HTC Vive is one of the three major players in the virtual reality marketplace, joining the Facebook-owned Oculus and Sony PlayStation VR as key companies trying to shape the visceral vertical by pouring millions in moolah into funding content creation for a growing consumer base.
According to research firm SuperData, the VR industry will grow to $4.9 billion in 2016. Creating immersive experiences that will garner widespread consumer attraction is primarily the name of the game.
HTC Vive, which differentiates its product with room-scale VR, marked their first anniversary in the marketplace in April by celebrating the launch of the first-ever subscription model for a VR app store.
Developers are celebrating them, too. According to a VR/AR Innovation Report compiled from responses from 600 professionals last week, the HTC Vive is the most popular (56 percent) VR platform to develop for.
Rikard Steiber, president of Viveport at HTC Vive, joined AListDaily to offer some updates on the current state of the industry.
On HTC Vive joining forces with Warner Bros. and Steven Spielberg for Ready Player One to create content experiences . . .
VR is very exciting, but it’s also very hard to explain to people around the world. That’s why we’re so excited about our partnership with Steven Spielberg and Warner Bros. around the new movie Ready Player One. There are movies that are the defining films for robots, and artificial intelligence, for example. We believe the VR experiences for Ready Player One could be the defining movie that explains VR to everyone. We’re partnering with them to create various kind of content experiences, to make it come alive all the way until the movie’s theatrical release in March 2018. . . . We’re most proud of the content creators and developers. We have over 1,600 [experiences] being developed just this year, and this will be the year we have the triple-A titles. I think Hollywood is really stepping up the game. Most of the big movies and IPs are creating VR experiences today. Ready Player One is going to have more native VR experiences from Hollywood. This is just the beginning of things to come. We’ll see what kind of experiences we’ll create after that.
On launching a $10 million program showing how VR can lead to positive impact and sustainability . . .
With this great technology, you can now democratize access to the experience. So places where only a few could go before, everyone can go now. I think that space is kind of the final frontier, and everyone’s really excited about space. We have one initiative with VR For Impact where we’re using this technology to try and save the planets. We’re working together with the United Nations on their 17 sustainability goals. We recently announced that we’re having our first content project. They’re going to send the world’s first VR camera satellite into space so that we can all join them to see our fragile planet. Hopefully, we’ll take actions to take good care of it.
On the impact VR has on marketing and advertising . . .
VR will have a huge impact on advertising and marketing because it’s the most immersive and experiential media. Brands always want to create experiences. Now consumers can go into VR and really experience the brand and the product in a completely new way. There’s a good opportunity because developers and creators need funding for their projects. It’s a great way for brands to engage, and not to have advertising in your face, but to actually be a part of a creative experience for the consumer. Consumers want to have great experiences from great brands. We’re starting to see brands like Nissan and BMW engage with great IP to basically fund these experiences. When it comes to VR technology, premium content costs a lot of money to create. There will be good opportunities for brands and advertisers to engage, like they did in television in the early days.
On the marketing challenges of VR . . .
VR clearly has a marketing problem because it’s a very experiential medium. It’s like The Matrix with Neo and Morpheus—you have to take the pill and run down the rabbit hole to experience the matrix. You cannot explain the Matrix. That’s why it’s so important for us to make VR accessible to everyone in places like retail stores and VRcades so that anyone can try it and understand its potential. For us to market VR and work with the industry, our strategy is essentially to let others speak for us, let the developers show their content, let them show their experiences. When we’re at shows, we want to show off the developers. We want to show all the awesome stuff they’re doing. We want to show how you can create things in VR, how you can basically be social in VR or how you can build your business in VR.
On the current consumer adoption rate of VR . . .
It’s mainly gaming and entertainment consumers who are the early adopters. But we’re seeing a lot of interest from schools and education sectors, from creatives to designing arts. I think that consumers are very curious. I think that most people now have heard about VR, but clearly everyone hasn’t tried it. They may have tried some simple 360-degree videos. But I do believe with all of the experiences in VRcades, retail and shopping malls, most people will have tried it by the end of this year. Hopefully then they’ll think it was such a great experience that they’ll get one for their house. In the not too distant future, VR will be like the internet. It will just be there. It’ll be like a utility; we won’t even think about it. It will be natural to go somewhere or learn something in VR. When we build our car, we won’t do it on a web page. We’ll do it in VR—it will be very natural. It will take a little bit of time for people to get used to the idea and to build these experiences. But the interesting thing with VR is it is not about the future—it’s here today.
Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan