In 2018, VR adoption has plenty of demons to chase as it looks to build a larger, more mainstream audience. In 2017, the chief concern for most in the industry was the lack of content available for headsets.
The “content problem,” as it was called, was a huge concern for headset companies like Oculus, which were selling pricey headsets with which users could blaze through the available content in a few weeks. It was a daunting challenge for the young industry, but one that no one seems to be talking about quite as much just a year later.
With VCs still reticent to invest in content and a relatively small user base, how did the industry move past the content problem? Well, a large part was Oculus‘s efforts in spending its way through the problem by investing hundreds of millions in indie developers building new and innovative VR content.
At TechCrunch Sessions: AR/VR (early-bird sale ends Friday) we’ll ask Oculus‘s Executive Producer of Experiences Yelena Rachitsky about the company’s latest strategies for investing in VR content and where they think the biggest opportunities are for VR creators.
Two years ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared at the Oculus developer conference that the company had already pumped $250 million into VR content investments, pledging another $250 million to be invested thereafter. The company hasn’t delivered many other details on total funding since, but fast-forward to the present and it’s difficult to find a VR developer that hasn’t benefited from Oculus’s big investments in the space.
Oculus is still a major driver of content across gaming, but their funding efforts are even more important for studios building immersive cinematic content. While game studios have a tried and true method for monetizing users, revenue options are much less clear for small studios pumping tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into 10-minute VR experiences.
How will these studios eventually monetize is an open question; for now the studios have a lot of very base creative questions they’re still grappling with, like learning how a modern audience will engage with a super modern technology that should theoretically enable much deeper emotional experiences. Oculus has already poured millions of dollars into these non-gaming projects as they’ve shifted away from trying to answer these questions in-house.
VR content creators have learned quite a lot in the last several years about the craft of building immersive content for headsets — a lot about what works, but even more about what doesn’t. At TC Session: AR/VR, we’ll hear from Rachitsky about her first-hand experience at Oculus, helping to build up a network of studios that is pushing the medium’s potential forward year after year.