Where Can VR Take Tennis?

Posted on October 02 2018

Virtual Reality video games seem to be one of those things that everyone marvels at, but when it comes to it, virtually nobody has gone out and bought one. But could that all be about to change with the new Oculus Quest virtual reality headset? Could this have real consequences for how you get your tennis game on at home? The guys at Venture Beat recently checked out the new machinery, and you can see their VR tennis match up here.

In the past, the gaming market has been largely dominated by sports such as soccer, football, basketball, and hockey, with tennis very much on the periphery. Top Spin Tennis is probably one for the tennis diehard, and while Mario Tennis garnered some popularity, it is found greatly lacking in realism. But is a top notch VR headset the kickstart that tennis gaming needs?

The Oculus Quest’s key technological advance is that it is wireless, and this really lends itself to tennis. From Spring 2019, and for the price of $400, you will be able to run around your imaginary tennis court, doing your best Federer impressions ‘till your heart’s content.

One reason this particular model of gaming might suit tennis especially well is that unlike other sports, you can play with just two players. Whereas in soccer, or football you have to rely on CPU players to fill in where you can’t, tennis you can have a pure, one on one, virtual matchup. This means that tennis might be able to offer the virtual gaming world one of the most authentic
virtual sporting experiences.

Although the version that is played in the original article seems to be more akin to Mario Tennis, there is nothing stopping the development of an ultra realistic ATP or WTA version of the game. This no doubt would be very exciting for tennis fans, but would the effects on tennis itself be positive or negative?

This could go one of two ways, either VR can inspire people to get outside for real, or people will simply settle for a VR game of tennis, and not follow on to play the game for real.

We tend to believe the latter, any exposure that tennis can get is positive exposure, and if people enjoy the game, and the format enough, then eventually they will want to try it for real. Imagine, 20 years from now, a Wimbledon winner who was inspired to play tennis by VR!

Obviously this might be beyond the absolute tennis purist, but even they will not quibble if tennis embracing VR leads to greater numbers of people taking up the sport. At the end of the day, the more people you can get playing tennis, the greater the tennis you are likely to see.

We’re pretty excited about where VR can take tennis gaming, and to see where tennis gaming can take tennis. The sport of tennis seems like an ideal match for the virtual reality technology that is being developed today, and we think that’s pretty exciting.

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