Virtual reality opens our lives up to a fascinating new world. VR technology allows us to have a multi-sensory experience within a virtual world created by a computer or a similar device, with the help of a VR headset. By effectively harnessing the potential of VR technology, we are able to see developments in many aspects of our lives, especially entertainment. Could this be the tech that transforms the industry?
VR Set to Transform Entertainment
The market for VR and AR software alone is expected to reach $35 billion by 2025, with the biggest share going to consumer applications – almost $19 billion. Of that figure, $11.6 billion is expected to be the value of the VR and AR video game market, $4.1 billion will come from live events and $3.2 billion from video entertainment. In terms of enterprise and public sector uses, which account for the remaining $16.1 billion, most of the value will come from healthcare ($5.1 billion), where it can have amazing applications, from helping patients with stroke recovery to providing an innovative way to improve medical training, with engineering coming in second at $4.7 billion.
In the entertainment sector, VR content is set to revolutionize the cinema industry. Charity organizations have conducted VR screenings, in an effort to induce more empathy in the audience for the plight of people in Syria or bulls in Spain, while studios like Warner Bros. and Disney are already marketing VR content – the Tribeca Film Festival recently screened no fewer than 29 VR projects. Meanwhile, in the UK, Veero and WeAreCinema joined forces and celebrated Halloween with a series of Covent Garden screenings of short horror movies with VR tech. The music industry is also looking to harness VR technology by bringing major music festivals like Glastonbury to you instead of the other way around – you would simply need to get your VR gear and tune in to watch concerts from bands like The Who from the comfort of your home.
Gaming Already Has a Soft Spot for VR
Yet the biggest market for VR tech is the gaming industry, where it has generated the biggest buzz yet, with VR headsets like Facebook’s Oculus Rift (starting at $399) dominating the market. Gamers are a traditionally open-minded community when it comes to new tech and innovations, eager to try anything that is out of their comfort zone but promises to improve their gaming experience, so it makes sense that VR has found some fervent support from the gaming community. It has even found applications in other areas of entertainment, like online casino games. As Betway Casino reports, VR casinos have been a reality for some years now, and companies like NetEnt have developed versions of many of their big slots for VR headsets, like Samsung’s quite affordable Gear VR, with industry giant Microgaming also experimenting with VR roulette which introduces nice amusing additions like flying asteroids to the game.
Besides online casinos, VR has been extremely popular in the conventional video game industry, with industry giants like PlayStation releasing several titles that are either adapted for VR or designed that way, including the extremely well-received The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – VR and Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, based on the popular TV series. It is interesting to note though that VR gaming seems to appeal to a very particular market, for the time being; despite the fact that gaming has in recent years engaged a wide audience in terms of age and gender, VR games continue to attract an 85% male audience – in contrast to augmented reality games like Pokémon Go, the top-grossing mobile game of all time, which has a predominantly female fan base, or other conventional popular mobile games like Candy Crush, which has a 70% female audience.
VR Hype Converts More Fans
Perhaps this is due to the fact that VR gaming continues to be a relatively expensive pastime: with headsets like the HTC Vive VR System starting at $499, it all comes down to budgeting and how much you would be willing to spend on a new experience that you are not even sure would work for you. Yet it seems that as VR applications become more mainstream and part of everyday entertainment, they generate more hype and engage a growing number of consumers. Steven Spielberg’s latest opus, Ready Player One, based on a popular book and focused on virtual reality, seems to have hit a spot with Chinese viewers, which will positively impact VR sales for the next 12 months.
According to a survey conducted in April 2018 and reported by VentureBeat, over 60% of people who saw the movie planned to purchase VR hardware or upgrade their existing equipment within the next year, which marks a 23% increase. The movie made $439 million in the foreign box office, with more than 50% of that coming from China, where the box office numbers rose to more than $220 million.
VentureBeat also reports that job postings in the VR and AR industry have seen a 93% increase since 2015 – so VR could very well be the next big thing in IT employment, too, as more and more companies seem ready to enter the market.