Virtual reality has been the focus of a lot of efforts for the last couple of years. Only lately, has there been a VR gear which is affordable and easy to install. Google’s Daydream VR system is in contrast to other offerings from HTC and Oculus Rift. However, HTC may be changing the rules of engagement about VR.
VR the Medium
A lot of people conveniently forget that VR is a medium. It carries information or content to be read and enjoyed by people. There is a big investment in the hardware, and hence the resulting high price attached to it. People initially are not adopting VR because of the price, and the necessity of other equally expensive equipment. However, it should be noted that if there is a reason for using it, or if the experience is truly satisfying, then people would still buy it nonetheless.
This brings us to the next problem. There is a relatively small amount of content. This is where HTC is trying to push things. HTC will be selling VR content as a subscription service. This will be more affordable than just buying the titles. With a subscription service of $7 per month, it becomes more affordable for a lot of people.
The subscription service is to be launched to coincide (or commemorate) the first year anniversary of the HTC Vive VR gaming unit. The subscription service will allow users to download 5 Vive-compatible titles every month. Users can download new titles every month, or they can continue playing the titles that they already have. For Vive owners, they have a one-month subscription free trial with their purchase.
Content as a Pusher for the Service
HTC has already lined up 50 titles to go with the service. There are plans to expand on this as they collaborate with VR content makers. The VR titles are not just games, but also educational content. HTC has not reached the levels of Valve’s Steam channel, where VRSteam OS users come to download their games. Currently, Valve has around 1,600 titles in their library. HTC Vive is mainly about VR for the PC. There haven’t been any reports of the Vive supporting cell phone VR soon.
In the meantime, Google has also been quiet about their VR offerings on Daydream. They are still trying to fix their pipeline as there is an unmet demand for the Pixel phones. Without the Pixel phones, there would be no purchases of the Daydream headgear. And without the Daydream headgear, there would be no demand for any content.
In the competitive world of the cell phone, a lot of things are dependent on a pipeline. Although Apple has been notorious with their initial sales expectations not reflecting the actual demand, Google is another company which does not seem to know how to do a proper estimation. For Apple, the demand for the AirBud earphones was unexpected, and it would seem that they were grossly underestimated.
VR in the Future
Industry analysts are bullish that VR would be big in the future. However, at the moment, VR is still associated with games, and expensive rigs, connected to high-end expensive PCs. What HTC is doing it trying to create the supply for the future VR users, and at the same time, make it less expensive for those who want to adopt this technology. The $7 subscription is affordable and at the same time serves as a heroin fix.
It is expected that with good content driving sales, there would be more people trying VR and see for themselves if they like it. The resulting demand will show if the HTC strategy will work.
VR can be utilized or used in a variety of ways. It can be used for games, as well as education and training. It may also be used for communication purposes. At the same time, it can be used for robotics and remote control. For instance, a remote robotic operation can be done with the use of VR equipment and graphics, working hand in hand with remote robotic units located in another country.
In education and training, the use of simulation tools and games can be implemented to train for scenarios for various industries and jobs. The cost of simulation tools and games can also go lower once there are more users of these tools.
VR is an important technology, which as yet is still misunderstood, or there is a lack of understanding. The idea behind VR is that the reality part can be created from historical data or simulations. The virtual part is the practice where actions can be shown to work out in the VR world.
Although it seems that you can do training with a wide screen instead of a VR, the experience and life-like stimuli in the VR world trick the user into believing the reality of VR. There are users who have gone into VR having motion sickness because of the VR effects.
So far, Google has made it easy for everyone else in the cell phone industry to go into VR. They have made it possible for ordinary people to have their VR gear. What is lacking, however, is more space and titles to work with. Once there are compelling media to play or work with, new users would follow. This is a chain reaction, which works both ways, whether moving forward or backward. Creating a demand is easy if there are titles and the equipment is affordable.Google+