AllChinaTech’s Co-founder, Wu Nan, moderated a panel about the future of the VR gaming industry with leading international VR game providers on Thursday at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) Beijing 2016. Speakers included Aurelien Palasse, VP of Ubisoft Greater China, Ludovic Bodin, CEO from Cmune, Chris Mitchell, OSVR business lead from Razer, and Xavier Selva, CEO of Trinus VR.
Many may consider the current VR market “segmented”. Desktop VR offers a more immersive and better VR experience, but is rather expensive, while mobile VR is a relatively low-cost alternative, but doesn’t compare to the fantastic experience of desktop VR. On the one hand, Bodin believes that mobile VR, with its flexibility, will eventually dominate the global market. On the other hand, Selva, whose Trinus VR is developed to bridge mobile VR and desktop VR, said that the former may attract more VR users and lead them to engage with the latter.
“For 5 or 10 dollars, people can experience what VR is like with, for example, Google Cardboard, and then they’d think, well, I’m gonna try PC!” Selva told AllChinaTech.
Trinus VR is a system that delivers PC VR quality to mobile headsets like Google Cardboard. It can also convert some software into a VR experience including games and videos. According to Selva, Trinus VR also has applications in education and science, though gaming is its major focus.
Mitchell’s passion for gaming led him into a career marketing and helping develop products such as the Razer Mamba, the Razer Naga, Razer Arena and the OSVR HDK. He said that the software framework that Razer would like to use for VR lies in the essence of OSVR, or Open Source Virtual Reality platform. “We want to build an open source platform that can maximize VR developers’ contributions to the VR industry, a platform that is not controlled by any company or entity,” Mitchell told AllChinaTech. With bugs fixed almost daily for its software, OSVR will introduce its 1.4 version of HDK this June.
Bodin is more cautious about pouring investment into VR games, but his attitude remains positive. “When we looked at VR, we saw an opportunity to reinvent again the multiplayer shooter experience, as it needed to happen on console, then glass, and now with VR,” he told AllChinaTech. “We saw an opportunity to create an even more immersive experience, accessible to the masses around the world. We truly believe that those experiences are even more fun if they can be shared with friends in a multiplayer and somehow competitive environment.”
Cmune is a leading game developer and publisher specializing in making multiplayer shooter mobile and VR games including Bullet Rush and Deadheads. Dedicated to multiplayer shooters for last decade, its PC games have attracted 30 million players around the world.
But one shouldn’t talk about technology without content. As Palasse said, “hardware is sold because of the content.” Mitchell said that while VR games about flight or space simulation are popular, and horror games have much room for development because of their strong emotional appeal, more casual games are needed potentially with a slower pace to broaden their appeal.
Although the speakers agreed that the entire industry is still experimenting with VR, China has started to play its part, and it’s a crucial one. Besides promising VR players in the scene such as 3Glasses and DeePoon, Xiaomi is now working with Ubisoft Mobile and Cmune. Chinese VR makers will drive the price of VR headsets down from the high-end VR gear like Oculus with a price tag of USD 600, to the made-in-China ones such as Baofeng Mojing VR for USD 30 or so, the panelists observed.
Ubisoft releases a dozen games a year for mobile devices. One of its hit creations is Hungry Shark Evolution. Though the company is partnering with publishers in China and self-publishing on China’s local Android stores and billing channels, Palasse said that it remains a question as to whether foreign content developers would find it easy marching into China. It depends on whether the Chinese market will give full access to foreign VR games into China.
With insights on China’s mobile and gaming industry, Bo Yiqun, founder and CEO of DayDayUp coworking space and former president of GWC who helped organize the Global VR Summit, observed the main trend in China’s VR industry after speaking to VR industry executives at the Summit. He said that many Chinese VR makers are making profits because of the heat of the VR market and that ‘low-cost’ VR headsets made in China are stealing market share from the high-end VR such as HTC. Cheaper VR headsets are much more accessible to users. “However, the profits from VR hardware makers might transform to VR content developers in the future, as the devices are ready, users are hungry to consume,” he told AllChinaTech.
(Eric Sun contributed to this story.)
AllChinaTech has a media partnership with GMIC. AllChinaTech is a startup media platform dedicated to providing timely news and analysis on the Chinese tech industry in English.