The month of June backed one particular notion for Intel—that a brand must be anchored on a product truth. The multinational tech corporation did just that in the verticals of virtual reality and gaming.
Over the course of the calendar month, Intel signed on as a worldwide Olympics sponsor through 2024 and promised to bring technical prowess by infusing its VR, 360-degree, 5G and 3D content development platforms, artificial intelligence platforms and drones to enhance the winter and summer games.
The mission is multifold, yet simple for Intel—they want to “accelerate the adoption of technology for the future of sports on the world’s largest athletic stage.”
On a domestic level, they partnered with MLB to deliver live and on-demand VR experiences to baseball fans, including an “Intel True VR Game of the Week” that will allow fans to personalize VR experiences with camera angles, postgame highlights, on-demand content and statistics for free on the Intel True VR.
As for gaming, they were front and center at E3 in Los Angeles doubling down on their investments in the space to launch the VR Challenger League, an esports gaming series in VR for The Unspoken and Echo Arena. They also expanded their ongoing relationship with ESL for Intel Extreme Masters (IEM).
AListDaily sat down with Frank Soqui, Intel’s general manager of VR and gaming, to learn more about Intel’s strategy in both of the respective spaces.
On Intel’s methodology to gaming and VR . . .
When we think of VR and gaming at Intel, there’s a lot to it—where they align, and where they can be separate. It’s tempting to think about them as separate segments in separate industries. Take the context of gaming. Clearly gaming is a very immersive type of activity. A lot of gamers want to be drawn more into gaming. VR is a great addition on top of that gaming experience already. As a matter of fact, not just on top of existing games, but new games, and I think we’re going to bring players and new users into gaming because of what VR is going to do. Where VR is separate from gaming is that there is a commercial and enterprise-type application, like collaborating around a design. It could be a whole building, or a car’s design, things where I’m actually doing activities that relate more to business-to-consumer applications, like trying to sell travel experiences or even medical research. We’ve done things with Surgical Theater that showcases what’s possible, and what’s really been done to improve a patient’s life.
On forming partnerships that deliver value . . .
What comes to mind is “how do brands work together and collaborate together to deliver experiences?” Fundamentally, a brand must be anchored on a product truth. You can’t just throw your name on top of something and call it VR. I’ve seen plenty of companies go out there do that. I’m not sure what it means anymore. So your brand has to authentically connect to real product truths—you have to be delivering value in the products and services that you sell for you to want to have your brand associated with it. We’re looking to actually add real value to the products and experiences delivered to the end user, whether it’s gamers, entertainment or a valued proposition to a corporate partnership. You have to deliver something that has value and is measurable. We partner to deliver that message and value. Those are the kinds of things we want to associate our brand and our partners with. A lot of what we’re focusing on is delivering an immersive experience with the people who are doing the development and the creation of content. So it’s really important to us that we find good partnerships in this area that we can expose the value of what our platform delivers.
On how VR can reach mainstream adoption . . .
We work very closely with the software and film industries, looking for the right people who’re on the cutting edge of being able to demonstrate much more immersive capabilities. On the performance side of things, it’s becoming crazily immersive—it requires a lot of performance. I think there’s a lot of things we have to think about as we look at everyone’s desire to move from the performance side and actually scaling to mainstream. It’s very tempting to think about price as the first problem. Price is never a problem when you’re delivering value. So the question is “how do we deliver a habit-forming piece of content you would want to experience every day?” It’s hard to find those. A lot of people are coming up with snack-type applications, but it’s not an application that I have to do every day. We’re interested in looking for that “I need to have it” type usage, whether it’s in gaming, entertainment or building and enhancing corporate abilities to collaborate and solve problems.
On how influencers can amplify the message for the gaming and VR industries . . .
What we see happening in gaming today, especially in the context of VR, is that a lot of gamers, professionals and enthusiasts tend to be early adopters. They’re also hypercritical of the early types of technologies. Although you can get them to buy it and try it, they’re very critical about what’s valuable. Gamers and professionals however are seeing something here that’s pretty compelling. What we want to do is translate those compelling usages, because they have to get it first, and want to do it every day. They’re also a very strong voice of authenticity that influence others. They talk about what’s useful and compelling for them and that translates into what’s compelling for communities. So when I see influencers trying out new products and capabilities—whether it’s a new gaming platform, or a high-end CPU with graphics—we don’t actually have to help them talk about it in an authentic way.
On Intel’s approach with influencers and communities . . .
What we need to do is make sure we’re amplifying their voice. What you want to do with online communities, which are a great place for their voice to be heard, is make sure you’re helping amplify what they’re saying—and not get all corporate, or else they’ll get all defensive and ditch your product. That kind of communication goes very well. Gamers love communities. As soon as they lose their trust, that’s the day it doesn’t work anymore. Always knowing that helps make your product better. They can be a great influencer, or point-of-influence. Help them do the things that they already love to do, and they’ll love to speak about what you do all day long.
On the marketing challenges being presented . . .
First of all, the experiences need to be compelling content. It really comes down to that. Yes, price is important and plays a role. We have to make sure we’re building awareness in what the value is. There are things we’re doing in the industry that are bringing some scale to the price points. So you need some scale to drive price points down. We’re investing in headset technologies like RealSense to make that usage more mainstream. We’re introducing more cores with our processor technologies—things that require the core count today are the ones that we’ll be delivering for the mainstream tomorrow.
Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan