Just a week after the one-year anniversary of the Oculus Rift’s consumer debut, the HTC Vive is celebrating a similar birthday with the launch of its Viveport subscription service.
The easiest way to describe the service is as Netflix for VR. It could save you money if you’re currently spending a ton of cash on new games each month.
I gave the service a try and it really isn’t much different from the normal VR title purchasing experience on Viveport — and that’s good thing. Once you sign up for the $6.99 per month subscription, you can select five VR titles from a curated selection on Viveport, including stunning ocean simulator theBlu and NASA experience Apollo 11 VR. Once your subscription renews the next month, you can select new VR titles, or keep the ones you already have.
At roughly $84 per year, that puts HTC Vive’s subscription service on par with services like Hulu and Netflix, including features like a free initial trial month and the ability to cancel at any time. Given the relatively nascent commercial VR consumer base, a cancellation feature is vital to getting people to experiment with various VR experiences. Thankfully, the cancellation function is easy, but not totally obvious (you have to select your five titles before you’re given the ability to cancel, even during the free trial).
Another potential issue with the service is confusion regarding subscription versus non-subscription titles. The VR titles covered by the subscription are distinguished by a small gray dot that’s so subtle I almost added a couple of titles not covered by the subscription (an error that could quickly become costly if you don’t pay close attention).
Those who have one or two VR games in which they develop scoring titles and rankings may be wondering what happens if you decide to deselect a title for a month and then come back to it under the subscription. According to a Vive spokesperson, while the specifics of each VR game are handled on a developer-by-developer basis, “your leader board/stats would still be active. It would be as if you just didn’t play the game for a month or two.”
With over 600 overall VR titles available in Viveport, the company’s initial small selection of titles (roughly 100 developers have opted into the program) available to subscribers will have to grow quickly to make this a viable offer to users. As far as encouraging VR developers to join the program, the Viveport subscription revenue split has 60 percent of profits going to VR developers.
Incidentally, when I asked Vive what this new service might mean for its relationship with its partner site Steam, the most popular way for HTC Vive users to snag VR titles, they confirmed that the subscription rollout will change nothing regarding its presence on Steam.
“I think this is the perfect opportunity and time in the VR timeline for this,” says Patrick Seybold, Vive’s vice president of communications. “The overall objective of the Viveport subscription service is to ensure that consumers are able to maximize their exposure and opportunity to experiment with all the different content on Viveport.”
It’s a promising attempt to help spur revenue growth (and platform stickiness) in mainstream VR’s early days, but at almost $100 per year, the value proposition for users is mixed. Sure, many VR experiences cost upward of $30 to $40 a pop, so if you’re a heavy new VR title user, the subscription makes sense. But with no true breakout VR hit yet, and a lot of poorly rated titles cluttering the Steam store, most VR users seem to be sticking to the experiences they know and love. From that perspective, Vive’s subscription service may be about a year or two early. But I get it. Better to start early, before VR gets even more crowded with headsets and app marketplaces from Microsoft’s Windows Holographic partners.
Along with the subscription service, HTC Vive also celebrated its one-year anniversary by offering a limited time deal of $100 off the $799 purchase price of its headset. Although Vive has previously said that it doesn’t feel the need to drop its price in response to the recent price cut on the Oculus Rift, the timing of the offer is nevertheless a signal that the VR competition is heating up.
Source : www.mashable.com
Author : Adario Strange