Mobile is a significant growth sector for the gaming industry and many are expecting VR to be the next big thing for the industry. In Next-Gen: VR & AR track, Casual Connect USA will explore the what game makers are doing to make the sector take off and what investors want it to succeed.
VR’s Rapid Growth
While there’s a lot of excitement surrounding augmented reality and virtual reality, there’s also a lot of confusion as well. The potential for VR is huge while AR might be even larger over the long term, right now there are more questions than there are answers. Looking at the full breadth of the industry, Tim Merel, founder/CEO of Eyetouch Reality and Digi-Capital, will look at AR/VR revenue forecasts, sectors, business models, investment, core tech, pricing and users. The session titled “The Reality of AR/VR” will look extensively at the facts and figures of AR/VR.
With platforms like Vive, Oculus, PlayStation VR and Samsung Gear VR, consumer VR has definitely arrived. However, it can be a challenge for developers to make sense of these myriad platforms and decided which to target. Game developer Edward McNeill will talk about the differences between these various VR platforms, talking from the experience of someone who has already launched to VR titles in “How to Pick a VR Platform”.
While VR has seen a surge in interest and new devices, it’s been around in various forms for decades. Still, VR is still hugely experimental and there are still many questions surrounding distribution development and more. Clive Downie, Chief Marketing Officer for Unity, will talk about what VR needs to do to keep growing, whether developers can use VR to its fullest potential and what experiences will end up winning in “The Long Game: It’s Not Prime Time for VR… Yet”.
Reaching Out for the Mainstream
VR is still a nascent technology when it comes to the mainstream, and it will take a broad platform to help it take off. Google Play has already reached a critical mass of consumers and is now shifting its attention to the VR space. Jamil Moledina, Games Strategic Lead for Google Play, will talk about using its store management approach to program the launch portfolio of games for Daydream. They’ll discuss the ambition on making VR more than a novelty in “VR For Everyone: Daydream and Google Play Games”.
Along with mobile VR like Google Daydream, there’s also been a move towards VR with motion control and room scale tracking, especially the HTC Vive. However, the cost and space required for such a device is outside of the means of most households. Jikhan Jung, CEO of COLOPL NI, sees VR Internet Cafes and VR Arcades springing up much as the same as Internet Cafes became popular in Asia over a decade ago in their session “Location Based VR: VR Internet Cafe & VR Arcade”.
HTC has made one of the highest quality headsets around for VR with the Vive, creating unique opportunities in the space. Joel Breton, Vice President of VR Content for HTC Vive, will talk about the company’s ambitions in the game space in “What Content Works for VR?”. Interviewed by Jeff Hilbert, CEO of Starting Point, they’ll talk about what they’ve learned from the games they’ve made so far and what HTC is looking to do for the platform going forward.
Whether working on an affordable mobile VR project or something with the most expensive rig around, there will still probably need to be investors to fund it. The panel “The VR Investment Landscape Today” will deal with what investors should consider and what those looking for investors should do. Marco DeMiroz, Co-Founder and General Partner of The Venture Reality Fund, Gavin Teo, Partner at B Capital Group, Teppei Tsutsui, Managing Director for GREE VR Capital and Rikard Steiber, SVP Virtual Reality for HTC Vive will talk about what companies they think are a good investment and give insights on how to optimize investor/founder relationships.
New Technologies Developing along VR/AR
Visual technologies like VR and AR are on the rise and audio will sometimes be ignored for its importance. Seth Schachner, Managing Director for Strat Americas, will talk about how 3D audio is vital in “3D Audio & VR – The Missing Link?”. They will argue that 3D audio is the missing piece to VR experiences and touch on digital music as well.
Using both audio and visuals, VR has the fidelity now to be able to replicate something resembling real life. Creating characters that players can relate to is also important for having a truly immersive experience. Tom Sanocki, CEO and Co-Founder of VR Limitless, will talk about how the future of VR in entertainment and other fields is interactive VR characters that respond to voice, gestures and other human social cues in “Interactive Virtual Reality Characters”.
As evidenced by attempts at VR characters, the VR space is leading to new creations beyond just games, and there are plenty of titles that are highly experimental. Laralyn McWilliams, Chief Creative Officer of Skydance Interactive, Tadhg Kelly, Game Design Writer and Director of Developer Relations for VREAL, and Paul Bettner, Founder and CEO of PLAYFUL CORP. will talk about new genres and gameplay only possible in VR in “Game Design for Virtual Reality”.
Whether your VR experience is dedicated to games, experiences or interactive characters, it requires quite a bit of computer horsepower to run. Indeed, whether it’s on a mobile device or a high-end PC, nearly all new hardware chipsets run multi-core architectures. Using these multi-core hardware devices is by software is key for rich content development and Sinjin Bain, CEO of MaxPlay, will talk about the power of a fully multi-core enabled runtime engine compared to functionally multi-threaded runtime engines. The session “Multi-Core Architecture Runtime for Maximum VR & AR” will also talk about open architecture approaches for content development and LiveOps.
Learning Lessons in the Space
VR presents unique challenges to developers, having to account for how camera movement, speed and frame rate can have a huge effect on player experience. Guy Bendov, CEO of Side-Kick Games, will talk about the lessons they’ve learned in adapting mobile games across all current VR headsets in the session “The Top 10 Lessons We Learned Moving Our Mobile Game to VR”.
Mobile games are very appealing for a lot of developers, with a lower barrier to entry compared to games designed for PC or consoles. Andrew Goldstein,Co-Founder and Executive Producer of Otherworld VR and developer Edward McNeill will talk about making mobile VR titles and hash out the positives and negatives in “Developing for Mobile VR – Challenges, Opportunities and Battle Scars”. With so few VR titles that have released so far, their insight for other VR devs still working on their titles is invaluable.
Mobile will potentially bring VR to the mainstream, and that’s something Hollywood is intensely interested in. A panel including Brett Leonard, Co-Founder and Director of Virtuosity Entertainment, Pete Blumel, CEO of The Rogue Initiative and Becky Ann Hughes, GM of GluPlay Studio will discuss uniting Hollywood, 360 Spherical Video, VR experiences, VR Interactive and Episodic Content together. In “Hollywood and Virtual Reality – How We Can Work Together” they’ll talk about how VR works for narrative and also delve into funding and investing strategies.
Reaching out to AI and Others in VR
Unity is fast becoming the middleware of choice for game developers, and it’s also possible to use it to craft Augmented Reality experiences for HoloLens. Ralph Barbagallo, Founder of FLARB, will talk about the the basic features of Microsoft’s new headset and using them with Unity to AR games and applications in “Building Augmented Reality 2.0 Games for HoloLens with Unity”.
With AR or VR, the sense that the player is in another place is very tangible. Eric Romo, CEO of AltspaceVR, thinks what can be even more transformative is the feeling that you are with someone else. In the session “How VR Will Bring Us Closer Together: The Art and Science of Social VR” they’ll talk about VR as a new means of humans communicating.
Interacting with other people in AR and VR has huge potential, but so does interacting with artificial intelligence. Arnaud Dazin, CEO of ADVR, thinks that AI created 3D content is going to take VR and AR to the next level. In “AI, VR, & AR: Powering Our Future” they’ll talk about these converging technologies and how they are going to impact our future.
See the Future at Casual Connect USA
There will be plenty of developers, executives and investors interested in VR and AR and more at Casual Connect USA. Between the 3,000 expected attendees and over 250 scheduled speakers across all tracks there will be networking opportunities during all hours of the event.
Casual Connect USA will take place at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis on July 18-20, with the Next-Gen: VR & AR track taking place Tuesday, July 19 and Wednesday, July 20. Find out more at USA.CasualConnect.org.
David Radd and Sasha Paleeva
David Radd and Sasha Paleeva are staff writers for Gamesauce. David enjoys video games, martial arts and composing novels. Sasha loves riding horses, hiking and spending time with smart people.