When distributing 360 video and Virtual Reality content, being familiar with the available platforms will help you reach your intended audience. In this post, Foundry 45 breaks down the available VR platforms according to their accessibility and level of immersion. Generally, the more expensive platforms are more immersive, but less accessible. Consequently, a trade off exists in that the more accessible a platform is, the less immersive it is. This summary will help you decide which distributing method will work for you! Also keep in mind that a combination of these distribution channels can be used in order to maximize the marketing potential of a VR experience!
For an introduction, watch this short video of our Managing Partner and Co-Founder Dave Beck discussing the benefits of creating a branded VR experience and how to decide on your distribution channel!
Least Immersive and Most Accessible: 360 Degree Video for YouTube & Facebook
Uploading your 360 video to YouTube or Facebook will allow for the widest distribution of your content. As of March 2017, there have been over a million 360 videos posted to Facebook and between Facebook and Youtube, 360 videos have amassed over a billion views! These platforms allow you to share your 360 content instantly with friends and potential consumers by letting them access it with their phones or desktop computers. On a smart phone, being able to physically rotate your device to discover different parts of the experience allows hands-on engagement from any user.
Don’t waste anytime and view our Adult Swim behind-the-scenes 360 footage on Adult Swim’s Facebook page!
More Immersive but Slightly Less Accessible: Google Cardboard
Smartphone users can increase their level of immersion by taking advantage of a Google Cardboard mobile headset created for both iPhone and Android devices. The tool blocks off your peripheral vision and holds your phone in place as you undergo the experience. According to Google’s Blog on Feb. 28, 2017, there have been “more than 10 million Cardboard viewers shipped worldwide,” and “there have been 160 million downloads of Cardboard apps on Google Play—and 30 of those apps have more than 1 million downloads.” However, not everyone owns a Cardboard headset, so many groups like to provide it for viewers to experience their content. Providing a branded cardboard headset at an activation event is a fantastic way to make sure people remember your experience!
360 Videos posted on YouTube are cardboard compatible, but users can also download cardboard apps from the Play Store or iTunes Marketplace. Most professional Virtual Reality applications available for download will be Cardboard compatible.
Moderately Immersive and Accessible: Mobile VR Headsets — Samsung Gear VR / Google Daydream
Progressing to deeper immersion, we now arrive at the Gear VR and Google Daydream headsets which enhance Virtual Reality experiences. Both headsets further the sensation that you are in a different environment, and also allow for more interactivity and user control throughout the experience. These VR headsets can access over 500 apps including games and official company experiences. According to market estimates, there will be over 10 million Samsung Gear VRs and 2.5 million Daydreams in the wild by 2018.
The enhanced immersion provided by these headsets comes at a cost which affects their accessibility. The cost to purchase these full systems (both headset and the smartphone that serves as the screen and the processor) is in the $700 range, which makes the audience size smaller for these platforms. Also, the Gear VR headset is only compatible with Samsung Galaxy devices and the Google Daydream is only compatible with Google Phones. Sorry, iPhone peeps!
If you don’t have one, please reach out to us for a demo or feel free to test out these headsets at a local VR tech meet-up. Feel free to check out our other blog posts about the amazing Samsung Gear VR headset as well!
Most Immersive and Least Accessible: Room-Scale VR — HTC Vive and Oculus Rift
These top-end platforms for Virtual Reality are some of the most immersive digital mediums in human history! Scientists and philosophers thought this type of technology was only fantasy a few centuries ago.
Both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift create full room-scale experiences that cannot be replicated with other products. The level of immersion blows the other platforms out of the water as you’re able to walk, explore, move objects, and build within their experiences. The responsive environments and elaborate tasks you can complete can entrance any user. Both platforms feature a headset and controllers wired to a computer that enable the user to interact with the experience. At the end of 2016, the Oculus Rift had sold 240,000 units and the HTC Vive had sold 420,000 units, and currently the combined sales of these two products is estimated to be just over a million.
Check out this awesome demonstration from Valve about the capabilities of the HTC Vive!
Obviously this cutting edge technology doesn’t come cheap as both the Vive and Rift have a price tag that hovers around $1500 for the VR systems and a high powered computer to run them. As technology grows, these products should become more friendly to a mainstream budget, but for the time being, these products will mostly being owned by hardcore VR enthusiasts. Odds are if you want to develop an experience that uses these platforms, you need to have your own system ready for others to use! We would highly recommend these types of experiences for face to face interactions as people will quite literally line up for their turn with your experience.
In regards to the variety of platforms that VR can be published to, there seems to be an inverse relationship between accessibility and immersion. The more accessible a platform is, the less immersive it is and vice versa. The more a product costs, the more immersive it will be, but the less people will be able to use it. When choosing what platform to develop your VR content for, determining the size and preferred platform of your target audience is crucial for the success of your content. The most accessible platforms are 360 videos on social media and the most immersive are the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
ABOUT FOUNDRY 45
Foundry 45 is the business VR leader. We create immersive Virtual Reality (VR) experiences for room scale (HTC Vive and Oculus Rift) and mobile VR platforms (Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream, and Cardboard for iOS and Android). Foundry 45 helps businesses step into their brand story by using dynamic 360 video and VR app creation. Our marketing and recruiting approach captures customer experience desires and emphasizes product value. We also partner with existing video production studios, advertising agencies, and other content creators to serve as their VR technical consultants and developer shop.