The fate of AltspaceVR isn’t a monetisation problem or a company problem. It’s part of the global VR adoption problem. The number of users with headsets just isn’t there yet – no social company can survive with 35k monthly users. We need larger adoption and for that to happen, we need less barriers to entry and simplify access to a way-too-complex medium.
VR doesn’t have a value problem. Stereoscopic videos provide a better experience than normal videos. Drawing with Tilt Brush is infinitely more fun than on Photoshop. Gaming in VR is way more immersive than on console. One could argue that Altspace is a better social experience than Facebook.
The value is there. But the incremental value doesn’t make up for the huge barriers to entry to get started.
Get educated about VR. Buy a headset. Setup the headset. Find the relevant apps, pay for them, download them. Setup your room scale.
Until now, friction > value (left part of the graph).
- blue: friction – going down as technology improves
- orange: value – going up as apps, ecosystem improves
There is just too much friction, something than mobile has almost gotten rid of. Yes – everybody who tried VR says it is fun, extraordinary, the future. But day to day, in a world of decreasing attention spans, VR is asking for too much of our time, too much undivided attention, and not giving enough in return.
I do believe that VR is the future of home entertainment, including content, gaming, e-commerce and social networks. But to get there, the whole value-chain needs to be drastically simplified.
We need value > friction to create a market adoption shift.
- Hardware. We need a consumer focused company to come up with an easy to use device, that doesn’t require much education to get started.
- Advertising. To reach mass adoption, headsets needs to be marketed beyond geeky/gamers types. It should be advertised as a cool wearable for home entertainment.
As friction decreases, we will be more likely to put our headset on to watch a 2 minutes video, play a quick game, or login to our social network to say hi to a friend. It won’t seem like such a huge effort anymore. As a result, I believe that the content isn’t the problem. It will continue to grow, and as friction decreases, won’t be a hassle to consume anymore.
VR doesn’t have a value problem – it has a friction problem. It will continue to decimate companies in the space until the adoption shift happens. As bullish as I am about VR in the long term, I realistically can’t predict the shift to occur less than 2 years from now.