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 Vive has announced a content partnership for Spielberg’s forthcoming film adaptation of Ready Player One. A lot of people are predicting this will be the big push that VR needs to go mainstream – are you one of them?
I would be more optimistic if the announcement had included a huge new fund from Amblin Entertainment.Jonathan Wagstaff
"A movie tie-in is probably not going to solve the two biggest issues for VR right now: content and cost. It's also fair to say that awareness of VR is fairly high compared to where it was two years ago; from a marketing point of view it's likely that a large portion of the film's audience will also be familiar with at least one form of VR.
“I would be more optimistic if the announcement had included a huge new fund from Amblin Entertainment for games and app developers beyond a 360 degree promotional video. I also doubt that the cost of high-end VR will decrease dramatically over the next year. If it does result in a surge of sales then that's great, but if the AAA app library is still thin on the ground then new users may not stick around.
“That being said, although the book has a huge VR focus, the story is really a nostalgic journey through the early years of arcades and gaming, which taps very well into the memories of the 30+ gamers who make up an important portion of the PC gaming and VR market."
VR going mainstream will be multiple nudges like this than any big push that might be attempted.Thomas Bidaux
“It’s great to see this kind of partnership announced. Ready player One is clearly one of the fiction piece that is inspiring current VR content creators. It highlights the strong interest that Hollywood and the movie industry has for VR - something that was obvious at the past two GDCs.
“As VR is really better experienced than showed, having both a major piece of fiction illustrating the vision of what VR could be, and VR experiences going with it is probably the right approach. The movie is set to release in 12 months’ time and it will be interesting to see how much the hardware park has grown then.
“That said, this is a nice nudge, but not anything near what I would qualify as a ‘big push’ to get mainstream. And to be honest, I also believe that VR going mainstream will be multiple nudges like this than any big push that might be attempted.”
There are many hurdles for VR to overcome.David Gattig
“As a big fan of Ready Player One, I’m extremely excited for this release. Everybody in my VR studio gets a copy of the book to read. I believe it will raise the awareness of VR even further and might even highlight other useful applications of Virtual Reality, like VR education, to the viewers.
“This will be an important step for the industry, but at the same time, there are many hurdles for the VR market to overcome like friction, high prices and availability to go mainstream.”
HTC Vive could do a lot worse than have headsets and AAA experiences in the lobby of every cinema – punters coming out of each screening will be pumped to try it out.Dave Bradley
“Cuddling up to Ready Player One makes a lot of sense for a VR company trying to win the hearts and minds of consumers. It's a feelgood book about VR and retro gaming, with a bit of a coming-of-age love story thrown in; a tossed salad of futurism and nostalgia drizzled with adventure and friendship. It's perfect for Spielberg to adapt for the big screen.
“And it makes VR sound amazing. Unlike Neuromancer or Snow Crash, it's a story that alludes to pop music and 8-bit games – it's a safe environment. Headsets and haptic gloves offer an escape from a grimy world into a realm of fantasy, education, travel, gaming, fun and romance. It's the flip side of the Matrix: VR as a way to flee Earth and become a stronger character, but this time in a largely benevolent, geeky way.
“HTC Vive could do a lot worse than have headsets and AAA experiences ready to try in the lobby of every cinema – punters coming out of each screening will be pumped to try it out. Here's the big challenge for them though: to ensure those first actual VR experiences are amazing. If strangers pile out of screen one full of popcorn and Pepsi and immediately get motion sickness, they'll be put off VR for life. It has to be the smoothest, most joyous experience possible, or it's a wasted chance to market to them.”