Sunday, February 25, 2024

Can the Vision Pro play VR games?

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A person wearing the Apple Vision Pro overlaid on a screenshot of Half-Life: Alyx.A person wearing the Apple Vision Pro overlaid on a screenshot of Half-Life: Alyx. Apple/Valve

The Apple Vision Pro is best described as a spatial computer, but it’s also a VR headset with great mixed-reality capabilities.

Contents

  • Vision Pro VR games
  • Why aren’t there more spatial games?
  • Where are the controllers?
  • Streaming videos and other apps

That means that, yes, it should be capable of immersing you in some really fun VR games, and at least a few are already available.

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Vision Pro VR games

The VR game Demeo has a nice mixed-reality mode. Resolution Games

Apple announced a few VR games that should be available at the launch of the Vision Pro, which is rapidly approaching. Apple prefers to call them spatial games, aligning well with the term spatial computing.

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  • The most expensive Apple Vision Pro costs $4,547

Apple only mentioned three spatial games for the Vision Pro: Game Room, What the Golf?, and Super Fruit Ninja. What the Golf? exists on the Meta Quest store and looks like an entertaining miniature golf-like experience. Super Fruit Ninja lets you slice frantically flying fruit by chopping it with your hands.

Thanks to Vision Pro-focused tweeter M1, we know Game Room is a collection of classic card games and board games, including Hearts, Solitaire, Yacht, Sea Battle, and Chess.

pic.twitter.com/Cll8eJXLf1

— M1 (@M1Astra) January 23, 2024

M1 also posted screenshots of Lego Builder’s Journey on X, suggesting it would also come to the Vision Pro. The puzzle game lets you build scenes with virtual Lego blocks.

LEGO Builder's Journey app for Apple Vision Pro! pic.twitter.com/TZxZD3qPSX

— M1 (@M1Astra) January 21, 2024

The most notable spatial game to cross over from VR gaming so far is Demeo. It’s like a dungeon-crawling, role-playing board game that comes to life with animated characters set in a fantasy world with creatures and magic. It’s available on SteamVR, the Meta Quest store, and PlayStation VR2. Demeo developer Resolution Games is adept at cross-platform gaming, and a flat-screen version works on Windows, macOS, and iPadOS.

Playing on the Meta Quest 3 in mixed reality mode is quite engaging. The board game can be placed directly on a table or scaled up and dropped on the floor. The Vision Pro version should be stunning and could become the most popular game for early adopters looking for a compelling spatial game.

UploadVR mentioned Demeo and one other confirmed VR app. Just Hoops is an arcade basketball game that lets you practice free throws in a variety of settings. Mixed reality is supported, so you can bring the net with you wherever you go. It sounds fun but won’t hold your attention for very long.

Why aren’t there more spatial games?

A screenshot of the VR game Half-Life Alyx, which probably won’t come to the Vision Pro. Valve

Anyone hoping for Half-Life: Alyx or other great VR games with amazing artwork, expansive worlds, and intriguing storylines to arrive on the Vision Pro might be disappointed, at least in the short term.

Large studios need AAA games to sell millions of copies to recover design and development costs. Since the Vision Pro is an ultra-premium headset with relatively low sales targets, there won’t be enough users to justify top-quality games that are entirely new. But technically, ports are possible.

The number of spatial games announced so far is surprisingly small, perhaps because Apple wants to distance itself from VR, which is heavily focused on gaming. Apple’s app submission page tells developers to avoid terms like “augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), extended reality (XR), or mixed reality (MR).” If you’re a VR game developer, that might be discouraging.

Where are the controllers?

A person plays NBA 2K23 on Vision Pro with a PlayStation DualSense controller. Apple

Another reason for the limited number of titles might be the lack of motion controllers. With the Vision Pro, you use your hands to control the device. Other VR headsets, like the Meta Quest 3, have hand tracking but include controllers with buttons and joysticks.

Making spatial games for the Vision Pro without controllers is possible, but it requires a shift in thinking. Current VR titles will need to be reworked to adapt to the new input method, which will take time. With a limited number of Vision Pro owners, there’s not much incentive for developers to put in the extra effort.

Even console games are designed to work with controllers. That fact isn’t entirely lost on Apple, and the Vision Pro does work with a traditional console game controller like the Sony PlayStation DualSense Wireless Controller.

That will work well for the Apple Arcade games that will appear in a TV-like window, but won’t work for VR games that expect you to be able to separate your hands while operating controls.

What if you want to dual-wield blasters, aiming each at different opponents? Will we need to pull an imaginary, non-tactile trigger or give a voice command to fire? The best VR headsets for gaming work with, and often include, VR controllers.

It’s possible that Apple will develop its own spatial controllers for the Vision Pro in the future, but right now, it’s focused on hand gestures only. In the meantime, third-party developers could fill that gap.

Streaming videos and other apps

The Apple Vision Pro can stream Apple TV+ content. Apple

Apple didn’t place a strong focus on gaming, preferring to showcase the Vision Pro’s refined user interface that should make media consumption and browsing almost effortless. You can do almost everything with a glance and a pinch.

Voice input lets you lose the keyboard entirely. You can type on a virtual keyboard or connect Bluetooth accessories for the most productivity.

Apple’s system apps handle most casual use well, and several third-party apps are available. Check out our collection of all the apps available for the Vision Pro.

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