Reinventing the Real: AR and VR at the London Games Festival

 In Games

With an estimated 50,000 visitors, the London Games Festival has quickly established itself as one of the key dates on the UK’s gaming calendar. This year, RIFT R&D’s own Liam Dowe was on a panel at the event, discussing the state of investment in Virtual Reality technology and applications.

AR and VR were major features of the show, with the Mixed Reality Summit taking place on the 4th of April. The 3-hour summit began with an opening keynote “fireside chat” with Niantic Labs CEO, John Hanke. Niantic, of course, is the force that put Augmented Reality into mainstream minds and mobiles worldwide with the insanely successful Pokemon GO last summer. Not surprisingly, Hanke has a keen interest in the potential of AR to combine social gaming with exercise and exploration. With the combined Augmented and Virtual Reality market set to top £126 billion by 2020, it’s clear there’s plenty of room for both technologies to grow.

Liam Dowe shared the “Investment in VR: Is the Hype Over?” panel with some distinguished company. Other guests were Dr. Dave Ranyard, the founder and CEO of development studio Dream Reality Interactive, L.K. Shelley of AVMCap & IPCapital and Timothy Leeson of Lewis Silkin LLP. Discussion centred on the gradual settling of the initial flood of hype around VR, and asked exactly how seriously it was being taken now the excited screaming is dying down. It’s getting easier to find investment in the field, so companies are looking for ways to take the technology to a wider market. Clearly, making that all-important leap into the mainstream is a significant challenge, but it’s already apparent that tax relief is a massive boost to the UK gaming industry. Liam argued that, with so many VR companies benefiting from Video Games Tax Relief, it makes strong sense for decision-makers in government to keep that momentum going whatever happens after the UK leaves the EU.

The main conclusion of the panel was that content is the key. If there are great experiences to be had through VR technology, then the audience for it will continue to grow. If that content stagnates, then people will look elsewhere.

The show was full of fascinating talks and presentations, including live demos of upcoming AR and VR games. What was particularly striking was the way the technology’s blending and combining other media, from theatre to film, into experiences that simply can’t be replicated without it. We’re still really only seeing the tip of the AR/VR iceberg here. Of course, there’s enormous potential outside of gaming, too, with applications cropping up everywhere from classrooms and crash helmets to operating theatres and construction sites.

That diversity is already being seen and seized upon by start-ups all over the UK, from Immersive Rehab’s physiotherapy games to  Waveoptics’ multi-purpose AR lenses. As always, it’s about turning big ideas into better business. R&D Tax Credits, and particularly VGTR, can and must be at the core of your strategy in a field that virtually defines inventiveness.

Call or email to talk to RIFT about VGTR and R&D Tax Credits. With enough investment and innovation, the sky’s no limit at all.

Read the Proteus VR case study on our Research and Development website.

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