With the launch of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR (PSVR) and Google Daydream, 2016 has been a landmark year for virtual reality technology. But how well has VR taken off, really? We ask industry insiders and analysts their thoughts on how the first year of VR has gone.
“2016 was an exciting year for VR as the launches of PSVR, Vive and Oculus have created a huge demand for content. With device penetration growing and a user base that is eager to engage, developers now have an opportunity to produce VR games and experiences profitably. For those that are championing VR, the existence of a viable business model is huge. It means that Lionsgate and others can start to bring more and more premium content into the marketplace, a key step in broadening the user base of VR beyond the core enthusiasts. John Wick Chronicles is a great example of this. You have a AAA developer/publisher in Starbreeze confidently investing in a high-quality game based on a movie that appeals to the larger gaming community.” – Daniel Engelhardt, vice president of interactive ventures, games and virtual reality, Lionsgate Entertainment
“The media business in general has moved really far over the last 50 years with the transition from print to radio to television and the introduction of mobile devices. Now with virtual reality, we have the ability to take things on the go and it’s a game changer for the industry. Taking live events with you on the road with you changes the consumption of the content. Companies all over the world are launching mobile VR experiences because mobile VR allows you to take the largest screen in your house with you. You are looking at a 180-to-360-degree world with a mobile phone and it becomes the best place to consume content.
“Live virtual reality will forever change how fans experience live events. The next 12 months will mark the first time where fans will be able watch live sports in VR on a consistent basis thanks to our partnership with the NBA. It is undoubtedly the most immersive way ever to experience sports and it will become the de facto sports watching medium of the future. In 2017, you will see the biggest electronics companies all of the world continue to make headsets and groundbreaking technology to support VR. Mobile manufacturers are making screens with higher resolutions and better processors which will improve the quality of the VR experience. With all of those changes happening, VR is going to become mass market and people will spend more and more time immersed in the technology.” – Danny Keens, vice president of content, NextVR
“The VR industry has made great progress in 2016, but faced some of the common challenges of a transformative new medium. The biggest challenge has been and continues to be reach. We all know the VR market is small but growing fast. At Vertebrae, we look to maximize and expand the reach of content as far as possible across the VR ecosystem, and even into mobile/web with 360 video. Further, the growth of VR in 2016 has highlighted the lack of interactive/VR production experience, and we have found VR advertising to be a great testing/proving ground to explore different concepts and production ideas, as these are shorter experiences and do not require the time/investment of a full VR experience.” – Vince Cacace, founder and CEO, Vertebrae
“I think there has been outstanding growth [in VR]. You’re starting to see games that were launched later in the year starting to perform really well. There’s some great content out there, with Sony and PSVR being adopted. There has been a lot of groundwork in the VR space, a lot of great developers bringing content to the market, and there’s going to be a lot of innovation in finding new ways to do things. [For example], we’ve got to solve the issues of locomotion and frame rates, and we’ve got to figure out how to market [games]. There are a lot of things that have happened in a very short time frame—starting in January—with how much more polished the content is and how many more developers are out there. It’s been a lot of progress, and it’s very exciting.” Matt Candler, chief revenue officer, First Contact Entertainment
“I like to say that 2016 was the year that VR hype became VR reality. This year, VR wowed the press but struggled to find mass market appeal. The VR hype cycle started shortly after the announcement of the PSVR and led to a stream of wildly optimistic forecasts in the press, only to finally burst after a disappointing holiday. Still, I do think that despite the barriers to mainstream VR, 2016 showed us that the systems have a real ability to transport and wow people.” Patrick Walker, VP of insights and analytics, EEDAR
“The first year has gone as we expected. Contrary to some other analysts, we have been relatively silent on VR because we foresaw a slow uptake this year. In general, we see VR video as the most important with the most revenue potential.” Peter Warman, CEO, Newzoo
“As expected, which is to say it’s done well. Considering how new the technology is, and how skeptical and unaware general consumers have been, it’s impressive to see more than 4M high-end devices ship in its first full year, especially at their price points. It also says a lot to see the kind of tech leadership that is buying in (Google, Samsung, Sony, Facebook, HTC, etc.). That kind of support is on par with the initial development of smartphones, which shows the kind of promise these heavy-hitters see for VR’s future—and that says a lot.” – Stephanie Llamas, director of research and insights, SuperData Research