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Crossing the Chasm – Virtual Reality Launch Strategies for Mass Adoption

This is an article about the First Time User Experience (FTUE) for virtual reality headset users, managing the expectation levels of these users and ultimately how companies developing virtual reality headsets and platforms need to carefully plan for mass consumer adoption in order to get it right first time.

The State of the Market

The Virtual Reality market is at a critical stage in its evolution. 2014 has been a very big year for VR with several companies (large and small) announcing upcoming VR headsets. Coupled to this, the number of games being developed for VR is now well over 100 with developers ranging from AAA studios right down to enthusiasts creating content at home. Closing the loop, we’re now also seeing the ecosystem include companies developing input systems for hand gestures and full body VR control.

But just because this sector is seeing multi-million dollar investments flowing in to it doesn’t necessarily mean this market will be successful. This is because there’s one person yet to be invited to this party – the consumer.

Adoption Curves and Hype Cycles

Let’s start by determining ‘where we’re at’ in terms of market development. Shown below is the Technology Adoption Curve and the Gartner Hype Cycle – two visualisation tools used to demonstrate the various stages of consumer take-up of new technologies. We have indicated (the red circle) where we believe the Consumer Virtual Reality market currently sits on both curves.

kzero technology adoption curve and hype cycle

Looking at the Gartner Hype Cycle first, here are the five lifecycle phases (sourced from Wikipedia): Continue reading →

The BBC Virtual Newsroom

The BBC Future Media division has just released a great example of a Mirror World in VR. The BBC Virtual Newsroom transports Oculus Rift owners into the news department of the BBC.

This is a passive experience, meaning you can’t navigate around the various parts of the studio or broadcasting units, but instead you have a 360 degree view around the camera position. It’s a nice demonstration of how VR can be used to take people to places they wouldn’t or couldn’t normally visit. The demo can be downloaded here.

kzero bbc virtual newsroom2

kzero bbc virtual newsroom3

This isn’t the first time a TV station has allowed people to virtually explore a studio. Sky News re-created their news studio in Second Life back in 2007, although this is the first use of virtual reality in this context. The image below shows the virtual studio in Second Life.

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 21.20.05

Although this isn’t really a virtual world experience, we would still classify this as a demo of a Mirror World – using virtual reality to allow the exploration of a real world place. The Mirror World genre is yet to gather momentum in virtual reality but expect this to change quite quickly in the near future. Here’s the Mirror World category in the KZero VR Radar.

kzero vr radar q2 2014 seg2

 

Further information:

 

Rebooting Mirror Worlds with Virtual Reality

eiffel_003-1A Mirror World is a virtual world based on a real-life place – a digital re-creation of an existing landmark, building, region or even an entire country.

Mirror Worlds became popular initially in virtual worlds such as Second Life, that allowed the activity due to the presence of User Generated Content (UGC) – users purchasing land and re-creating real world places. And there was a lot of them.

Other UGC based virtual worlds such as Minecraft allowed this theme to continue. Coupled to the ‘community building’ element of Mirror Worlds (users taking VW tools and deciding to create their own places), a small number of companies were established to focus solely on Mirror World business models, the best example being Twinity, a German company that launched a virtual version of Berlin.

Were these initial Mirror Worlds popular? To a degree yes. Users were interested in exploring these digital environments but the business models didn’t really promise what was on paper – the experience just wasn’t real enough. Although what was being shown on screen looked realistic and reflective of the real world place, the interface (the monitor screen) experience still felt a little remote.

However, with the coming consumer push around virtual reality, we expect the interest in Mirror Worlds to re-emerge. In fact, we’ve identified it as one of the key sectors for consumer adoption in our latest VR Radar chart analysis.

1374192331894673y4iy66r_1381343406006Using VR technologies to place users within Mirror Worlds is an altogether different and more immersive experience than viewing on a monitor as users are placed within the Mirror World environment.

An early demo of this genre has been created for the Oculus Rift. Virtual Tuscany is a virtual reality representation of a Tuscan house and garden. You’ll have to try it yourself to really understand how immersive it is, but rest assured it’s a great demo.

In terms of the applications for Mirror Worlds and Virtual Reality, here’s a few examples:

  • Tourism: Allowing people to virtually visit places they’ve never been before. These could include cities and landmarks.
  • Construction/development: Allowing people to explore commercial and residential properties.
  • Geography: We see education as a perfect vertical for VR Mirror Worlds and in this example students (or anyone else for that matter) could visit Mirror Worlds based on ocean floors, deserts, glaciers – you get the idea!
  • History: This is an interesting concept (and already observed within Second Life) that would allow people to visit historic venues and places from the past.
  • And our favourite – just for the hell of it. If people are given the tools to create, then that’s what they’re going to do.

Also, don’t forget about Google Maps, Street View and Indoor Maps. These are all currently being worked on to incorporate VR capabilities.

Mirror Worlds are explained further in our new report: Consumer Virtual Reality – State of the Market.

Looking to develop an Oculus Rift application? Contact us here.

 

 

Radar chart: Toys/games, fantasy and mirror worlds

Following on from our Universe chart posts for Q4 2009, we’re delighted to release the Radar charts. These charts show, be genre, virtual worlds either live or in development. The chart below shows three segments, Toys/real world games, fantasy/questing and mirror worlds.

kzero radar q409 seg2

For the Toys and real world games segment, we’re expecting a lot of movement. Mattel has lead this segment with Barbie Girls and we’re now seeing Hasbro/EA move into the market with the Littlest Pet Shop Online (LPOS) and Ubisoft with Imagine, launching shortly (Shameless plug alert – both are KZero consulting clients). And let’s not forget about Lego Universe. Continue reading →

Twinity does time travel. A good use for mirror worlds.

Berlin-based virtual world Twinity has an interesting campaign going on at the moment. And, more importantly, is demonstrating a good use for mirror worlds -the ability to revisit events and places from the past.

Picture 1This is a concept KZero first presented and explained over two years ago as a good (read – build engagement) use for mirror worlds.

The concept of using mirror worlds for time travel is explained in this post as well as in a summary presentation delivered at Virtual Worlds London. Well done Twinity.

We see mirror worlds with the right positioning and activities as being a key driver for older user VW adoption. Here’s the slide from the 2008 conference referencing this…

They’ve re-constructed the Berlin Wall ala 1989 from the Reichstag to checkpoint Charlie in remembrance of the upcoming 20 year anniversary of it coming down. Here’s the video.

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Growth forecasts for the Virtual Worlds sector

We’re excited about the growth in virtual worlds, very excited in fact. As we release our forecasts for the sector, perhaps it’s time to have a quick look back over a frantic few years…

In an unfortunate way, the global credit crunch got in the way a little (the understatement of the year – not just for VWs of course). Late 2006 was the start of things. Sure, worlds like Habbo, There and Second Life were around pre-2006, but it wasn’t until brands started moving into SL that media awareness grew and, of course, users began to notice the metaverse.

Without a doubt, 2007 was the year of Second Life, with over 100 brands setting up islands. This created major attention, good and bad. And nevertheless, while No Brand is and Island, this marketing surge took virtual worlds mainstream. Linden Lab has a lot to be thanked for – Virtual Worlds were on the map in 2007. Additionally, we can’t forget about the Disney acquisition of Club Penguin – the catalyst for Kids, Tweens and Teens (KT&T) related business plans to pop up at an astonishing rate, ‘Chasing the Penguin’ as we call it.

2008? This was growth across many segments. Mirror Worlds came into play, more KT&T worlds were launched and suddenly the sector was rocking. The longer established worlds continued to grow their multi-million registered user bases and the new worlds started to battle it out.

Then we moved into 2009. Everything was looking rosy until the economy stepped in and slowed the launch of new worlds due to lack or drop-off in funding. Interestingly, ARPPU’s didn’t really take a hit, as users continued to spend money in-world. However, generally the growth and momentum seen in the sector upto the end of 2008 was impacted. But, as we start to move towards 2010, what does the future have in store? One thing’s a dead cert – we’ll be producing lots more charts – you can see them all here.

Lot’s of brand-new concepts in the VW space is one area that’s really exciting. More KT&T worlds? Absolutely – we think this age segment will continue to drive growth. And we’re optimistic about older worlds catered towards adults (in an ‘adult’ sense as well as propositions aimed at more mature audiences), with learning and education plus gambling being key genres to watch.

Here’s our forecast for the growth in the number of virtual worlds. By the end of this year we’ll be at the 150 mark for total worlds. We forecast this number to double by the end of 2010.

A rapid increase, driven largely by media sector companies creating IP-driven platforms for the toys, TV programmes, films and other properties. Just as almost every KT&T property has a website, we expect them to have a VW or at least presence in virtual worlds – along the ‘Theme-Park’ approach discussed in the past.

We expect growth past 2010 onwards to come from multiple areas. Education and older age ranges will supplement KT&T growth. Also socnet extension from ‘pages to places‘ is a natural movement. Combine all of this and we get to our 2012 forecast of 900 virtual worlds.

Continue reading →

Who says you cant re-live history? Now, you can in Historic Philadelphia

Walking through time has taken a whole new meaning when GeoSim Virtual Philadelphia and the Independence Hall Association launched a Virtual Tour of Historic Philadelphia in 3D. The application, developed jointly in late June, is up and running at www.geosimphilly.com.

Using GeoSims mirror-world technology most of Old Philadelphia had been previously virtualized, but now fifty-two of Philadelphias historic sites have become stops on a virtual tour within GeoSim Philly. Users can see these sites in 3D rendering and interact with US History guides or avatars wearing period costumes who can answer questions and offer basic historic facts about the places visited. Furthermore, the virtual tour is fully integrated with the USHistory.org website so that visitors can jump back and forth between the two websites after downloading and installing GeoSim Virtual Philadelphia.

Continue reading →

Virtual World Accounts Q2 2009: 10 to 15

This is the busiest segment of the overall virtual worlds space. Here’s the Universe chart for virtual worlds with average ages between 10 and 15.

See all the age ranges and virtual worlds here.

Proving the Point (Cloud mapping with Earthmine)

An interesting video of ‘Stereo’ image capture and point-cloud mapping from Earthmine. Looking it this another way, it’s an alternative solution for Mirror Worlds.

Ancient virtual worlds

Well, not all ancient, but certainly historic. As a follow-up to this post about the potential for mirror worlds to re-create times gone by, here’s some machinima showing early demonstrations of this concept.

The Forbidden City IBM project:

Slightly different this time, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: a Virtual Satellite Tour:

Continue reading →