Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own. Advertiser Disclosure

VR vs. AR

See a different world or view your world differently.

Disclaimer: This page is not financial advice or an endorsement of digital assets, providers or services. Digital assets are volatile and risky, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. Potential regulations or policies can affect their availability and services provided. Talk with a financial professional before making a decision. Finder or the author may own cryptocurrency discussed on this page.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) sound like the same thing, but they require different technology and have different capabilities and applications.

What is VR?

Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated fictional world, like a video game or metaverse, where users can interact with the environment around them. It can be immersive, thanks to VR gear that enhances the experience.

VR gear can include:

  • Headsets
  • Motion controllers
  • Treadmills
  • Haptic vests
  • Haptic gloves

Shop VR gear

Oculus products and accessories
Oculus products and accessories


The VR rhythm game Beat Saber is a great example of gaming meets VR. It’s like Guitar Hero or Rock Band but with lightsabers. It’s set in a neon environment where players hold two lightsabers using motion controllers that slash incoming blocks that are mapped to songs.

There are also metaverse VR games that don’t have a specific objective and are geared toward world-building, socializing and property ownership, like Roblox and Spatial. Metaverse games can let players create their own avatar, decorate virtual spaces with nonfungible tokens (NFTs) and even buy virtual real estate to host events or build games.


Image source:

A virtual reality environment that’s fully immersive would require the integration of all five senses. However, we’re limited to touch and vision at the moment — you can’t yet smell or taste anything in your virtual environment.

Current VR tech is limited, so it’s considered semi-immersive.

What is AR?

AR stands for augmented reality. It’s a sort of blend between the real world and a virtual one. AR enhances our real-world setting by overlaying information.

A great example of an AR game is Pokémon GO. With the game open on a mobile device, the camera is used to “see” Pokémon in the real world. The in-game map copies the player’s actual geographical location, so they had to move to specific physical locations to play parts of the game. For example, a gas station around the corner may have a PokéStop, where players could collect items.

Image source: Pokémon GO,

There are also AR apps outside of gaming, like a stargazer app that lets you hold up your smart device to the sky to view constellations or identify stars, planets and satellites.

Filters, like on Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram, are also under the AR umbrella. These programs map your face and superimpose features to it, like dog ears, different facial characteristics or animations. Or a piece of bread.


Image source: @benzosnapchats

When you’re navigating with a map app on your phone, you’re also using AR technology.

Using an AR game or app requires little to no gear compared to VR games. In most cases, your phone and the AR application is all you need. However, some apps have smartglasses capabilities that display information on the lens, like incoming messages, calls, reminders, videos or images.

VR vs. AR: The differences

VR games are much more immersive than AR games. You use your body to play the game, with the help of motion controllers, VR headsets to see and look around and maybe even haptic vests that let you “feel” stimuli in-game.

In an AR application, you’re not transported to another environment. Instead, the fictional environment or digital bits are built on top of our current reality.

In terms of cost, VR applications and setup are much more expensive. Buying just a headset and controller combo could cost you anywhere from $300 to $600 or more, depending on the model or if it’s an addition to your existing console.

A Playstation VR bundle, excluding the console, retails for $349.99. The Oculus Quest 2 — a standalone device — starts at $299 as of March 2022. There are also VR setups that require a computer, like the Valve Index by Steam, that starts at $999.

Many AR apps and games are free to download and may only require your phone, whereas VR games typically only require your phone and its camera. Smartglasses are another story, though, and they can retail anywhere from $60 to $3,000, depending on the model and its functionality.

VR vs. AR: Snapshot comparison

Augmented realityVirtual reality
Devices requiredMobile device or smartglasssesHeadsets and controllers, console. Optional gear includes haptic wearables and treadmills.
Level of immersionNonimmersive or semi-immersiveSemi-immersive
CostExcluding mobile device cost, often free to download and use recreational applicationsStarts at $300 for gear. VR games and apps may be around $60, depending on the platform.
UsesGames, educational materials, filters, accessibility, design, entertainment and more.Games, educational materials, design, entertainment, chat, world-building, metaverse interaction and more.

VR vs. AR on application

New applications for both AR and VR are in development all the time.

An AR app can be great for educational materials, such as medical training, design, art and gaming. Use a device’s camera for a view you normally wouldn’t be able to see — whether it’s fictional or reality-based.

Virtual reality right now is more tailored to recreational applications such as gaming, social spaces or the metaverse. Headsets can have microphones built in, wearable gear can let you move your character’s arm by moving your actual arm and haptic wearables can even simulate getting hit by an enemy in a game.

@gingasvr Reply to @momomnom my shouting 💅 #VR #skyrim #skyrimvr #bethesda #gaming #rpg ♬ Its not the vibe STOP – Sloppers

Can VR and AR be used together?

Combining VR and AR is called mixed reality. It’s exactly what it sounds like — using AR and VR tech together to interact with a virtual environment that’s built on top of our current reality. It lets you interact with physical and virtual items together.

Combining VR and AR can involve wearing a headset that adds images to your current environment or a simulation game that’s projected and mapped to your kitchen table.

Microsoft created the HoloLens, advertised as “An ergonomic, untethered self-contained holographic device.” That’s a mouthful.

HoloLens is considered a mixed-reality device. This device lets you connect with clients and coworkers remotely and even create hands-on education materials.

The different sector applications Microsoft advertises include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Engineering
  • Healthcare
  • Education

Pegaxy Review 1
Image source: Microsoft

Bottom line

Virtual realities by themselves are nothing new. Video games are technically VR — but now, the term is referring to VR gear that transports you to an immersive environment that you can interact with directly. VR gear can be used to enter the metaverse and feel like you’re “really” there. However, it isn’t cheap.

AR tech has also been around for a while, and you’ve likely already interacted with AR technology without even realizing it. New-use applications are continuously being created: filters, navigation, learning materials — the applications are nearly endless. And in terms of cost, it’s becoming easier to get involved with these applications.

Compare marketplaces to buy NFTs

Name Product Categories Blockchains Payment methods Platform Genre
Gala Entertainment
Gala Entertainment
Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, GALA
Blockchain games
Blockchain gaming platforms where you can earn Gala and NFTs through playing.
Collectibles, Gaming, Trading cards
Cryptocurrency, PayPal
Browser, mobile
Trading card game (TCG)
Splinterlands is a digital, play-to-earn, collectible card game built on hive blockchain technology.
Browser, mobile
Racing, collectibles
A blockchain-based horse racing game featuring NFT horses, breeding and earning opportunities.
Sports, Collectibles, Gaming, Trading cards
Credit card, Debit card, Cryptocurrency, Bank transfer
Trading card and fantasy sports app
A fantasy football game with collectible NFT cards, officially supported by the biggest soccer leagues in the world.
Binance NFT Marketplace
Sports, Collectibles, Art, Gaming, Music, Trading cards, Domain names, Metaverse (Virtual Worlds), Memes, DeFi, Mixed
Credit card, Debit card, Cryptocurrency, Bank transfer
NFT marketplace
A peer-to-peer marketplace supported by one of the worlds largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance. Not currently available to U.S. residents.

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Go to site