It’s Friday night and you have to choose what to do with your evening. Pretty soon, going to a VR Arcade will be right up there with bowling and movies.
Viveport President, Rikard Steiber, recently announced at Virtual Reality Developer Convention (VRDC) in San Francisco that HTC will be unveiling the Viveport Arcade, a new content delivery platform for arcade operators. This will be critical first step in making VR Arcades sustainable and legal.
One of the biggest challenges with VR arcades currently is content licensing. When an arcade purchases a VR application through Steam or Oculus, they technically aren’t allowed to rent out their game library for profit. Due to the lack of an infrastructure, many existing VR Arcades have been operating without proper game licensing, many never realizing it themselves.
In order for a VR Arcade to be legal, they have to contact the VR developer individually and negotiate a deal for pricing, usage and licensing. This has become a huge pain to both arcade operators and developers alike.
HTC’s Viveport Arcade is attempting to provide a turnkey solution by offering a clear cut revenue split between operators and developers, while handling all the billing and content acquisition. This means, if you have a high end VR device and an entrepreneurial spirit, you could start making money off the VR craze.
Viveport Arcade is launching first in China and Taiwan. HTC says that it will then roll out to “thousands of locations” worldwide by the end of next year.
Another major player getting into the VR arcade content management is Steam, who recently announced their new Steam Site Licensing Program. Interested VR Arcade operators are able to create special Steam accounts and legally acquire game licenses for commercial use.
Right now, the investment into high end VR is still a bit steep with HMDs being at $800 and top of the class computers easily costing $1000+. Many consumers may not be willing to commit such a large sum of money without compelling use cases for VR at home. However, at Viveland in Taipei, a closed booth VR experience will set you back approximately $12 for a 30-minute session. Friends can rent out of a room and engage in VR together. The opportunity for VR arcades arises.
At MGF Seattle, Alisa Kurt of COLOPL NI, a Japanese game publisher, presented some interesting information regarding the growing Chinese VR Arcade scene. First, the number of VR cafes showcasing VR experiences has grown to over 3000 locations. Second, the diversity of people who show up to VR Cafes are more affluent and typically see groups of equal female to male ratios. Third, repeat customer rates are higher on multi-player games. Fourth, the top games currently in VR Arcades are:
- Brookhaven Experiment
- Job Simulator
- Hover Junkers
- Space Pirate Trainer
- The Lab
With this current interest and support from major companies in VR Arcades, it may be very likely you’ll find yourself with a VR arcade in your neighborhood soon.