Friday 4 November 2016

Guest Blog: Demoing VR is still key to audience engagement

When it comes to marketing a product, in regards to any product not just virtual reality content,  showcasing the product to your audience is important. With VR, it allows us to help work towards building the future audiences. You’ll hear influencers and speakers talk about “when VR headsets are adopted by the mainstream audience or general public” – there are necessary hoops we must go through until this becomes true for all major headsets that are now available to purchase. 

VR is no longer the rare product that appears in the corners of major game or tech events. It is now a key attraction, gathering extensive crowds and queues. In fact, event organisers and floor planners are working it into their strategy, having to take special measures for VR kit such as; dividers to ensure VR setups don’t interfere with each other, additional space for safety and ensuring room for larger than average queues.

Conference organisers have begun creating VR tracks, panels and talking with the major headset providers such as HTC, Sony & Oculus, pitching for them to take demo space on the main floors to try and satisfy demand.

Encouraging consumer adoption is important for developers and content creators as they don’t want the games and experiences they have spent months (even years) creating to flop, after all studios and publishers need to make enough money to ensure they afford their next production. Demoing headsets and content is an important part of this process, not only to promote their game but the whole medium of virtual reality.

Breaking Fourth's David Kaskel about to demo virtual reality to a customer at VRUK (Feb, 2016)
VR production studio Breaking Fourth, took the demo concept one step further. In July 2016, they held a theatre run for their debut production ‘Ctrl’. This involved placing 20 people at a time in their VR creation, providing viewers with a first-hand look at both the technology and the storytelling skills of the studio. Being held in a theatre, this approach also took the VR demo concept and transformed it into the premise for an exciting night out. It was met with rave reviews from CityAm, Wired and VRFocus.

Seeing is believing is crucial for this industry. A lot people need to try out technology before they want to use it. You go to the apple store to try out the newest apple watch before you buy it. The same applies to VR, it is an investment for the future. VR will be a big part of our home life in years to come. But like every larger purchase, you must give it a go before you make that investment.

By Bertie Mills, co-founder and MD of Virtual Umbrella 

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