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How to Keep the Wow Factor in VR


Meenakshi Ramasubramanian, Sr. Research Analyst, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)
Research from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) shows that as VR enters the mass market, it is encountering a more diverse group of consumers who may be skeptical, indifferent or sometimes unaware of what VR can do.

In recent years, you’ve heard about that instantaneous smile forming when consumers try virtual reality (VR) for the first time. So as more and more consumers first experience the wonder of VR, how can the industry respond to keep the wow factor in VR?

At this nascent stage, the VR industry should be excited that mass market consumers are recognizing and trying the technology. Early on, many consumers who greeted VR with a smile were tech-savvy gamers who saw VR as an upgrade to their suite of hi-tech gaming devices. They were expecting this technology and ready to try it out and appreciate the new capabilities that VR brought. These early adopters may have felt like proud parents watching their child graduating with honors and leave home for bigger opportunities — they seemed to cheer and smile at every new VR success over the years.

Research from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) shows that as VR enters the mass market, it is encountering a more diverse group of consumers who may be skeptical, indifferent or sometimes unaware of what VR can do. Many of these mass market consumers are self-conscious of being seen experiencing VR in public and view interactive content as a gaming experience that’s different from their expectation of an immersive experience. They expect VR to virtually transport them to another real world, such as an adventurous activity (scuba diving, bungee jumping, etc.), but the content may not be realistic enough to meet their expectations. Often consumers are still learning to interact in VR environments, which can make their VR experience suboptimal. Just like in everyday life, the first impression — in this case, the VR experience — can make or break the potential of a relationship.

Making a good first impression requires a high-quality VR headset and good-quality content. The industry should continue to look for common grounds of interest and be where mass market consumers can find VR technology. The VR industry can demonstrate how well it knows its consumer (early adopters) by leveraging content that is advanced not only in terms of VR capabilities but also in terms of gaming capabilities.

The early adopters understand that interactivity is part of an immersive experience and expect the game itself to be challenging, with powerful plots and strong characters. In addition, simplifying the search for content by curating it according to consumer interest and capabilities will go a long way in sustaining interest among early adopters.

VR may earn plenty of dedicated consumers who will be lifelong fans, others who will enjoy the technology from time to time and even some who try VR only once. The VR industry should aim to provide mass market consumers with multiple avenues to experience VR and begin to learn and appreciate for themselves all that VR has to offer.

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