Publicly available VR experiences such as those available at Disney and at various arcade establishments have been a driving factor in the widespread adoption of VR over the recent years. These have been very successful, both financially and in their ability to captivate and immerse users in a new and unique experience.
With VR being a burgeoning field with a fairly small — but steadily growing — market, there is a developing need for people to be able to experience VR technology in a way that is both affordable and accessible. As such, static VR experiences housed at arcades and public venues are crucial in expanding the market and enabling access to VR for a wider audience.
An interesting byproduct of this type of publicly available distribution for software and experiences is that of user discovery. As seen in arcade games of the past, patrons might discover something inside an arcade that clicks with them and inspires the user to purchase the hardware for their home use. This might’ve translated to a gamer buying their first console — and in today’s terms, we’ll see users venturing into VR platforms for the first time by purchasing an Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or other HMD as the result of such discovery.
The VU platform itself could very well in the near future have a live arcade component, where new players are introduced to what our virtual world has to offer by way of a short form experience. This is an interesting concept because experiences like VU offer the user the opportunity to really become involved with and attached to that environment.
By enabling the user to shape the world to their needs and whims, and acting as a platform that facilitates real expression and connection with other players — a user can feel somewhat connected to their avatar and adventure in a way that feels continual.
This is much more attractive and compelling than the days of going back to the arcade simply to top a high score set by yourself or your friend group — though I will admit that I kept coming back to games like Asteroids which led me to buy my own Atari 2600 some time ago.
With VR, the experience is much more persistent and binding — anything a user accomplishes will remain, and anything the user chooses to create can be interacted with by other participants. This innately gives first-time users some motive to continue on passed that first dabble into Virtual Reality and see what else the world has to offer.
As VR developers, we have the important task of making a compelling experience that drives people to play and have fun — and VU aims to accomplish this through dynamic storytelling alongside a persistent, open and editable world.
Ciaran Foley is CEO of Ukledo and Immersive Entertainment, Inc. a Southern California virtual reality software company developing a new virtual engagement platform called Virtual Universe (VU).
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