Half of Western consumers have no interest in buying VR products (yet), according to a new study by Newzoo.
Virtual reality is the buzz word of the moment, with everyone from Facebook and YouTube to the gaming industry all betting on the future of media being something more immersive and interactive. But consumer take-up is vital to the success of new technology, as the demise of 3-D TV demonstrated. Take-up, meanwhile, relies on several things, from affordability and appeal to awareness in the first place.
Newzoo’s study of VR awareness and buying intention across 16 countries found that across key nations in North America and Europe, an average of 11 per cent of the online population between 10 and 65 are planning to buy VR products in the next six months. Half of Western consumers, though, have no interest in buying VR products (yet), while another 8 per cent are not aware of it at all.
On a country level, Spain scores the highest, with 16 per cent showing interest. In terms of hardware budget, Canada also has the highest share of VR buyers who should be able to afford the high-end products.
VR has one advantage over 3-D, which is the support of the technology from the gaming world, which will help to encourage much wider demand from consumers. Indeed, the highest interest in VR was found among game enthusiasts, although Newzoo predicts that in-game and real-life spectator formats, such as sports, will draw most time and money of VR consumers. VR’s reach into all forms of entertainment, including music and sports, will increase dramatically as it becomes more mainstream and affordable.
Audiences in the Netherlands and Belgium are most skeptical of the new technology, found Newzoo. 7 per cent of this group, or 4.4 million people, are non-gamers. On average, men make up the majority (68 per cent) of those who intend to buy VR. In Belgium, this percentage stretches to 85 per cent, with the share of males lowest in Italy at 64 per cent. Interestingly, for developers of VR software and hardware, 80 per cent of gamers who intend to buy VR play on all platforms (PC, Console and Mobile).
“When creating a rollout strategy and realistic expectation for VR product sales, it’s important to not only examine which gamers have the highest intention to buy, but also who has the budget to match your offering,” notes the report. “Just 18 per cent of the Western gamers that intend to buy VR have spent more than $600 on gaming hardware in the past 12 months. This varies strongly per country.”
Though interest in VR is highest in Spain, for example, the money they invest in gaming hardware is much lower.
Peter Warman, CEO Newzoo comments on VR: “At Newzoo, we have been relatively silent when it comes to VR. This has to do with our expectation that the lion’s share of VR revenues will be generated by hardware sales, spectator content, and live viewing formats. Game software revenues from VR will remain marginal for the near future and be absorbed into current PC, TV/console and mobile game revenues. We will leave guestimates on the future size of the total VR market in revenues to the experts in hardware and (online) retail sales. We are specialists in game revenues and gamer behavior. Hence our effort is to research and report on VR from a consumer perspective because ultimately, in the long term, VR and AR will change how consumers communicate and interact with content.”