Let's talk about subscription services. Viveport turned four recently, and HTC has done well to raise it's small baby into a relatively stable child. The anniversary got me thinking about subscription services; does it have a future in our industry, compared to films or console gaming?
Subscription services are trendy right now. Streaming companies are littering the internet as companies scramble for a bigger slice of their pies. Margins are razor-thin, but Netflix and Disney+ are doing very well. But because of the cost differentials and barriers of entry, comparing films to VR is difficult.
The video games industry is more interesting as a point of comparison. Microsoft acquired ZeniMax Media for $7.5bn, owning properties like Doom, Fallout, and The Elder Scrolls. Commentators rightly pointed out that it's a competitive move against Sony. It is... at least, for the short and medium-term. In the long-run, the move is to help compete against Google and Amazon who are running their own streaming services; since Microsoft owns the IPs, the company controls where the games appear. Microsoft is preparing for a streaming future by becoming the go-to place to play certain games, gaining an edge over the big G and A. By comparison, both Google and Amazon are working hard to make their own exclusive IPs. (It would not surprise me if Activision Blizzard, or a part of it, is sold to either of them in the next three years).
How does this link to VR? I think Viveport has some legs, providing some amazing content for a great price. It's certainly more progressive than Oculus. But the difference is content; the ecosystem lacks the sheer scale and volume of games that would make a subscription service valuble, or the cheap headsets to make it accessible. But as soon as that happens, HTC will be laughing as it moves its fat stacks of cash to the bank.