Thirty years ago, VR was a sci-fi concept – a futuristic pipe dream explored in movies and books. Sure, human beings have dabbled with the idea of Virtual Reality since the 18th century. But in reality, strapping on a headset and interacting with a world Matrix-style was a ludicrous notion.
Fast forward to the present and VR is an actual reality. It’s one of the bleeding edge technologies for audio-visual entertainment – with exciting potentials for brands. Businesses are starting to turn to the fantastical world of VR to solve IRL problems too. For example, transforming a photo exhibition into a VR wonderland.
But should you be pursuing virtual reality as the next big money-making opportunity? Let’s find out.
For some industries, VR is a next-gen step to create immersive experiences.
Visual entertainment like video games are certainly feeling the benefits. Valve’s Index headset, used in VR gaming, is the kind of gadget everyone wants to own. Launched in June 2019, there are now over 150k units out in the wild.
It’s an impressive number, considering the hefty price tag. The device is so popular – that new customers will have to wait 8+ weeks to get their hands on a unit.
Next is the brave new frontier of virtual reality cinema – strap on a device like the Oculus Quest for a delicious audio-visual feast. You only need to visit Youtube’s dedicated VR channel to explore the abundant opportunities.
Then there’s the brand potential. McDonald’s Happy Goggles not only show how businesses can use virtual reality to increase engagement – but also how cheap VR can be. Well, at least how some forms of virtual reality can be affordable…
VR’s Ultimate Flaw
Despite all these impressive advancements in technology – and the business potential, VR has one fatal flaw. And it’s a flaw that’s been around since the 90s. Virtual reality is incredibly expensive. The Valve Index we mentioned earlier? That’s going to set a customer back almost a thousand bucks. Ouch.
Of course, it’s worth noting that headsets aren’t always this costly. There’s the Oculus mentioned above, which will set you back around a third of the price. But this is still pricey for something that is essentially a luxury product.
With this in mind, VR is very much out of the hands of your average consumer. The steep pricing means that many businesses would not see the returns on investing into VR as there’s a chance most of their audience will not see it as they’re priced out of the market, however a number of new online casinos are looking into the possibility as the financial benefits can justify the investment required.
However, there are some glimmers of hope out there that more customers will join the VR bandwagon. First and foremost: the price of tech is likely to decrease. As more players join the game – competition will start to become fierce. Even companies like HP have entered the arena with headset options.
Second: there are cheap VR options on the market already. Google Cardboard, for example, shows potential customers how to make a cost-effective set out of something as simple as an old box. It’s not the most glamorous way to try the technology, but it’s taking baby steps in the right direction.
And finally the big money question: should you invest in VR? It depends on your niche – but for many industries, this will be a case of wait and see.