Home VR ‘isn’t a business yet’ says NBC Universal VR Chief

Home VR has a long way to go before it becomes a viable business model for home use, said Chris Heatherly, EVP for Games and Digital Platforms at NBC Universal, speaking at VentureBeat’s GamesBeat Summit 2018.

“It isn’t a business yet,” he said. “There’s a lot of negativity around VR. I happen to be bullish about the platform, but I think the technology was far from prime time for most users. So the hype bubble got out of control.”

Sony, and its partners, might have something to say about that, having shipped 2m PSVR headsets, but the market for home VR certainly isn’t what many hoped it would be a few years back, when the buzz around early versions of the Oculus Rift development kits was massive.

You can see the optimism of those years in the greenlighting of Ready Player One with no less than Steven Spielberg attached, but while the movie is doing good business, the actual VR market is somewhat muted in comparison.

There is one area in which VR is booming though.

“We’re really focused on location-based VR right now,” said Heatherly in a GamesBeat Summit panel. “If you look at how The Void has done with Star Wars or what Dreamscape has done with Alien Zoon — all of the location VR things that have opened have completely sold out.”

We looked into the The Void’s Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire ourselves and it’s a mightily impressive technical showcase for the medium. Our Jem Alexander was thrilled by the experience saying:

"The Void’s London attractions are temporary pop-ups and it’s incredible how a series of small rooms, nestled in a shopping centre forecourt, can be transformed into epic vistas. The experience takes advantage of as many senses as possible; touch the walls, they’re really there. That railing preventing you from falling into the lava pit is there too. Pick up the gun. Oh yes, pick up the gun. It really exists, and you’d better be prepared to use it."

And the VR attraction format can be turned around far quicker than a traditional roller-coaster attraction – so we could be seeing Ready Player One the VR experience on such tech much sooner than you might expect – presuming that the labyrinthine licensing deals for all those gaming IPs is set for such a move.

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