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June 21st, 2016

Why Virtual Reality Will Be More Than Just A Bunch Of Games

Punching sharks in the face and shooting things are not the only ways to experience virtual reality.

Games dominate the apps economy. But that doesn’t mean that the future of virtual reality will also be dominated by gamers.

A report by business intelligence company Greenlight VR said that gaming was not at the top of the list when it came to personal virtual reality interests, with travel and tourism the most popular use cases. According to Greenlight’s 2016 Consumer Adoption Report, 73.5% of people would use virtual reality to experience new places or adventures, with gaming considered the sixth most interesting VR use case.

In a survey of over 1,200 people aged between 18 and 60, non-gaming content ranked highly across the board with recorded entertainment, live events (excluding sports), home design and education all beating out a genre that many consider to be the raison d’etre for virtual reality’s current high-profile status. Recorded entertainment and live events were of interest to 67.3% and 67% of people, respectively, with gaming of interest to 61% of people, Greenlight said.

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“Overall, we were struck by the strongly positive and broad interest in VR in general, and in specific uses in particular,” said Greenlight VR’s senior vice president of research and consulting Steve Marshall, in a press release. “Given all the attention in the press, we expected to find gaming as the primary consumer interest in VR. The reality is that consumers have a wide variety of interests for using VR—starting with travel and adventure.”

virtual_reality_interest

Around 74.8% of people said that virtual reality content from an entertainment company would induce them to wear a head-mounted device. Content created or shared by online companies such as Facebook was popular with 64.4% of people. Game-centric content was of interest to 60.7% of people, Greenlight said.

Why The Cost Of A Virtual Reality Headset Matters

One element that could limit the impact that virtual reality has over the next few months is the cost of purchasing a headset, Greenlight said.

With several different options either already available or being released later this year— Sony’s Playstation VR, for example—the majority of people said that they would be willing to pay up to $199 for a headset; 44.7% of people cited that as the perfect price point for an investment. A similar survey undertaken by Greenlight in October 2015 had shown that 71% of people would pay more than $200 for a headset, but it is worth noting that the industry was still very much in the hype cycle at that time.

See also: Oculus Releases A Nausea Rating System For Virtual Reality

High-end headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive had declined in popularity with consumers since October 2015, with only 17% of people happy to splash out more than $400 on a device. Headsets that cost between $200 and $399 were popular with 25.8% of people in June 2016, compared to 31% in October 2015.

headset_cost

Over the last six months, well-known manufacturers have been pushing virtual reality as the next big thing.

This push would account for why low-end options like the Samsung Gear VR and the soon-to-be-released Playstation VR have more traction with consumers; 38.7% of people said they would buy the Samsung product, compared to 24.9 who had an interest in the Oculus Rift. Google Cardboard (which is arguably the virtual reality entry point for non-gamers) was of interest to 15.2%, with the HTC Vive only getting purchase interest of 11.5%.

Not All Virtual Reality Consumers Care About Games

Greenlight said that people are aware of virtual reality’s potential, with 86% of people who have used a VR device rating it a positive experience. However, these are still very early days, especially when you consider that it takes time for a nascent technology to become accepted by the general public.

“Virtual reality has always been more than a medium for gaming experiences and consumers understand that,” said Greenlight VR’s CEO Clifton Dawson. “Our findings from multiple studies suggest that some players in the VR ecosystem may be overly focused on gaming. The reality is that consumers have a wide variety of interests for using virtual reality. Platform and content providers would be wise to consider these bigger, richer findings as they develop their content portfolio and marketing strategies.”

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