My low opinion of the film notwithstanding (or perhaps in spite of it), Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s fanboy novel Ready Player One has done reasonably well at the box office—topping $100 million domestically this past weekend. The virtual reality-based dystopian adventure takes viewers through a classic hero’s journey with lots of special effects, more pop culture references than anyone can count in a single viewing, and something that resembles a plot. The VR experience the film portrays certainly enhanced viewers’ expectations of what will be possible as the technology improves.
The VR industry, however, is not seeing the gains in adoption it had hoped for as buzz was building for Ready Player One’s release at the end of March. Big surprise? Not really. As this Financial Times article [paywall] notes, home adoption of VR gear has not been going gangbusters, which isn’t really news. Even with the release this month of the self-contained, sub-$200 Oculus Go, the content’s not there and the market is, apparently, limited to a subset of the fans that have made driven the movie’s limited success.
Companies instead have been pivoting toward location-based strategies, where people play games on-site instead of in their own gear at home. If you look at companies like Nomadic or The Void that have set up in places such as Disneyland, the replication of experiences has been going fairly well—despite the weight of the backpacks players need to carry around.
So, it appears, that our plan at RealityNext to create locations for kids to make and learn, where they share the space with anyone who wants to play the kids’ creations plus other VR content, is the right direction. Especially if they can use VR to collaborate with kids halfway across the world.