The launch of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR (PSVR) and Google Daydream made 2016 a landmark year for virtual reality, but the technology is just getting started, and there’s still a long road ahead. However, many remain optimistic about the direction VR is headed, so [a]listdaily asked a panel of industry insiders and experts their thoughts on how they think virtual reality technology will grow in 2017. Here’s what they had to say:
“We are seeing two areas of growth emerge for VR in 2017. The in-home PC/console market and mobile VR will remain a niche but a growing one as more AAA content enters the marketplace. Location-based VR, whether in theme parks, malls, arcades, theaters or at events, will also be a significant driver. It really is remarkable to see how much fun VR is in a communal setting. For Lionsgate and Starbreeze’s John Wick Chronicles, we’re attracting huge lines at game conferences and Comic-Cons around the world. VR is a spectator sport in many ways. I think that’s why some major players, including IMAX and Starbreeze, with whom we are partnered, are investing heavily in location-based VR. It’s creating a new revenue stream for content creators and will be a very effective tool for broadening awareness and enthusiasm for VR.” – Daniel Engelhardt, VP of interactive ventures, games and virtual reality, Lionsgate Entertainment
“In all our years of business experience, we’ve never seen the reception or interest in a technology that intersects so many different industries. The biggest entertainment and consumer brands are all interested in virtual reality. We are just at the beginning of what will happen with virtual reality. Think of it as the original brick cell phone—as we’ve seen with mobile phones and other consumer technologies, virtual reality is only going to get better. There has been incredible momentum within the last year and interest in virtual reality is only escalating. We continue to explore every opportunity with unbridled enthusiasm.
“The next two years we will see incredible growth in the adoption of virtual reality. As new flagship mobile phones add chipsets specifically for viewing virtual reality, which is already happening, and our platform is added to gaming systems, we will see adoption take off. As a company, we’re focused on maximizing our expansion into sports and large-scale event broadcasting, remaining open to the possibility of venturing into new fields in the future. We’re looking forward to continually producing exciting entertainment events for passionate, expanding fan bases.” – Danny Keens, VP of content, NextVR
“You only have to look at the media awareness to get a sense of where this is going. There are large predictions and financial publications that talk about how the growth of the industry should be $100 billion+ in less than four years. I think that awareness is driving tech development, and it will very soon drive quality content, but we’re not at a tipping point yet. Right now, we’re moving upward and I think we’re going to see more people get into the game in 2017. The business is going to reach unprecedented buzz by Christmas, and you’ll see the tipping point start to happen when we get into 2018. A myriad of things are going to happen then. The goggles, which are big, clunky things right now, will be streamlined and Bluetooth activated on hardware that’s much leaner and sleeker.
“We need to have the tech revolution continue on hardware, we need to see more producers get into the game, and I think all that will really start to move late 2017 and into 2018. So far, the energy seems to be there and we’re well positioned for success.” – Neil Mandt, founder and CEO, Mandt VR
“New native VR ad formats and questions surrounding metrics will become more complicated in 2017. Determining what an impression is and qualifying consumer engagements in the richer, multi-dimensional, more dynamic VR environments is a challenge industry stakeholders must embrace. We need to think about what counts and why, especially as this sector evolves toward a sustainable, long-term business partly financed by a vital advertising component. In 2017, the VR advertising industry should seek out the forward-thinking publishers and creators, and help them work closely with brands and media buyers to test and discover the best ways to measure people’s experiences within VR environments.” – Vince Cacace, founder and CEO, Vertebrae
“We expect VR to be huge, but mass appeal will be led by VR video consumed through high-end mobile VR devices. Apple is taking a risk by not having a high-end VR solution on the market. The NBA advertises their VR service with images of the Samsung Galaxy Gear. Anyone with an iOS device and an interest in watching NBA games (or other entertainment content) live in VR will be forced to try one of the cheap solutions which deliver an extremely poor experience compared to devices that are optimized for VR such as Samsung’s product. This can harm the initial adoption of VR as well as the brand image of Apple in addition to the risk of losing mobile phone users to Samsung. Chinese manufacturers, Xiaomi and Huawei, have recently launched high-end solutions for the China market that has, similar to Japan, had a high adoption rate of VR.
“VR games are cool and will entertain the enthusiast, but partially because of mismatch in business models (pay upfront entertainment while the whole industry has just moved to games-as-a-service), initial revenues will be limited. It is the natural match (in terms of business models) between concerts and sports, in combination with the mass appeal, that makes us more interested in the VR video space at the moment. If 10,000 people per NBA game from everywhere across the globe put up $10 to watch a game in VR, it would open up a new revenue stream of over $100+ million a year for the NBA.” – Peter Warman, CEO, Newzoo
“I’m excited about the chances of mainstream VR in 2017. Broader manufacturer and developer support for Google Daydream will push mobile VR forward, and the first truly must-have content will arrive for high-end VR. In addition, Microsoft is well positioned to take advantage of the mid-generation console releases to push console VR forward. The Scorpio’s power will be able to play more advanced VR content and competition between third-party HMD manufacturers should lower the cost of console headsets.” – Patrick Walker, VP of insights and analytics, EEDAR