Quick Take: HTC’s VR Arcade Revival
Expanding the market for Virtual Reality is something we at MIDiA have spoken at length about in the past year, with pricing and the framing of its use for casual gamers remaining two major sticking points for the adoption of the technology. This is why HTC’s recent announcement of its Viveport online store for VR gaming being expanded into physical location-based arcades for VR experiences initially in China and Taiwan is such a positive step for the overall industry.
Critically, the move caters to the needs and uncertainties of two key players in the VR ecosystem: Developers and Audiences. Speaking on the announcement, Viveport President and SVP of HTC’s Virtual Reality platform Rikard Steiber elaborated on this by claiming that, ‘Viveport Arcade will represent a $100 million market opportunity for VR developers in the next two years. We believe this will be a cornerstone in democratizing access to high-end VR and turning curious consumers into longtime fans.’ This is a savvy move on the part of HTC, whose motivation to succeed in the space arguably runs far deeper than other VR makers such as Facebook, Sony and Google. HTC’s C-suite have ostensibly bet the company’s future on Virtual Reality after the slowdown in their mobile business, whilst others potentially view VR as one of many options for diversifying revenue outside of their core operations.
With ownership of Virtual Reality headsets presently still a niche product, to give consumers the opportunity of trying out a headset in an arcade setting is a far more logical step for stoking product demand than going directly for the home-entertainment market. Previous examples of home technology had frames of reference outside the home (Cinema for home TV and arcade’s for video games), whereas VR presents an entirely new paradigm. That HTC will therefore be doing this in Arcade’s and Kiosks that will no doubt feature exclusively Vive devices and be heavily branded with the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer’s logo and company message is also commercially advantageous – swelling the total VR market whilst simultaneously building brand equity with both audiences and the developers who wish to have their games played. Though Facebook has taken progressive steps through Oculus VR now partnering directly with the Unity development platform – this manoeuvre by HTC could prove decisive in winning the hearts and minds of early adopters in East Asia.