It may have been a long time coming but many observers are saying that this will be the year that virtual reality really does come of age. It’s had a few false dawns in the past but the combination of expensive hardware and limited technology meant that the potential was never fully realized. But now it does seem like a world is here in which a user can put on a headset, and possibly also a glove, and enter a virtual world of immersive experiences. 

The signs were there that it was about to come of age when Facebook paid a reported $2 billion for the VR hardware company Oculus Rift in 2014. After all Mark Zuckerberg does have a pretty good track record when it comes to identifying the next big thing in tech.

As well as VR’s many other applications, one of the key industries that it set to transform is gaming in all of its forms. After all, video games have always striven to be as realistic and involving as possible so this is an obvious way to take things to the next level. 

In tandem with this, recent times have also seen a trend for gaming to move away from being played through consoles like the Sony PlayStation and the X-Box to being played through mobile devices like phones and tablets.

So, in the case of the latter, all of the major phone manufacturers are also now producing VR headsets to go with their phones and supplying them at very affordable prices.

At the moment, however, there does seem to be a disconnect between hardware and software manufacturers. So while most reviewers agree that the VR games that have been developed for Sony devices are first class – for example Arkham VR and a fully immersive version of Resident Evil 7 - the hardware to play them on is not yet up to the job of showing them off to the best advantage.

There is also still some confusion about which VR systems will be compatible with which consoles. For example, the Oculus Rift headset is rumored to work with Microsoft’s forthcoming Scorpio console but neither company is prepared to confirm this as yet.

But against this backdrop of an industry in its early days, it surely can’t be long before the various developers and manufacturers get their acts together and produce a coherent offering for players. This is especially true as one of the most successful areas of online gaming, casino, and poker sites, are already starting to look to VR at their next move in the future and having the correct hardware available will be crucial for this to succeed.

If it follows the pattern of previous technological breakthroughs such as laptops and digital cameras the price of the hard ware should not just become more sophisticated but more affordable too – good news for businesses and players alike.