How Will Marketers Employ Virtual Reality?

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Virtual reality is starting to become a reality for consumers, with Sony, Facebook and HTC selling virtual reality headsets. Most associate virtual reality with gaming, however some current experiments suggest that gaming won't be the first big content play for VR. And just when will marketers be able to use VR to deliver brand messages? That remains to be seen.

The world's best video game makers, Activision Blizzard, EA , and Ubisoft -- independent publishers that unlike Sony make only games instead of consoles and games -- aren't rushing into to the space. They're waiting for a critical mass of users to buy headsets, and for the technology to improve and eliminate the pesky problem of motion sickness. Few expect virtual reality to become a real business for the major videogame studios for several years.

The games makers need to be careful not to stay on the sidelines too long. They risk falling behind the start-ups who are diving in now as well as Facebook and Sony, who are bankrolling developers of virtual reality games to seed the market for their headsets.

Walt Disney and European pay-TV company Sky are playing around with adapting their content to the format. And Viceland is creating virtual reality content for Samsung as part of a larger ad deal that will make some of its primetime programming commercial-free. The two are co-producing a documentary series that will follow VR creators as they tackle various projects in the medium. These documentaries will air adjacent to several Viceland series in primetime in lieu of a traditional commercial break.

For the traditional games makers, the key will be developing a niche for premium games where they can still profit. For now, Ubisoft and EA are hedging their bets. Both said this week that they'd make a game each this year for Sony's headset -- without detailing pricing. Ubisoft showed off its "Eagle Flight" game in which players fly over a deserted Paris cityscape. The company assigned just 10 developers to it, compared with the hundreds that it takes to build a traditional game like "Assassin's Creed."

If you are looking for a partner to help you think through your strategy to employ elements of virtual reality into your marketing, turn to Look Book.

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