In an interview with Engadget the VP of Disney Interactive, John Vignocchi, has discussed the relative merits of AR and VR, coming out largely in favour of the former.
Disney Interactive develops a swathe of casual games using the vast number of licenses at its disposal. Its flagship title, Disney Infinity, brings together popular Disney, Star Wars, and Marvel characters for third-person adventuring and world building.
When Vignocchi was probed on the future of Infinity and the VR revolution, he said that "there's the socialization problem right now with VR, but augmented reality is very exciting", citing talks with Oculus and Sony, but most importantly Microsoft regarding its AR solution HoloLens.
Disney Interactive isn't the first developer to see the potential in Microsoft's AR tech; at E3 2015 Minecraft developer Mojang presented a working demo of its block builder working in conjunction with HoloLens to great effect. Indeed, when Valve was experimenting with its own AR technology before the advent of the HTC Vive, what is now known as the castAR headset was shown working in a social environment bringing tabletop gaming to life. Where creativity and sociability are product keystones, augmented reality has started to turn heads.
The industry divide between immediately social gaming and more insular play hasn't popped out of nowhere. The core identities of the primary games platforms have been static for some, with PC gaming on one side of the spectrum and the family-time friendly Wii at the other.
As the initial rush of excitement surrounding the possibilites of VR and AR have begun to die down, both hardware and software developers have started to more closely interrogate how their products will fit into the new, headset-heavy ecosystem with varying conclusions drawn. Not everyone, it seems, is as keen on VR as first suspected.
The problem comes down to heads, faces, and gaming genres. Most agree that covering your face with several pounds of eye-obscuring electronics disconnects you not only from your immediate environment, but from those around you.
AR, on the other hand, encourages users to play with their immediate surroundings in a communal manner, making shared experience all the more easy. What's the point in playing Mario Kart if you can't see the other person's face when the dreaded red shell srikes?
VR has hooked in core gamers whose interest lies with first-person shooters and solo action experiences, but a swathe of the developer community is becoming increasingly concerned that products like the Oculus Rift may work against the fabric of their creations.
For Disney Interactive it seems that decision has already been made.