Competition Increases within VR industry in Asia

Published 22 February 2018, 09:54

Imagine this: You are the only male student at a female university and the most sought after among around 100 female students who look like models. You are free to choose to date anyone you want. If you play your card correctly, you will not only get a perfect date. You might even be able to share an intimate night with the girl of your dreams.

What sounds like heaven to many men is the plot of "Crush Academy," a virtual reality (VR) game developed by the Hong Kong company Go VR Immersive. Starring the actual models and actresses and being shot on location, the VR game was the company's next ambitious step after the production of "Infernal Affairs", a series of mini VR with Media Asia and iQiyi adapted from the iconic Hong Kong crime thriller of 2003 of the same title.

"The plot is similar to some of the available dating games on the market, but we will star in real actresses and shoot actual locations rather than computer-generated visuals. This is an immersive interactive drama that targets pan-Asian audiences," Howard Tian said, wrong one founder of Go VR Immersive, who is still in the process of raising funds for VR games.

Go VR Immersive is not the only one who has high hopes for the future of VR in Asia. Content developers in Asia place their bets on VR as a source of entertainment for the next generation. Companies throughout the Asia Pacific are competing to develop content that will delight young consumers who are looking for experiences outside of one dimension, traditional cinema stories.

Industry forecasting believes that the growth of the VR market in Asia, especially in China, will be unprecedented. Last year's IDC market research company estimates that by 2020, global revenues for VR and augmented reality will reach $ 162 billion, compared with $ 5.2 billion in 2016.

A study published by the China Electronics Standardization Institute and Xinhua News Agency estimated that China's VR market was worth only $ 725 million (RMB5 billion) in 2016, mostly generated from 5,000 VR experience shops in China at the end of September 2016. IDC estimated that the market VR in China will grow by more than 400% in 2017.

While global technology leaders such as Google and Apple can lead the race, they are followed by Asian hardware players HTC, Samsung Electronics and Sony. Chinese companies such as Huawei, LeEco and Xiaomi are also in pursuit.

"Content is not enough," said Sophie Chui, director of the Hong Kong Kaleidoscope VR community, which recently held the first VR festival in Hong Kong at the end of April. "Many people don't understand the nature of VR. It's not just 360-degree video. VR involves different types of stories. This creates an environment that can interact with the audience."

The "Infernal Affairs" VR series is a four-episode VR series that is online on the iQIYI streaming video platform in China. Since December, one episode has collected more than 430 million views. The final episode was released at the end of April.

Sony PlayStation, which has sold 915,000 pieces of PlayStation VR worldwide in mid-February, also involved mainland Chinese content developers to produce VR games through its Chinese Hero Project. Shanghai Oriental Oriental Culture Development has produced two PlayStation VR games. Sony PlayStation is expected to explore the development of entertainment content with Hong Kong companies in the future.

VR trends are also developing in South Korea. At present there are several companies that specialize in the production of VR content, including music videos and short films. Among them, Verest will develop content that leads to the global market, while Mooovr develops VR content for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Developer of Australian VR content, Brett Heil founded The Pulse in Hong Kong in 2015, by observing the potential of the Chinese market. He said demand for content exceeded supply in Asia but finding investors to produce VR content remained a challenge.

"While investors are looking for evidence of proven returns on premium titles, we will see independent studios like our company developing through partnerships. Once the market is proven we will see a large studio in," Heil said.

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