We ask our industry panel - the brightest and sharpest VR professionals from around the world - one question about the VR industry, business, technology or trending stories every week.
Question: HTC’s Viveport Subscription launched last week, with the first month free. Is this good news for the VR industry as it establishes itself, or will it disappoint both vendors and consumers?
It feels like an attempt to push for the adoption of HTC’s own store.Thomas Bidaux
“This is an interesting move. With the Vive still being so strongly associated with Valve and Steam, it feels like an attempt to push for the adoption of HTC’s own store. The current VR audience is very much made of early adopters, who would generally would be less price sensitive than a wider, less involved audience and the Viveport subscription seems very accessible for anyone able to afford a Vive setup.
“The VR space is still very much trying to figure out its own nature, the pricing of the experiences and the games can vary greatly and this seems like a very interesting case study for a subscription model. I can easily imagine it being used by VR enthusiasts as a cheap way to try new experiences every month, while figuring out which ones deserve to be purchased and join a more permanent library of ‘owned’ content.”
“It’s nice to see Viveport evolve from the free model, where over 50 titles are currently free. Most digital users have an ‘all you eat’ expectation from Netflix and Spotify, so being able to access 50 seems counterintuitive to current consumer usage. It will be interesting to learn how the model affects developers in the short and long term.”
The world has yet to see a highly successful Spotify for games, so it seems like a gamble.Jonathan Wagstaff
"In business, it's generally not a great idea to reinvent the wheel; if a model has been tried and tested before then the risk is obviously not as great. The world has yet to see a highly successful Spotify for games, so it seems like a gamble for an already delicate nascent industry to try changing the software distribution channel.
“Right now, the more difficult issue for consumers is finding high-quality VR software titles (good VR game reviews are thin on the ground), and Steam already gives VR gamers a chance to get a refund within a certain timeframe if they're not satisfied with a product. I've done this several times now.
“Oculus' offer of free games with hardware makes more sense right now, particularly when that title is Robo Recall. It's not unknown for consumers to purchase gaming hardware to only play one title - Virtua Fighter sold at almost 1:1 with the Sega Saturn on launch in Japan - so HTC could do worse than to funnel more funds into a few major software projects to create their own killer app.”
We need to look at how we can make such platforms work for us, consider strategic timing and how we might use them as a marketing tool.Paul Colls
Paul Colls, Creative Director and Co-Founder at Fierce Kaiju
“It’s well documented that making money in VR at this point in time can be… challenging. So on the one hand, I feel like any opportunity for additional revenue has to be a good thing. That said, It’s difficult not to think about the struggles highlighted by musicians with services such as Spotify. Musicians have had to diversify and rely on multiple revenue streams in order to make their money; I can see a similar strategy emerging for Developers.
“We’re arguably already there. Developers build up hype, then release a game. We continue to hit shows and events and try to build up a following for our games. We print T-shirts, sell merch, start up YouTube channels etc - it’s not a million miles away.
“Perhaps we need to look at how we can make such platforms work for us, consider strategic timing and how we might use them as a marketing tool. The additional exposure might help momentum across social media and help sales across other platforms. I’d certainly be open to our games appearing on such services in future.”