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商业 - 科技

谁将赢得虚拟现实领域的三国大战?

Chris Morris 2015年07月05日

随着Oculus、索尼和HTC/Valve研发的虚拟现实头盔即将上市,消费者恐怕将面临一次艰难的选择。鉴于游戏软件的开发还远远没有结束,本文暂时不考虑这项因素,单纯比较这三款产品在硬件技术方面的利弊,以预测哪一款头盔将最有机会受到消费者的追捧。

    进入虚拟现实(VR)那一刻的感觉,实在是语言无法形容的,传统的视频展示也做不到这一点。这也就是为什么很多人宁可在今年的电子娱乐展上排队等候一个小时,甚至更长时间,也要试玩一下最新的VR游戏。

    随着Oculus、索尼和HTC/Valve研发的虚拟现实头盔即将投入市场,消费者恐怕将面临一次艰难的选择。

    不过有一件事是肯定的,那就是这个领域拥有广阔的发展潜力。

    R.W. Baird & Co公司高级分析师柯林•赛巴斯蒂安指出:“这个领域还有很多细节问题要解决,不过我认为在两三年内,VR设备将成为一个非常重要的产品类别。”

    当然,任何人选择VR头盔时,很可能都会集中到几个因素上。高价位将成为让许多人望而兴叹的第一座大山。

    MKM Partners公司的高级证券分析师埃里克•汉德勒指出:“VR每年都会吸引越来越多人的注意,但它仍是个非常昂贵的东西。”

    同样重要的是每个平台的软件——再好的技术也无法改善一款烂游戏的体验。不过目前我们暂时不考虑软件因素(因为VR游戏的制作还没结束),先来比较一下这三家的VR头盔谁最有机会成为热门。

    我们对每个平台都投入了相当时间进行试玩(利用本周的电子娱乐展和以前的几次活动),并总结出了各个产品的利弊。

    Oculus Rift:虚拟现实领域最出名的品牌之一。就在上周,它还获得Ubisoft和Insomniac Games等很多游戏开发商的支持。不过,它的软硬件还没完全就绪。

    利:Oculus拥有VR领域最令人印象深刻的技术团队,而且背后还有Facebook雄厚的财力支持,最近它与微软的合作更使它平添了不少底气。在今年的电子娱乐展上,该公司展示了几款游戏,其中给人印象最深的是《Eve:瓦尔基里》、《无处可逃》和一款第一视角的冰球游戏。在这款冰球游戏中,你将扮演一名守门员,任务是挡住飞来的进球。

    弊:到目前为止,Oculus Rift只在控制得非常严格的情形下展示过,而且Oculus头盔对PC主机的要求极高,现实中只有极少数土豪能满足这些配置。如果Rift真的相当“吃硬件”的话,那么对它持负面反应的人数有可能显著上升。另外一个老生常谈的问题就是,它的价格令很多人望而却步。

    总结:Oculus资金雄厚,并有重量级合作伙伴支持。如果它可以迈过价格这座大山(这个问题并非不重要),降低对最低配置的要求,那么它很有可能会树立VR领域的黄金标准。

    索尼“墨菲斯计划”:Oculus和Valve主要面向PC市场,而索尼是唯一一家想把VR与游戏机搭配在一起的公司。而要想在Oculus上玩Xbox精选游戏,你首先需要的是一台Windows 10系统的PC——而这会导致各种帧速率问题。

    利:有可能影响Valve和Oculus的配置问题,在索尼这里就不是问题了。由于索尼的VR头盔是与参数固定的PlayStation 4游戏机配对的,每个玩家都能获得完全相同的体验,这是一个巨大的优势。从电子娱乐展上看,《Rigs:机械化冲突》、《厨房》以及其它几款游戏的效果都相当不错。因此,开发者们可以放心地优化自家的游戏,构建出一些通用的VR效果,而且也不会有人跑到社交网站或留言板上抱怨说,自己的VR系统玩不了旗舰级别的墨菲斯游戏。

    弊:索尼囊中的现金并不算多。事实上,这家公司正在试图达到收支平衡。因此,虽然竞争对手们很可能会补贴自家的VR头盔,以刺激消费者购买,但索尼很可能没有能力那样做——至少也达不到其他公司的补贴程度。对于早期用户来说,价格可能不是一个重要因素。但随着VR设备渐渐向大众普及,价格将成为一个越来越重要的因素。

    总结:在所有VR公司中,索尼最有可能提供一种吸引人且具有一致性的体验。

    Valve/HTC Vive:Valve和HTC是虚拟现实游戏的后来者,他们选择不参加今年的电子娱乐展,改为在其它活动上进行营销推广,比如即将于今年8月举办的游戏锦标赛,以及竞技性比较强、主要针对消费者的PAX游戏展等等。(我们对该产品的印象主要来自3月的一次亲身试玩。)他们还表示将于2015年正式出货,从而给Oculus和索尼带来了一定的压力。(Oculus Rift和索尼Morpheus的上市时间都是2016年)。

    利:其它VR系统主要注重头盔,而Valve和HTC则关注整个VR环境。它的视觉感毫不逊色于其它竞品。另一方面,你还可以在虚拟世界中走路,并且通过手中的控制装置接触虚拟世界,从而大大提高游戏体验。(Oculus的控制专利还没有确切的发布日期。)那么如果你的房间大小有限怎么办?Vive有一种聪明的方法让你知道:当你走近一堵墙或一个障碍物时,你眼前会闪现出一道栅栏的影像,就像走到了一个全息甲板的边缘。因此,这两家公司完全可以理直气壮地宣称,他们的产品才是真正的虚拟体验。

    弊:在一间空屋子里展示Vive的确是挺炫的,但在真实生活中,你居住的屋子里还有桌椅、灯、宠物等等东西。人们是否会愿意为了玩Vive而经常搬家具呢?

    总结:体验无与伦比,但配置要求高,在真实世界中用它玩游戏的难度也不小,要想在家里获得最佳体验估计有点难。(财富中文网)

    译者:朴成奎

    审校:任文科

    Words can’t accurately paint the picture for what it’s like to step into virtual reality—and traditional video demos don’t do it either. That’s in part why so many people were waiting an hour—and sometimes a lot more—for a 5-minute demo of new VR games at this year’s E3.

    With three major competing VR headsets—from Oculus, Sony and HTC/Valve—preparing to hit the market, that could make it difficult for consumers to decide which headset they want.

    One thing is certain, though. There’s a lot of potential in the category.

    “There are a lot of details to be worked out there, but I think in a couple years, VR could be very relevant,” says Colin Sebastian, senior research analyst with R.W. Baird & Co.

    Ultimately, of course, the VR headset anyone chooses will likely come down to a few factors. And the price of the systems will be the first hurdle.

    “VR is something that, every year, is gaining more traction in the minds of people, but it’s still a very expensive proposition,” says Eric Handler, senior equity analyst at MKM Partners.

    Just as critical is the software available for each platform—since good technology can’t make a bad game better. But if we take that out of the equation (since game lineups have yet to be finalized), which of these headsets stands the best chance at making it?

    After putting in a fair amount of time with each—both at E3 this week and at previous events—we’ve come up with a list of pros and cons.

    Oculus Rift:One of the best-known names in VR, Oculus has picked up a lot of developer support in the past week from companies like Ubisoft and Insomniac Games. But it doesn’t have everything sewn up just yet.

    Pros:Oculus has one of the most impressive teams of technicians working on VR. And it has Facebook’s FB 2.70% unfathomably large war chest backing it up. A recently announced partnership with Microsoft MSFT 0.28% is certain to stoke things as well. At E3, the company was showcasing several games, the most impressive being Eve: Valkyrie, Edge of Nowhere, and a first-person hockey game, where you play as the goalie, deflecting incoming pucks.

    Cons:The Oculus Rift has only been shown in very controlled situations so far—and the minimum specs Oculus has given for PCs running the headset are extremely high. In the real world, very few people can afford those setups. And if the Rift is hardware dependent, that means the odds of people having a negative reaction to the experience increase significantly. The lingering question of the price of the headset remains a concern as well.

    Bottom Line:Oculus is well-funded and has some significant partner support. If it can get past the price hurdle (which isn’t insignificant) and lower its minimum specs bar, it could set the gold standard in VR.

    Sony Project Morpheus:While Oculus and Valve focus on the PC market, Sony SNE 2.80% is the only company looking to bring VR directly to console owners. (To access select Xbox games with Oculus, you’ll need to run them through a Windows 10 PC—which brings up all sorts of framerate concerns.)

    Pros:The problem that could dog Valve and Oculus isn’t a concern for Sony. By making a VR headset for the fixed-spec PlayStation 4, the company knows that everyone is going to have the same experience, which is a huge advantage. Rigs: Mechanized Conflict, The Kitchen and several other games looked particularly good at E3. That lets developers optimize titles so they have less jutter and create VR effects that will be universal moments—without someone hopping onto social media or a message board and complaining that their system couldn’t handle the flagship Morpheus game.

    Cons:Sony isn’t exactly flush with cash these days. In fact, it’s still desperately trying to get its financial house in order. So while its competitors will likely subsidize the cost of their headsets to encourage adoption, Sony may not be in a position where it’s able to do that—and certainly not as much as other companies. Price may not be a big factor for early adopters, but it will be something that will matter more as VR rolls out to the mass audience.

    Bottom Line:Of all the VR companies, Sony is best positioned to offer a compelling, consistent experience.

    Valve/HTC Vive:Valve and HTC were latecomers to the VR game—and opted to sit out E3 this year, choosing instead to focus their marketing at other events, such as a gaming tournament it hosts in August and PAX, a competing, consumer-focused game show. (Impressions here were taken from an extended hands-on demo in March.) They’re also promising a 2015 delivery date, which puts pressure on Oculus and Sony (Both the Oculus Rift and the Sony Morpheus have 2016 launch dates.)

    Pros:While other VR systems just focus on headsets, Valve and HTC have been focusing on a whole VR environment. And while the visuals are just as impressive as the competition, the ability to walk around the virtual world you’re exploring and interact with it physically via the controls in your hand greatly enhances the experience. (Oculus’s proprietary control doesn’t yet have a date attached to it.) Limited room? The Vive has an intelligent way of letting you know, flashing a grid image as you near a wall or obstacle, like you were approaching the edge of a holodeck. The companies could easily argue that they’re the only ones offering a truly virtual experience.

    Cons:Demoing Vive in an empty room is wonderful, but in the real world, there are tables, chairs, lamps and pets that are scattered around your living space. Will people be willing to move furniture out of the way regularly for Vive?

    Bottom Line:The experience can’t be beat, but the setup and practical realities of playing a game with this system are formidable. Optimum experiences at home are going to be tough.

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