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At the Oculus Connect 3 conference on October 6, Facebook-owned virtual reality (VR) company Oculus unveiled some of the content that will soon be arriving on its platform.
The conference lifted the lid on Oculus’ vision for social VR and how it will dovetail with Facebook’s social platform, and also revealed a spate of games and video programming that will soon be available on Oculus. Some of the highlights from the conference from a content-perspective include:
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as long evangelized VR as the next paradigm in online communication, and the most social platform ever. Yet many have been puzzled about how this vision will be realized. Last week’s Oculus Connect conference gave answer these questions by shining a light on how Oculus will dovetail with Facebook’s social platform:
- Partnering up with content heavyweights. In probably the most significant piece of content-related news, Oculus announced a collaboration with Disney on content that could debut before the end of the year, and with Alcon Interactive to create VR experiences around Blade Runner 2049, which will be exclusively distributed on Oculus when the film premieres in October 2017. Content will be a key differentiator in VR, and it's possible that we'll see exclusive content deals for different VR platforms, much like we see among music streaming platforms today.
- Lifting the lid on the social VR vision. The company unveiled Avatars to create personalized identities for users in Oculus universe. These work with two new social features – ”parties” and “rooms” – that lets up to eight users group chat, play game, share media and more in a virtual space, ranging from real environments to customized 360-degree landscapes. Avatars are also able to produce human facial expressions by toggling the Oculus Touch controllers. These VR experience are still at an embryonic stage, and they're unlikely to drive regular consumers to adopt Oculus headsets any time soon.
- Melding Oculus with the rest of Facebook. Zuckerberg gave a first glimpse at how Oculus will integrate with Facebook’s broader platform. He demonstrated Oculus VR chat features by answering a Facebook Messenger video call with his headset on, in the virtual space. During the call, Zuckerberg switched between a customized virtual scene to his home living room. His wife, Priscilla Chan, who was on the other side of the line could see Zuckerberg's avatar in these virtual scenes. Zuckerberg then took a VR selfie of his avatar-self with Chan, who was in the video-call chat box, and their dog. The benefits of VR video calling compared to regular video calling aren't clear for now, outside of the the convenience of being able to take a call when using an Oculus headset (while playing a VR game, for instance).
- Investing eagerly into VR content projects. Facebook and Oculus also promised to invest $250 million to help accelerate the production of high-quality VR content, including entertainment, enterprise tools, and games. The funding also specifically sets aside $50 million for mobile VR content, $10 million for educational media VR programs, and and $10 million for VR apps that promote diversity. As alluded to in the first bullet point, a VR's platforms strength will be strictly correlated to the content that it hosts. This is why companies like Facebook and Google are investing large sums to propel VR content creation.
The tech industry has promoted the prospect of VR for the past few decades. But only now, with headsets backed by big names like Sony and Facebook, is VR finally becoming a concrete product with mass market potential. While VR technology is largely associated with the gaming industry, the platform offers a new set of content opportunities in entertainment, advertising, and more.
But where is it all going?
BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on virtual reality content that examines how various VR headset categories will shape VR content development and looks at the trajectory for mobile gaming revenues to get a sense of how spending on VR content might develop. The report also lays out what types of content users and developers can expect on VR platforms, including gaming, video entertainment, and advertising.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
- VR headset manufacturers are driving both the development and distribution of VR content by investing significant technical and monetary resources in developers, in an effort to build up an exclusive content library.
- High demand for VR headsets by mobile and console gamers will fuel demand for VR content. The VR content market will take an increasing portion of the mobile gaming software industry.
- Beyond gaming, VR video entertainment will remain short form until demand for VR headsets increases.
- Ads featured on VR headsets will likely have higher view-through rates than standard video ad spots.
- Other industries are also beginning to experiment with VR content. Travel companies, publishers, e-commerce merchants, and social platforms are beginning to see potential in this new category.
- VR content faces major hurdles that could keep developers from investing: The VR experience must be good enough for people to take up the devices. In addition, developers need to know that a sufficient user base exists to be worthy of the resource investment in VR content.
In full, the report:
- Provides a breakdown of each type of VR headset, what platforms they run on, and how content will differ for each.
- Includes estimates for global VR headset shipments by category.
- Includes a mobile gaming forecast to give a sense of the most important market that will drive spending on VR content in the next five years.
- Lays out what other industries are developing VR programs.
- Discusses some of the potential barriers that could dissuade developers from investing in VR content.
To get your copy of this invaluable guide to the VR universe, choose one of these options:
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The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the world of VR.