The content ecosystem surrounding VR technology is quickly becoming the biggest opportunity in the sector. iiMedia Research expects the revenue from VR content market to soar by 279% from an estimated 98.9 million USD in 2016 to 375.1 million USD in 2017.
Driven by the growth, a bunch of VR platforms are now competing for to find the “killer content” to be the core force for them to allure more users.
Similar for other content creators, VR developers’ choice of platform depends on a number of factors: cost and accessibility of hardware as well as developer choice between drive revenue or driving broad adoption. Last week, HTC Vive held a developer meetup in Shanghai. I headed over to see what China’s VR content developers are thinking.
Xu Chenliang, founder of VR content outsourcing company
In order to realize the positioning functions that needed in the experience, we choose more sophisticated devices. Currently, all of our contents are based on HTC Vive given its excellent VR experience and supporting services as well as the accessibility. Similar to its parent company Facebook, Oculus’s devices and services are still not available, at least in legal channels, in China.
As an early entrant to the VR content market, we have been feeling the market change as more developers are swarming to this sector. I think the supply is outrunning demand and a price war between VR content providers is looming ahead.
Team of Directive Games, developers of VR game Super Kaiju
Since our company was recruited into the Vive X accelerator, we are developing obviously for HTC platform, but we have also developed a version for the Oculus as well. We are also planning on putting another version out for the Sony PlayStation VR.
A lot of these VR kits just went retail very recently. So the consumer base for all of these kits are small, obviously, the PlayStation is an exception, but for the ones like Oculus, I would say they are still at the very beginning. They still require bit more time to built the user or installment base before we can see the effect the ecosystem would bring.
Although gaming is the first sector that’s pioneering VR technology adoption, it has yet to commercialize as compared to 2B businesses, like real estate. Our team or even the VR gaming industry is still experimenting with more diversified commercialization models.
The in-app payment model that’s been working well in mobile gaming sector wouldn’t fit here cause most of the users have their VR experiences in VR arcades or VR zones in shopping centers. The basic features would be enough for beginners and it’s difficult to convert VR arcades into paid users. But we believe in the potential of the market when hardware penetration goes up in the future.
At this point, the VR platforms are pretty close to each other. HTC Vive started off with a leg up with the controllers that enable stable motion control. Oculus is making great leaps forward with their Oculus touch controllers in the past couple months.
It’s kind of good so you have this kind of duality between the two big companies right now; they are in an arms race to compete with each other. In some industries, you got a single monopoly that controls most things so they don’t have the intention to push their technologies forward. So we are kind of in a good place right now with two companies competing and trying to deliver a better experience to the consumer.
Anonymous developer (chose to not to reveal identity)
We are developing VR contents for car demonstration and airplane maintenance. We are based primarily on HTC Vive now, but also looking to other hardware and platforms. The core parts of the software can be transferred from platform to platform and I think it’s the content quality that really matters. Like an animation, you can watch it in cinema, on PC, or on mobile devices.
Image credit: Emma Lee, Super Kaiju