Subscribe to our monthly report/news updates
and Virtual Reality News Weekly

3 weeks ago

RT @WEARVR: New @WEARVR Developer Center is now live, and opens brand new #VR markets to devs and creators around the world! https://t.co/m

Filter Post Format:


Virtual Reality Game Videos: MMORPG Genre

The MMO market is already massive across all age ranges, from the KT&T (Kids, Tweens and Teen) segment right through to older gamers. Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (i.e. MMORPG) styled virtual worlds is a category we expect to thrive in virtual reality not only because of the engagement related to exploration and questing game mechanics but also the (for lack of a better phrase) ‘utter coolness’ of seeing other people interact in real-time in a shared virtual environment – it’s an incredible experience.

In terms of MMO’s available in VR (dare we call this the MMOVR sector?) we’re at an early stage but it’s very promising nevertheless as game developers are realising this is a key category for future growth, as well as one with a great ability to monetise users. Shown below is the KZero VR Radar for games in this category.

kzero vr radar q2 2014 seg14With VR games still at a demo and/or early development stage, we’ve placed the MMO-style games between the RPG and Exploration categories because the multi-player element will happen over time as the ownership-base of VR headsets expands. So at present these are more solo RPG experiences that will evolve into more multi-player games.

At the younger end of the scale, the Fairy Forest demo shows how a kids/tween MMO could look.

Moving into the older age ranges, here’s some exciting games in development creating immersive exploratory environments in VR. Continue reading →

Slideshare presentation: KZero VR Hardware Radar Q2 2014

This week we released our first version of the Virtual Reality Hardware Radar. The Hardware Radar shows companies developing headsets, controllers and other input devices for the growing Virtual Reality market.

Here’s a Slideshare presentation containing each Radar element as well as product imagery. The full report (with high-res imagery) can be ordered here.

Further information:

Virtual Reality Game Videos: Flying Genre

Flying like a bird, Superman or piloting a plane. That’s what we mean by flying in virtual reality, the second genre being covered in this series showing gameplay videos (the first article covered the Space genre). Before we get to being pilots, here’s some examples of virtual reality allowing the impossible (free flight) and the dangerous (wingsuit flying).

Continue reading →

Virtual Reality Game Videos: Space Genre

Our VR Radar charts (Q2 2014 updated released last week) identify 12 key genres for released and upcoming virtual reality games and experiences.  For each title we place them into our radar format by the forecasted average age of the player or the target audience it’s aimed at.

If you haven’t got an Oculus Rift and haven’t tried any of the Project Morpheus demo’s then don’t worry, we’ve rounded up the latest showcase videos starting with the Space genre. The radar segment belows shows Space-themed titles.

kzero vr radar q2 2014 seg1

Flying games based in space have always been a popular gaming genre right back to the early days of PCs with titles such as Elite. Well, this is one franchise that’s coming back with a bang with Elite: Dangerous. Another hotly anticipated title is EVE: Valkyrie from CCP.

And proving the demand for these types of games there’s a whole host of other space flying games from other developers. What makes these games highly playable isn’t just the battle element of piloting spacecraft but in some cases the deep multiplayer RPG gameplay. Enjoy. Continue reading →

Hardware Radar for Virtual Reality: Q2 2014

Last week we released the Q2 2014 update of the VR Radar map showing games, apps and experiences for consumer virtual reality. This week it’s the turn of hardware and this element of the market is demonstrating as much growth as the software side.

From a funding perspective, the VR hardware market has to a degree piggybacked off the success of Oculus VR on Kickstarter (and the subsequent Andreessen Horowitz investment followed by the Facebook acquisition), with many companies having successfully reached their financing targets or well on the way to achieving them.

Over and above Kickstarter, VC interest has also helped VR hardware companies commence development. The bottom line being that more VC’s are now actively examining opportunties in this space and viewing it as a market worth exploring (read – because there are exits).

Hardware Categories

We’ve segmented the VR hardware market into eight different categories, as follows:

  • HMD – Integrated: A virtual reality head-mounted display with the screen integrated into the unit. This segment (obviously) includes Oculus VR, as well as companies such as VRelia, Gameface Labs, Avegant, Sony and ANTVR.
  • HMD – With Mobile Device: A virtual reality head-mounted display using a third-party mobile device as the screen. Companies in this segment include Durovis, Seebright, Altergaze, Vrizzmo and Samsung.
  • Controller – Hand Device / Glove / Body Unit: An input device using hands and/or body movement for tracking via sensors. PrioVR, STEM, Control VR and Leap Motion are all included in this element of the market.
  • Controller – Haptics:  An input device for hands and body that also provides tactile feedback by force or vibration. The KOR-FX Gaming Vest, iMotion and the Reactive Grip are three of the products included here.
  • 3D Camera: A video or image recording device that captures 3D stereoscopic views. Jaunt, Giroptic and Matterport are within this grouping.
  • End-to-End Platform: A company that provides HMD systems coupled with input devices and motion capture. This category brings together companies that are creating VR experiences encompassing HMDs, input devices, games and other elements. Survios and VRCade are two examples.
  • Misc: Products not fitting into other categories. We’ll keep a close eye on this category to see if it’s worth keeping, but in the meantime we’ve allocated Petal, a VR fan into it.

 Input Systems and Body Controllers Radar

Shown below is the radar segment showing two categories, Controllers: Hand Device / Glove / Body Unit and Controllers: Treadmill / Foot Control.

vr hardware radar q2 2014 seg2

 

We’ve assigned companies according to their launch stage as they bring their products to market. Launch stages are classified as follows:

  • Announced / Pending Funding: A prototype has been announced but the company/inventor has not yet secured funding.
  • In Development: A prototype has been publicly demonstrated and/or the company has funding (privately, via Kickstarter or from third-party funding including VC’s).
  • Pre-Order / Dev Kit Available: The product is in a stage of development beyond a prototype, has made limited versions available to developers and/or is taking pre-orders.
  • Consumer Version Available: The product is available for purchase by the general public.

We have a free report available (order here) that contains all eight categories and a full list (we believe) of all companies developing virtual reality hardware. Drop us a line if you’re developing VR hardware and want to be in the report or let us know if we’ve missed any. We’ve also put the presentation on Slideshare.

What’s not included in our list is the input hardware that Oculus is currently developing (because it’s top-secret). We’ve also excluded the Kinect, although movement tracking is an area we’ll closely monitor for new developments.

Accompanying the eight hardware radar segments within our report are visuals of each product. Shown below are the products in the Controller: Hand Device/Glove/Body Unit category.

vr hardware controllers

 

Of course we can’t forget about the Headsets! We’ve segmented the HMD (Head Mounted Display) market into two groups – Integrated Displays (the head unit has a display built into it) and Mobile Devices (the unit accommodates a separate mobile device that acts as the screen). We’ve also included some headsets that provide virtual and augmented reality experiences. The headset radar segment is shown below.

vr hardware radar q2 2014 seg1

This post contains our forecasts for timings with respect to virtual reality headsets. So far only the Durovis Dive is publicly available although the DK1 from Oculus VR has found its way into the hands of lot of people. Who’s going to be next to bring a virtual reality headset to market?

And as a final point, the importance of the ‘Adult’ marketplace should not be overlooked. The adoption and development of virtual reality, just like video streaming, credit card payments and other online technologies before it, will be assisted to a (some say high) degree by companies that create VR hardware that stimulates certain parts of the body. That’ll be for another post.

Further information:

The Evolution of Virtual Worlds, Part Four. Branded Virtual Reality

This is the fourth article in our series exploring the evolution of virtual worlds. The first post laid out the foundations of popular virtual worlds moving from 2.5D into 3D environments, what we call VW1.0 and 2.0. Part two explores a key growth area for the virtual worlds sector away from the gaming genre – Social Virtual Reality. Our previous post (part three) explained the power and popularity of ‘building stuff’ in virtual worlds, a concept called User Generated Spaces.

In this post, we move away from sandbox environments and socialising and focus on how companies will leverage virtual worlds to create Branded Virtual Reality experiences.

Brands in Second Life

The idea of brands using virtual worlds is not a new one. From an older demographic perspective many brands have dipped their toes into virtual worlds. This activity was activated primarily by the popularity of Second Life from 2007 – 2009 with over 100 brands launching campaigns. In many cases brands created islands in Second Life and in the vast majority of cases these destinations struggled to generate visitors. Why? Because the residents of Second Life tended to hang-out on the main islands and didn’t want to teleport away from ‘the masses’ and check-out an empty branded island.

l'oreal kitchen_001

We adopted a different approach with our campaign for L’Oreal Paris in Second Life. Instead of creating an island and dragging users from the mainland to an island, instead we partnered with existing retailers of virtual goods with shops on the mainland and asked them to stock the products we created.

These products were virtual goods in the form of ‘skins’ based on real-world cosmetics. We also utlised a popular location in Second Life called the Greenies Kitchen – a supersized room allowing visitors to explore a massively scaled kitchen. Inside the kitchen we placed an enlarged handbag containing photorealistic replicas of L’Oreal products. The virtual ‘skins’ were also distributed when users clicked on the products.

The key point to make here is that brands have to create experiences in virtual worlds that the users actually want to engage with. And, if a brand can provide a virtual world user with a product (i.e. a virtual good) that enhances their experience then all the better. The idea that ‘if you build it they will come’ is not necessarily true.

Existing Branded Virtual Worlds

Shifting to a younger demographic, the kids and tween sectors have adopted virtual worlds in their millions. As shown in the graphic below from the KZero Universe Chart, VWs such as Moshi Monsters, Monkey Quest, Moviestar Planet and Poptropica command significant online audiences.

This is turn has facilitated offline revenue streams in the form of merchandising, movies and other forms of branded entertainment.

kzero universe q2 2014 seg2

The way that branded virtual worlds resonate with this age range presents a interesting opportunity to brand owners when the virtual reality market penetrates this demographic.

Branded Virtual Reality

From an experience perspective, the current state of the virtual reality market is being driven by independent developers, enthusiasts and in a small number of cases, larger studios creating games in liaison with headset manufacturers.

Brands haven’t completely ignored the emerging popularity of virtual reality though. As this presentation shows, some companies and IP’s have already dabbled with VR demos. Expect to see more of these types of applications used for expos, product launches and the like.

But once the number of headset owners starts to ramp-up (from early 2015 onwards) with products such as the Oculus Rift (CV1), Sony Project Morpheus and others coming to market, this will be the catalyst for brands to enter the VR space. Here are some examples of how this will happen….

Gaming Brand Extension

3176836171_5aa0b21e9f_o For some brands, virtual reality fits very nicely into their existing brand values. A great example is Red Bull. Red Bull works hard to extend their brand into categories and experiences outside of their actual product, with Red Bull Racing being a perfect example.

This company already ‘has previous’ in the virtual space with a gaming experience inside Playstation Home and it’s easy to envisage this type of VR application being created. But this isn’t just a gaming opportunity for Red Bull – imagine experiencing a real-life real-time Red Bull race streamed from a stereoscopic 3D camera (from a company such as Jaunt).

Music, Movies and TV

Wider product opportunities are also presented to brands over and above VR gaming. Take the music category for example. Music is already a powerful experience in virtual worlds and becomes even more compelling with virtual reality. Branded VR experiences from musicians and bands would allow fans to get even closer to their favourite artists with concepts such as virtual concerts. So, record labels should examine VR as closely as they currently user social media channels.

Movies and TV is another branded virtual reality opportunity. Re-creating sets and places from iconic movie-sets and TV shows has already proven to be popular in VR. Unofficial (i.e. not endorsed or created by the IP owner) examples of this concept include Jerry’s Place, the bridge from the Starship Enterprise , the ‘Trench Run‘ from Star Wars and the Bat Cave. On an official basis, a Game of Thrones VR experience was also created recently.

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 14.44.00

Proving this genre is coming our way, recent reports indicate movie companies are already exploring the use of virtual reality in movies. Maybe soon you will be able to be Iron Man.

Character-Driven VR

Younger users of VR headsets (expected to be a part of the market from mid 2015 onwards) are a valuable piece of the future marketplace. Just as we’ve seen branded virtual worlds already prove popular and more recent developments linking on and off line product (Skylanders and Disney Infinity), we should expect VR environments driven by stories and characters.

These types of experiences will allow the players to be part of a narrative-led VR world, immersed alongside their favourite characters and stories. This could be part exploratory, allowing the players to roam around their favourite worlds as well as have RPG-elements enabling them to quest and play as these characters.

In Summary

Being placed inside a virtual reality environment on your own is compelling but when you’re sharing this ‘virtual space’ with others it becomes a completely different experience.

As the virtual reality market gathers pace, the essence and attributes associated with virtual worlds will be a key driver for adoption and this take-up will take place in several different areas.

Social Virtual Reality – interacting with your friends in a social setting is an area Facebook will be looking to exploit. User Generated Spaces – being able to build your own worlds and explore them with friends is another sweetspot. And not to left behind, as we’ve indicated in this article, Brands and IP owners will also want to leverage the presence of virtual reality. Exciting times!

Further information:

Fairy Forest Goes Totally Off the Rails

Produced in conjunction with Dubit, our Oculus Rift demo Fairy Forest has just had a major upgrade. The first version took a guided tour through the forest on rails – in other words the user experience and journey was pre-determined and took a pre-defined route. Now we’re off the rails, meaning players can freely roam through Fairy Forest and explore wherever they want. Just look out for the Fairies and the occasional fly trap!

The updated DK2 demo is available for download (in PC and Mac format) from the WeArVR portal. Here’s a walkthrough video .

Further information:

The Virtual Reality Radar Chart – VRery Scary Horror Games

Yesterday we released our updated version of the KZero Virtual Reality Radar chart, showing live and in-development games and experiences for the Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus and the Durovis Dive. In this post we’re being brave and diving into the VRery Scary’ Horror genre.

The chart below shows the segment of the KZero VR Radar chart containing RPG, Horror and Exploration games. Looking specifically at the Horror segment, the red circles show games already available. And, proving the popularity of these types of games, the orange dots show games that are currently in development.

kzero vr radar q2 2014 seg14

When the Oculus Rift DK1 started to gather momentum in the developer community, the Horror and Suspense RPG genres quickly became one of the top game-types of choice. Of course, VR is a great format for games that draw on immersiveness and presence and many of these initial games/demos are actually quite scary! Heres some reactions of people playing horror games Alone in the Rift and Don’t Look Back.

among-the-sleep-oculus-riftAmong the Sleep is a recently released game funded via Kickstarter that will shortly have Oculus Rift support. Reports also indicate the game will be compatible with Sony’s Project Morpheus. Krillbute, the game developer positions the game as:

Among the Sleep is a first-person horror adventure where you play as a two-year-old. You’re vulnerable, scared, and trying to make sense of the world. It explores horror through atmosphere and exploration, not with scores and combat systems.”

Another horror game in development is called Spectre and similar to Among the Sleep, also used Kickstarter for funding. Spectre is going to be a multi-player so maybe this is a genre we should call ‘Scared with Friends’.

In addition to new IPs and game titles coming to market, existing franchises are also getting the VR treatment. An example of this is Alien: Isolation, announced this week at E3. Some people think it was the scariest game at the show and the game is heading to the Rift.

Switching platforms, Zombies on the Holodeck is a demo from Survios , a company developing a complete infrastructure for virtual reality gaming incorporating a headset, body movement tracking and controllers. Here’s a neat video showing this game in action.

In the next post we’ll be moving away from the Horror genre and focusing on RPG and Adventure games such as The Assembly, Loading Human and The Gallery: Six Elements. A high-res version of the full KZero VR Radar chart can be ordered here.

Further information:

17 Companies Are Now Developing Virtual Reality Headsets

Following the release of our Virtual and Augmented Reality Device Spectrum map a couple of weeks ago two additional companies have entered the market.

The first one, cMoar is demonstrating at E3 this week and will shortly be announcing a Kickstarter campaign. The second, Altergaze is slightly more advanced from a development perspective, utilises 3D printing and has recently been funded on Kickstarter. Both are mobile device based and from London, UK.

Our original post gives the low-down on the other companies in the Virtual Reality marketplace along with other companies developing Augmented and Mixed reality headsets. Here’s our visualisation of the overall market.

augmented and virtual reality device spectrum

This brings the publicly known total to 17 (forecasted to come to market within 12 months). There are more companies developing VR headsets of course and bear in mind that some of this 17 may not actually deliver a minimum viable developer product.

Nevertheless, in light of this growing number of market entrants the launch timings for the stealth companies become increasingly important.

So, as per the headline from our last post on this subject, the Face Race is definitely on.

Further information:

12 Key Genres for Virtual Reality – the KZero VR Radar Chart

The KZero VR Radar chart shows 12 key segments for consumer virtual reality games, demos and experiences. We first published the VR Radar back in January, with another update in March. Following announcements in recent weeks (as well as at E3 this week) we’ve updated the chart to include new titles and upcoming games. Busy times!

For each title, we’ve assigned what we believe to be an average user age based on the game mechanics, genre and overall user experience. The launch status of each title is also indicated as either red, meaning the title is released or available as a demo or open beta or orange meaning it’s in alpha or announced.

A segment of the VR Radar chart is shown below, containing the Sports/Leisure/Gambling category, Space/Flying and Existing Game Ports.

kzero vr radar q2 2014 seg1

The Existing Game Ports segment contains existing games that have been (or will be) made available with virtual reality versions. Mirrors Edge and Half-Life 2 are two examples here.

The Space/Flying genre is an extremely popular one for virtual reality games. A number of early demos and games have already been released in this category including Lunar Flight, Ambient Flight and War Thunder. Two upcoming games (with comparatively larger development budgets) to keep a close eye on here are Elite: Dangerous from Frontier Developments and EVE Valkyrie.

The third segment shown is Sports/Leisure/Gambling although it’s only sports and leisure games that feature at present (we expect this to change in 2015 with gambling VR games coming to market). Along with several Oculus Rift games already available, primarily based around rollercoasters and racing we’ve also included Durovis Dive titles Bubble Cars and Dive City. The upcoming Racing/Driving games in this segment are the Project Morpheus titles Project Cars and Street Luge, as well as Radial-G.

A high-res version of the KZero VR Radar chart can be ordered here. And finally, this is a fast-moving market with new games and experiences being announced almost daily so we’ll be updating the charts on a regular basis.