The Covid-19 pandemic brought VR gaming a new audience
➨ Kimara Rouwit, director of publishing at Vertigo Games, speaks exclusively to VRWorldTech Magazine in the latest edition
➨ Oculus Quest 2 contributed to a pandemic sales lift as Vertigo released a new version of Arizona Sunshine for the headset
➨ To read the full article, pick up the latest issue of VRWorldTech Magazine
Covid-19 hit almost every market hard in 2020, including location-based entertainment, a mainstay of virtual reality (VR) gaming. But all-in-one headsets such as Oculus Quest 2 proved to be a strong alternative for gamers searching for their next entertainment experience.
Vertigo Games, the multi-platform VR entertainment company with publishing, studio and location-based entertainment divisions, witnessed both of these trends first-hand last year.
Kimara Rouwit, director of publishing at Vertigo, says in the latest edition of VRWorldTech Magazine: “There were huge numbers of people at home waiting for something to entertain them, and then there was this piece of hardware that makes VR accessible and easier to use than it was before.”
Rouwit is referring to Oculus Quest 2, the mobile, all-in-one or ‘standalone’ VR headset that came out in late 2020 for a fiercely competitive $300. Its launch, coupled with Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown restrictions forcing the majority of people to stay at home, pushed VR gaming beyond immersive technology enthusiasts toward a bigger demographic of gamers: “They really went hand-in-hand for VR development and how the market has grown.”
Vertigo saw an increase in sales at this point in 2020, with Rouwit putting the “initial lift” at around 35%, which lasted for a few months.
Oculus Quest 2 played a role in that sales lift as Vertigo had just released a new version of Arizona Sunshine (pictured) for the new headset. Over time, at least 5 to 10% of that increase has stuck around.
But Rouwit adds: “The graph is skewed by VR growing so exponentially as a whole. And in turn that is driven by Covid-19 in part as well, so it is hard to discern what is fuelling growth strongest.”
At the same time, Vertigo has felt the location-based entertainment market’s difficulties as a result of Covid-19. With restrictions in place across much of the world last year, the company’s arcade customers were all but closed.
The company did not see this lasting, however, and in 2020 acquired VR content marketplace SpringboardVR, a big provider of games to location-based entertainment providers around the world, confident that this area of VR gaming would bounce back sooner rather than later.
And bounce back it did. More than 700 customers are signed up to the SpringboardVR service, across 40+ countries. At the time of writing, at least 400 are now open and running, according to Rouwit, after local restrictions in many jurisdictions eased: “We have witnessed a huge surge from 2020’s figures.”
Image: Vertigo Games