Develop:VR Event Preview

Develop:VR Event Preview

With the Develop:VR one-day conference returning to London next week, we pick half a dozen of the best speakers and sessions to check out.


Opening Keynote

Stuart Whyte’s opening keynote will be a great way to start the day at 09:30. The Director of VR Product Development for London Studios at Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe will talk about Taking VR to the Next Level – A Case Study in AAA Games Development.

Whyte will talk about the current state of the VR industry and looks to the future and how developers can accelerate the adoption curve through creating AAA experiences. The session covers the challenges and opportunities of AAA VR development and suggests potential solutions to maximise success for any sized studio.

Having just revealed its next project, Blood & Truth, at the PlayStation event at Paris Games Week, we’ll be interested to hear Whyte’s keynote.


Non-Entertainment Revenue Potential

Stepping outside of games, the panel session, Serious VR – Making Real Money, will explore the industries making tangible revenues with non-entertainment VR, including a closer look at how government are utilising VR including the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Justice.

The conversation will cover the revenue models that are actually making sustainable income using VR, how other industries are looking at entertainment led VR and learning lessons to maximise their existing Immersive Technology strategies, and which industries (with money to spend) are seeking to engage with games and VR industry talent.

The panel will feature Tanya Laird, Founder at Digital Jam; Shaun Beaney, Manager at Corporate Finance Faculty, ICAEW; and Afzal Ali of the Defence Solutions Centre.


VR And Moral Panic

Catherine Allen, VR Curator and Producer - and Focal Point panellist - will deliver a session titled VR and Moral Panic: The Unexpected Fear Factor That Can Make or Break Your VR’s Journey into Mainstream Culture.

Here’s how she describes the topic:

You’ve spent years building your latest VR product; developing it into something you think will be of huge value to your customers lives. You and your team are brimming with hope and hype. However, as we have all seen with video games, new forms of media can sometimes trigger sensationalised fear and worry from the mass media and then, the public – a phenomena that sociologists describe as ‘moral panic’.

We’ve seen it before with technology ranging from the telegram to the telephone to television; essentially, if a new form of media changes our relationship with time, space and each other, then the conditions for moral panic are ripe. VR is the perfect moral panic case study, as we are seeing this phenomena begin to happen in front of our eyes.

Using VR as a reference point, Catherine will demonstrate how the knowledge of a new technology’s very existence can bring out society’s deep down hopes and fears about humanity’s future.


Bringing Brands Into VR

Another Focal Point panellist, we first heard Brynley Gibson, Head of Studios at Curve DIgital, deliver his talk, Collaborating with Brands to Create Magical VR, at XR Connects Helsinki and thoroughly recommend it for anyone interested in working with brands in VR.

His session will answer questions including, what does creating VR for a brand entail? What is the purpose of it? How can we collaborate with stakeholders to deliver value? And how can we ensure we deliver an authentic experience for users?

Bringing his extensive experience in VR development on PlayStation VR Worlds and leaning on his recent award-winning work on The Chainsmokers Paris VR project as a starting point, Brynley will explore this topic.


Funding Question Time

Another panel debate, this one features developers and funders discussing their experiences of getting their latest projects funded, the new trends in funding and how to think outside the box on your next funding round.

The developers will share their experiences in putting together a successful pitch and getting work for hire projects. They’ll also tell you what NOT to do in your next pitch. Bring your questions to ask about your own funding dilemmas. Do you crowdfund your next project? Do you go down the traditional VC route?

Let this panel of experienced pros help you figure out your next steps, featuring: Ella Romanos, Founder at Rocket Lolly Games; Dave Ranyard, Founder at Dream Reality Interactive; Martin de Ronde, Creative Director at Force Field VR; Thomas Gere, Founder at Realities Centre; Rebecca Gregory-Clarke, Lead Technologist at Digital Catapult and Simon Barratt of Cooperative Innovations.


HoloLens Ahoy!

Rounding out the day is an explanation of how to get started in bringing your existing developer skills and apps to Windows Mixed Reality devices, including HoloLens. Pete Daukintis and Mike Taulty, Development and Technical Evangelists at Microsoft, will review the current WMR landscape and platform, stopping off along the way to have a look at the devices and the scenarios, where they shine and what a prospective developer needs to know about the platform, tools, frameworks, runtimes, languages and resources that are available.


You can download a PDF of the final speaker schedule here.


We’ll be at Develop:VR next week - make sure you say hello!

Managing Editor

Steve is an award-winning editor and copywriter with nearly 25 years’ experience specialising in consumer technology and video games. He was part of a BAFTA nominated developer studio. In addition to editing, Steve contributes to,, and, as well as creating marketing content for a range of SMEs and agencies.