Study Shows Generation Z Loves VR, But Games Might Not be the First Thing on Their Minds

by Will Mason • November 23rd, 2015

It’s an interaction I seem to have on a weekly basis, “Virtual reality, that’s that new gaming thing, right?” And I explain that yes, gaming is one of the many things that you can do in VR, but that there is so much more to it than that. In fact, according to a recent study by Greenlight VR and Touchstone Research, gaming might not even be the first thing that draws people into VR, it might be entertainment – which spells good things for mobile VR.

According to the study, 66% of people expressed interest in “watching TV, movies and video” in VR, compared to 60% who reported interest in games, suggesting that there may be a stronger overall interest for immersive video than games at this early juncture.

These numbers are significant in the wake of the Gear VR’s launch as the device is tailor-made to enjoy content like immersive video. One of the current flaws with the Gear VR that enthusiasts will point to is its lack of positional tracking, the ability to lean in and around objects in virtual space, something that the current crop of wired VR headsets have. For immersive video, positional tracking is a non-issue (for now) making the ideal form of content for mobile VR. With games on the other hand, things like lack of positional tracking to lack of proper hand tracked input, and even mobile processing power become much more apparent. Comparing the two, it seems that despite a number of solid titles at launch immersive entertainment content appears to be the lead for mobile VR.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would probably agree. At Oculus Connect this year, he said that he believes that VR “next major computing and communication platform” and that immersive 360 video is the next logical evolution from video. Looking at Generation Z, those born in the late 90’s/early 00’s, they have never known a world that isn’t digitally interconnected. Many have grown up and never known a time where we weren’t sharing moments and experiencing other people’s lives vicariously through social media. It only makes sense that the next logical evolution of that is immersive media.

Interestingly, Generation Z reported the strongest interest in VR out of all the age groups polled. Furthermore, Generation Z expressed 9% stronger interest in new forms of “interactive entertainment” over Millennials and 21% stronger interest over Baby Boomers.

Virtual reality is for everyone but like mobile before it, the direction it takes will likely be in service of the current generation and the generation beyond it.

See more findings from the Greenlight report in the infographic below.