HTC’s Vive Studios division acknowledges that it needs to ramp up its work in marketing, especially with more challenging non-gaming apps.
Vive Studios was announced back in 2016 and is similar, though certainly not identical, to the Oculus Studios division at Facebook. The team pledged to do everything from publishing content made with partners to internally developing and releasing its own projects, going beyond gaming and looking at professional and experiential applications too. But, whilst Oculus Studios has launched big projects like Lone Echo and Marvel: Powers United over the past few years, it’s harder to keep track of Vive’s work.
There have been some notable releases, the biggest of which is undoubtedly the Ready Player One: Oasis beta, a virtual hub of sorts that connects you to a handful of minigames. But, broadly speaking, it’s harder to find Studios’ fingerprints across the current VR ecosystem.
To that end, some Vive Studios releases on Steam haven’t even gathered enough user reviews to get aggregate rankings, though many are also sold across platforms like Viveport and Oculus Home. Even Studios Head Joel Breton admits that games like the Vive Studios-published and Square Enix-developed Million Arthur VR didn’t “sell out of the gates”. Speaking to UploadVR, though, Breton said that it’s his first priority to keep VR developers safe regardless of sales.
“So the first thing I want to do with my partners is derisk the project for them and let them try to innovate and create something awesome that will help the market and then obviously help their business too,” Breton reasoned. “So certainly we need to get better at marketing. I’m very proud of the content we make. Everything that we’re making is very highly rated, it’s very well received and certainly we can do a much better job of marketing content and that’s something that I’m very happy to be working on.”
Breton admits that much of the challenge comes from knowing who to market to, especially in the non-gaming scene. “For instance, the TrueScale design application is fantastic for anybody that’s doing design of an interior space like a store or a gymnasium or a fitness center. So it’s amazing for those people but they just don’t know about it. They don’t know that it’s there they don’t know that they can go into VR and then in like 30 minutes do what might take them a couple of hours or at least a day to do on a flat screen.”
One approach Breton says its taken recently is to give some of its apps more of a soft launch, quietly releasing early builds and then updating them with the help of the community to the point that it can market them more confidently. Studios also sees its most recent project, an episodic VR movie retelling Bible stories named 7 Miracles, as an example of an app that it knows directly who to market to.
“But finding the audiences for these non-gaming VR content? That is certainly a challenge right now that’s something that we’re faced with and you know we’re not going to shy away from it we’re going to keep working on it,” he added.
One thing that has struck me over the past few years is just how quiet Vive has been in the conference space, at least in the US. Judging by Vive China President Alvin Graylin’s Twitter account, the company has a huge presence at most Asian VR events but, over in the west, shows like E3 and Gamescom come and go without Vive makings its presence really felt. Even last year’s reveal of the Vive Pro passed on livestreaming to the audience at home. I told Breton I thought this was a key component missing for Vive’s strategy right now.
“I agree,” he said.
“We need to do more of that. On Vive ourselves, we partnered with Valve and they did a fantastic job with Steam Days, so early on, certainly for the first two years, that was our developer conference. Now we’re moving to Focus, Pro is the same thing, it’s still SteamVR, now with Focus it’s our own thing, our own ecosystem for the first time. So absolutely we need to start thinking about those kinds of things and I assure you we are.”
It sounds like we could see a Vive-dedicated event in the near future, then.