When it comes to marketing Virtual Reality (VR) games; there are a handful of new technologies that can be used to get the desired media attention as well as a high number of early adopters. Of these important innovations, virtual reality is by far one of the most popular media as it offers unparalleled marketing opportunities for content creators. Despite the glaring benefits of VR, it is not without its peculiar challenges.
The following are some challenges involved in marketing VR Games, and how developers can avoid them.
VR Media is Getting Pickier!
While the VR industry showed and is still showing great potentials; the media, game marketplaces, gaming events and pretty much everyone has offered additional support to VR developers. However, very few VR game developers have managed to create unique user experiences.
The majority of developers have simply tried to either create VR shooter games in multiple environments or just ported their existing games to VR for no reason. The result? A big load of pithy content in VR marketplaces and the unavoidable difficulty in discovering quality VR games, just as it is on mobile platforms.
Today, VR bloggers and YouTubers are very selective of which VR game to write and promote about. You will still find folks from general gaming or the tech media industry who will accept your game for review, but don’t expect to receive tangible visibility from these portals. Most won’t even have the VR headsets and necessary gear to test or review your games. So do not waste your time communicating with them!
This challenge can be tackled by first understanding your audience, and their platform. While PSVR (PlayStation Virtual Reality) gamers can enjoy the 360-degree view even as they game from the couch, so HTC Vive content must take advantage of the room scale experience.
Once you clearly understand this: make a VR game, not a game using VR. This is the only way to get a front seat in media even as you easily reach a big number of VR early adopters. Also begin to showcase games at events ahead of launch, and try to secure periodic coverage before you proceed with your VR game launch so as to make the most the VR trend.
Challenges at VR Demo Booths
While handling a VR Booth at the recent event, with indie developers who enjoyed a ‘free booth’ at the big game conference, I noticed some challenges. Most of the people present who were interested in using the HTC Vive that we had for the demo, were using it for the very first time. While their fascination with the technology was understandable, answering their questions about the VR Gear instead of getting feedback on our game was a time waster.
Additionally, we were unable to equip every booth visitor with the HTC Vive as we only had one, and a single playing a session took around 10 minutes or more per person. This situation significantly reduced the number of people who tried our game per day and we ultimately did not make the most of our presence at that conference.
Soon we decided on a single person who would just talk about the HTC Vive, and handle all device related questions. Our developer reduced the demo session to 1 minute by auto-killing the game, which offered more people the chance to try out our game. So if you’re planning to set up your booth, make sure you plan these things ahead of time.
Expensive Demos and Everything Else
From getting VR headsets to supporting gaming hardware, it’s very expensive to own just one working set of VR. For an individual developer, owning one VR set is fine, but for a team, only one person can develop the thing at a time; so this limitation is damaging to the productivity.
Creating a 360-degree demo in VR is more expensive than you would think considering the quantity and quality of hardware needed to get the job done. And without a video demo, you have nothing to showcase your game experience on the internet.
To tackle these challenges I advise developers to work with headset makers like HTC, Samsung or Oculus as this could help them gain access to additional gear. Again, any developer that has some great ideas or work in progress to showcase at nearby VR event can potentially get some manufacturers to provide free or discounted gear. It doesn’t cover everything you need, but it will help cut down on some of the costs.
Regarding the video, it’s time to call up your nerd friends who have played with Green Room or Green Chroma setup. You might not get that perfect finish you envisioned, but these steps will help you get most things right without forcing you to spend large sums of money. Some of the VR game demos look great even in normal 2D view, which you can do simply by recording your screen.
But this choice differs from game to game, hence the need for making a well-informed choice. Note that it’s impossible to make someone understand how it feels to play a VR game, until they experience it personally. So this video has to be on the internet so that interested VR enthusiasts can access it. They may even ignore the quality of the video, so long your game content is interesting.
There are certainly other challenges regarding cost, both for consumers and developers, which are expected to get better with time. Until then, the methods suggested can help to overcome the challenges in marketing your game in VR.
Have you faced some other challenges in marketing your VR game? Tell us about them in the comments section.