Are Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality Game Changers?
By Vansh Sangwan - December 4, 2019
AR and VR are some of the hottest topics in gaming, both showing huge potential across countless industries. Gaming has always been a trailblazer when it comes to new tech and monetization models. The sensors that now power Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality headset, for example, were first used in Kinect for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Immersion is a key reason why many consumers love engaging with media, with AR/VR making this even more compelling and interactive in ways that were never before possible.
Blockbuster games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Skyrim already let gamers immerse themselves in worlds different from our own, and a VR headset enables you to be one step closer to the experience.
The consensus about VR game experiences has been generally positive. However, due to the high cost of high-end VR headsets, consumer adoption has been slower than expected. What’s more, many high-end devices, such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, require the user to own a games console or high-spec PC in addition to the headset itself.
However, powerful standalone VR headsets, such as the Oculus Quest, are starting to hit the market. Mobile also has a big part to play in this development, as these standalone headsets are powered by mobile tech.
AR, on the other hand, has boundless potential on mobile. AR phenomenon Pokémon GO captured the hearts of millions across the world. Even though AR was only a small part of what made the game so popular among millions of consumers, it has introduced the technology to the mainstream. With both Apple and Google investing heavily in AR – through ARKit and ARCore, respectively – it’s just a matter of time before the AR revolution kicks off on mobile.
Going forward, publishers must utilize AR to enhance their games’ core mechanics. It is worth noting that emerging AR technology, such as depth sensors, is required for immersive AR on smartphones to become a reality.
Right now, VR gaming is a solitary experience that is not easy to share with others. However, Facebook envisions that Oculus will one day be a means for its users to virtually “hang out” with one another.
Competitive gaming—as well as headset use among gamers—is becoming more popular, in no small part due to the success of Fortnite. Going forward, VR gaming faces the challenge of making the platform more social.
VR headsets are expensive, require a dedicated space, and have a long set-up time. It also takes time to learn how to properly use a VR headset.
Most consumer technology these days are intuitive in that they are easy to pick up and use. VR, on the other hand, is less accessible in this respect.
Content for VR is currently too limited, with many developers waiting for VR to pick up more steam before they enter into the fray.
Demand for VR game content is less than the demand for console/PC games, as these platforms have a far larger installed base. Big publishers are therefore unlikely to risk investing in a VR game from the ground up.
Consumers want the content to justify a headset purchase. And the content creators are waiting for a bigger installed base to develop new VR content. Due to this catch-22 situation, innovation is likely to come from smaller studios.
AR software development kits are young and are being heavily and continuously updated. This means developers are still learning how to best develop for AR. AR hardware is also still in early-stage development. For consumers, true wearable AR glasses are still several years away.
AR is a means for gamers to interact with their physical environment. Back in 2016, Pokémon GO showed that the platform can give way to a fresh new genre—one that resonated with many consumers, encouraging them to explore their local environments.
More than three years after Pokémon GO’s release, gamers are still waiting for AR’s next big phenomenon. For the platform to continue to grow, more innovative new game types are required that make AR an integral part of the overall experience.
Monetizing AR is still under exploration and growth, particularly in gaming. But by bringing a game to life in ways not previously possible, AR ultimately enhances consumer engagement in a game and can lead to increased LTV.
Developers could create AR game features as part of a “premium” model for users, or try out in-game AR ads. Additionally, developers could partner with retail brands for location-based AR activations. Retail applications are also experimenting with monetizing AR, such as “try before you buy” features which allow you to visualize products.