Let's imagine, a horde of flesh eating zombies chasing you, or you and your friends are the last survivors on earth and are working together to save humanity! What is happening! Your heart is pumping, nerves are racing and the slightest mistake can cost you your life! But you finally run away, save humanity and you are safe outside the “VR arena” with your friends!!!
This is the power of VR, “This moment you are living in your own world and the next minute you are lost in the VR world. You know you are just visiting but your mind is convinced otherwise. One moment is all it takes to be consumed in a world that will blow your mind forever.”
However, despite the potential that VR has, the pace of growth for VR has been lackluster since its invention in the 1960s. According to reports, it was predicted to be mainstream by 1994 but it never really took off then. However, the growth in VR gaming in 2019 was spectacular at 25% to $12 and going ahead, it is expected to grow at 30% from 2020 to 2027.
Having said that, I believe the reasons for upcoming growth in Virtual Reality Gaming in the Indian market making it the mainstream is being driven by:
Market conditions and growth of gaming
With the pandemic hitting the country in 2020 and the absence of other entertainment options, there has been a paradigm shift in the audience gravitating towards online gaming platforms. The current gaming industry in India is estimated at $1.5 billion (2020) and is expected to reach $2.8 billion by 2022 itself. Apart from the addition of 45-50 million online gaming subscribers due to Covid-19, the growth is also fuelled by the increasing penetration of smartphones, widening gaming demographic (from kids to adults and older generation) and a remarkable contribution from the female gamers (casual and hardcore).
Growth of technology
Given that we are in the fourth industrial revolution where technology is the king, I think futuristic technology and experiences are set to revolutionize gaming forever. These experiences already exist in the US, Europe and SE Asia and now need to come to India too. Next-generation gaming involves Virtual Reality which can be very immersive. These experiences are lifelike where players play in a social environment (involving motion capture technology and proximity sensors) giving them the thrill and fun to enjoy with their family and friends.
Advancement in VR tech
Overcoming the drawbacks of traditional VR which restricted the VR experience to be stationary, isolating and expensive, the onset of the “Free Roam VR” experience is driving the launch of VR arcades. This is attracting the gamers and the target demographic who are largely concerned about having the best experience in a social environment at the most affordable price. Further, the active and immersive experience that these arcades provide forces the gamers to keep coming back.
(Donning room in Zero Latency)
Growing VR ecosystem
With some of the largest industry players like Sony, HP, Google and Facebook already betting high on the VR industry and Apple on its way to enter the space, we definately know that a favourable ecosystem to capture and support the potential of VR is underway. This will further expand the market for VR from gaming to education and other sectors.
Increasing VR content by marquee gaming companies
If we still have any doubt, we can trust the largest gaming developers across the globe who have tremendous data and research to evaluate the scope and growth of VR gaming. Hence, they are all expanding their focus to develop more and more VR games and are tying up with the VR companies to make it compatible with their hardware and software. For eg.- Ubisoft, one of the largest developers, has launched the VR version of its well-known video game “Far Cry” in VR in partnership with Zero Latency, Australia (the largest Free Roam VR company).
Rise of Experience economy
Indians, particularly the millennials and Gen-Z who are driven by the YOLO culture and are thereby more attracted to premium experiences vs products. They are keen to enjoy a heart-pounding, life-like experience in a simulated setup along with their friends and feel the adrenaline rush vs play alone on devices or VR headsets at home. Hence, VR experiences and arcades which fill in the gap are witnessing great popularity in the metro cities and it is only a matter of time that penetration across the country will aid its robust growth.
Further, according to research, Asia Pacific dominates the global VR gaming market with a 40% share of global revenue and is expected to do so for the next 5-7 years. Within this region, South Korea and India are expected to witness remarkable demand for VR games driven further by the higher disposable income of these countries and technological advancements in the gaming and entertainment industry.
Hence, with the building up of a favorable ecosystem, robust growth in gaming and evolving VR technology and demographics of the country, I believe that the growth of VR in gaming is certain. Though it took a while to kick off from its initial launch but with the support from here on, VR in gaming will become the mainstream in the Indian gaming market before we know it!
So the next time you are thinking about travelling to an imaginary world or transforming into a hero to save humanity, think of VR; because as Spielberg says, “It’s a place where the limits of reality are your own imagination. You can do anything, go anywhere”.
(The writer is the founder of Zero Latency)