Virtual reality startup WEVR thinks it’s time to set a price for premium virtual reality content. The company announced the launch of a new premium subscription service for cinematic virtual reality Wednesday — a first for an industry that has thus far shied away from asking its small but growing audience to pay up for most non-gaming titles.
WEVR is launching its subscription service as a premium tier of its Transport app, which is already available for HTC Vive and Samsung Gear VR headsets. Vive users will have to pay $20 a year to access premium content like Jon Favreau’s “Gnomes and Goblins” as well as Deepak Chopra’s “Finding Your True Self,” whereas Gear VR users are charged $8 a year for content that also works on mobile headsets.
Co-founder Anthony Blatt told Variety that WEVR didn’t expect subscriptions to become a huge business overnight. “There is no hubris here at the company,” he said. Instead, he painted the move towards subscriptions as a way to find the right price point for premium VR titles.
“A lot of our content is not games,” he said, which is why it didn’t make much sense to charge for individual titles the same way as VR gaming companies do on platforms like Steam. Users would also approach these stores with certain expectations, and cinematic VR content tended to get lost between gaming titles. “It’s like vegetarian food at a meat store,” he quipped.
That being said, WEVR isn’t ruling out collaborations with other platforms, and may also make some of its premium content available on Google Play or other platforms. Potential windowing plans are still being worked out, said Batt.
WEVR’s subscription service is available worldwide at launch; the company will also continue to make some of its content available for free on Transport. WEVR is currently working on a PlayStation VR client, and wants to launch on Google’s Daydream VR platform down the line as well.