Thursday, July 11, 2019

July 11th 2019 - Bringing your VR title to Market - Event by The Cube Vancouver


Just attended an event about bringing your VR title to market. It was a fun event and met some interesting people. Quite a few of the people I met were actually just interested in learning more about how to get into the VR industry. Nice to meet fellow VR noobs.

The format for the event was a panel of people who have launched VR titles interviewed by a moderator. I didn't capture everything that was spoken by the panelists but below are the notes and main points I took away from the event:

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People who were part of the panel 

Metanaut
Peter Kao - CEO/Developer

Cloudhead Games 
Jo Dunlop - Business Development and Communications

Archiact
Ken Thain  - Senior Producer

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What was your biggest challenge bringing your title to market ?

Jo - Could have used more time to polish the games and would have liked to have been able to play test everything more in depth. 

Peter - The biggest challenge was managing the scope of the game and determining when it was "finished" and ready for launch. An example challenge of VR was the virtual user interface. Most games have menu screens which you have to page through for information because of the limited screen space. However, in a virtual environment your screen space is much larger so users don't like the mechanic of having to click forward to navigate a menu screen.

A good question that was brought up by the moderator was what aspect of their game differentiated them from others. What mechanic within the game had to be amazing. Peter said that it was the touch/physicality mechanic of picking up and interacting with the virtual objects. A simple but very complex mechanic

Ken - Before launch one of the issues he was concerned about was the quality expectation from VR gamers. What he found was that the current climate of the VR market is that they are just happy to receive good quality content. Reception for their game was overall positive. 

How did you go about finding funding for your game and did you do anything different ?

Jo - They seeked funding through a variety of different ways. From Angel investing to family & friends and revenue sharing. Brought up that you could also get project funding from Sony and Occulus who are pretty open. Valve provides a bit of funding but it seems they are more focused on Enterprises.

Peter - Funded their game through client work and some grants that they've applied for. They have been careful about the grants they apply for because they don't want to create unnecessary work that detracts from what they want to focus on. 

Ken - Looking at putting their games into location based VR arcades. Evaluating Spring board VR who provide that type of content for VR arcades.

Are you finding it challenging to hire or retain qualified staff ?

Jo - Hiring has not been a huge issue for them. However since their main office is on Vancouver Island it can be a bit difficult to hire quickly. However, retaining talent hasn't been a concern. In fact they found that the lifestyle and location on the island provides for a more relaxed work environment which has helped them attract some senior talent. 

Peter - Their work environment is different at Metanaut where they don't focus on working at a physical office. The team operates remotely with once a week meetings to catch up and plan. Rely on slack, video calls and etc to maintain work communications. This has allowed them to easily work with quality talent. 

Ken - They haven't been finding it very difficult to hire. However it was brought up that most people who apply do not have a ton of experience with VR. 

Moderator brought up that the industry is still new and that no one can really claim to be an expert. It doesn't take a lot of time for people to catch up to those who've been working in the industry for three years,.

What are your thoughts on marketing your title and creating awareness 

Jo - Spending money on advertising isn't the best. Discord is a great tool for chatting and interacting with people interested in your game and is worth the time investment. 

Peter - Supporting Jo's comment about community engagement, Peter highly recommends posting and sharing your game on VR Reddit forums. Found that when they shared their work on Reddit that it generated a ton of publicity and interest. 

Ken - Let's play YouTube channels were a huge marketing boost for them. Sales would spike when they did showcased their games.

Misc notes and panelist thoughts on VR

  • Ken feels like the Oculus Quest could see big adoption during Christmas. Hopeful for the future of VR at the moment.
  • Peter mentioned that producers are still not creating games based on VR research. Users of VR are more likely to play VR in short 10 - 15 minute duration at a time. Need to keep that in mind when designing your VR experience.
  • Jo mentioned that you have to keep in mind that you can't make your VR game too niche. The market isn't super big and it will be difficult if you make your game a niche within the VR niche.


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