything. We just can’t do everything.”