VR is struggling with an adoption problem. In 2017, TechCrunch even went as far as declaring VR dead, reporting sluggish headset sales. While this may be a little harsh, it’s true that VR adoption isn’t moving at the pace some had hoped.
In September last year, Mark Zuckerberg cautioned patience to Facebook investors waiting for a return on the company’s 2014 $3 billion investment in Oculus Rift. Some sources have pointed to a lack of content as being the main blocker to mainstream adoption. Quite logically, they point out that consumers won’t invest in headsets if there isn’t enough compelling content for them to justify it.
The technology offers tremendous opportunities in other areas including entertainment, e-commerce, education, and culture. However, Statista reports that VR gaming accounted for more than a third of the overall VR market last year, making it one of the most apparent use cases for consumers.
Therefore, it’s worth noting that one of the biggest headset manufacturers, Oculus, is now owned by Facebook, a social media company. HTC is another but has its background in consumer electronics like smartphones. Neither company has its roots in gaming.
Now, several established leaders from the gaming sector are stepping up to the plate. They’re pushing the content and means for VR to achieve the mainstream adoption its investors and supporters so desire. What’s more, they believe that blockchain is the pivot on which VR can be leveraged into the mainstream.
From Second Life to High Fidelity
Second Life bills itself not as a game but a virtual online world. Initially released in 2003, the site had more than a million regular active users by 2013. The company behind Second Life is Linden Labs, formerly led by Philip Rosedale.
Rosedale is now working on another project, a blockchain-based virtual reality world called High Fidelity. Powered by the EOS blockchain, the project raised $70 million in three rounds of funding between 2013 and 2016. High Fidelity is a kind of VR version of Second Life, a “social virtual reality” consisting of different domains where users can interact and purchase digital assets stored on the EOS blockchain.
High Fidelity is already open to users with Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headsets.
From BeachHead 2000 to BeachHead 2020
Whereas Second Life and High Fidelity aim to create a universe without specific gameplay objectives, BeachHead 2020 is just the opposite. It’s an entire virtual world, comprising e-commerce, entertainment and gameplay objectives. The premise is that BeachHead city, where users live, play, shop and interact, is also under attack from enemy forces. If users wish, they can engage with the gameplay by defending the city and earning digital currency to do so.
The creator of BeachHead 2020 is Pepe Moreno. Moreno developed the original version, BeachHead 2000, back in 1999, which served as the inspiration for the VR version. BeachHead 2000 was an arcade-style first-person shooter game. It gained a cult following across the world, with more than one million copies sold. Both the original version and the updated VR version involve holding back enemy fire using heavy artillery such as anti-aircraft guns.
Alongside the gameplay, users can simply “exist” in the BeachHead city. The creators are already planning various partnerships, for example with the Valencia Opera House. Users can buy tickets for their favorite shows using digital currency, attending the show in VR from the comfort of their own home.
BeachHead 2020 will be of particular interest to blockchain techies because of its dual blockchain construction. It has one layer based on Ethereum, which provides the native BHT token, and allows the creation of non-fungible assets for trading in the VR universe. However, BeachHead also incorporates a Ripple layer, which facilitates in-world trading between users, enabling fast settlements and a trade matching engine.
From Videroo to Ceek
Ceek is an established VR headset manufacturer that started out into blockchain during 2018. The company is firmly aimed at the entertainment consumer market, with a low price headset and the ability to stream VR content using only a smartphone app. The token launch seeks to create an “entertainment meta-verse” where users can buy tickets to see their favorite musical acts and sports teams in VR arenas, using blockchain-based digital currency.
Ceek has already established partnerships with big-name musicians including Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. On the sports side, the company announced a brand ambassadorship last year with Real Madrid defender Dani Carvajal.
Although not a VR gaming company, Ceek’s CEO and Co-founder is Mary Spio. Spio has a stellar career history, starting in the military and arriving at Ceek after founding Vidaroo, an online and mobile video gaming platform with clients including Microsoft Xbox.
Mainstream adoption is the goal of any new technology. Particularly for VR, struggling as it has been, creating compelling content on devices that deliver a high-quality experience should now be a top priority. These industry leaders seem to have grasped the scale of the challenge and are bringing forward blockchain-based solutions that could achieve the adoption goals. With the right expertise, a robust token economy and some big-name tie-ins, 2019 could be the year of VR.