2016 RECAP: Our year of VR

Sorry for the lack of blog post as we were busy with setting up Singapore first and only Virtual Reality Arcade over last year November and December.

We have been running the arcade for 1 month plus now and it has been an eye-opener. Living and breathing VR and educating the general public about this amazing medium of communication is a dream come true.

Read this post of how we got to where we are now.

Humble Beginnings

IGNITE VR was started after a discussion with a friend at the Singapore Science Center which had a exhibition to showcase VR. It was my first time blogging about technology and the purpose is to just share knowledge that we learn and discover from a layman’s perspective.

Initial posts are a summary of basic knowledge about Virtual Reality that I try to write in a simple clear style without too much technical jargon.

You can find it here in the VR Basics category.

Later posts began to switch to events coverage as I try to bring the latest information and news to people who were not able to attend them. This is something that we will continue to focus on with the blog in 2017.

AsiaVR

AsiaVR is a non profit association with very similar values with IGNITE VR. It identifies very strongly with the grassroots community and serves to foster knowledge sharing, create industry awareness, forge collaborations, as well as a conduit for those within and outside the industry. As a platform, it allows developers and enthusiasts to mingle and has helped me meet my current partners at IGNITE VR and also establish valuable business contacts.

Joining AsiaVR as an organizer was one of my proudest moments of 2016. Through AsiaVR, we were able to work together with the leading VR developers in Singapore and overseas to share knowledge about VR development and insights with the local community. With over a thousand members and our regular FREE meetups every 2 months, we hope that we have helped many people further their interest and develop their capabilities to start their own journey with Virtual Reality.

In 2017, AsiaVR plans to expand further with more technical developer sharing and talks to help local developers grow and tune up their skills so that we can compete globally.

Join our meetup group if you have not here.

9 Grids VR

Steam The first HTC Vive game from Singapore that was published on Steam distribution platform was done by one of the partners at IGNITE VR.

In the earlier months of 2016, HTC Vive was just launched and there were not many games around, so my partner decided to try his hand at experimenting and creating a VR game. While we were not professional game developers, the online tutorials were great at giving us a basic in making games and we proved that we could make a game.

With 9 Grids VR, we learned about the process of making a VR game and about marketing and publishing it. We didn’t have much expectations on sales, so we were happy that there were people buying it and giving positive reviews.

In 2017, we hope that we can go back to making our next game and we feel more prepared now to make something that can provide an amazing experience in Virtual Reality.

IGNITE VR Arcade

VR has been gaining awareness in many places like US, China and even in South East Asia. However, there is still a lack of coverage in Singapore that is less gimmicky. We feel it is a medium of communication for the future and we want to let more people locally know about the joy of experiencing virtual reality.

A VR arcade is an idea that many people dream of but dare not do in Singapore due to high rental cost and the low margins due to large space requirements. However, we feel that in the short term, VR needs a physical front for people who are new to it (maybe 90% of the population) to try it out.

We decided to source for location where we can start a tiny one that is centrally located so that it is easy for friends and families to gather and have some fun with our favourite VR games.

Towards the end of October, we managed to get a lease at Marina Square and we started to go all out to realize our dream.

Below are some photos of the work in progress in late November as we spend 2 weeks to set up the place.

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We were ready to start operations … or so we thought. Multiple Vives were not easy to handle due to laser interference issues that led to room scale tracking problems. Steam platform is great for getting your personal games at home but it is not the most ideal for running multiple setups in an arcade.

We took an extra 2-3 weeks to adjust and reposition our setups and streamline our operations before we were happy with the experience we provide.

Other than word of mouth and a mixed reality lucky draw promotion on Facebook, we did not do any huge marketing campaign and even still we were quite overwhelming during the xmas and new year week. Generally virtual reality is a new thing to 95% of our customers and they require a little hand holding before they get use to being inside a VR environment. We are insistent on giving a great experience to all our customers so we do our best to guide them during their time at our arcade.

 

Our current demographics consist of mainly families and kids, but one problem we face is that majority of VR games are not designed for young children in terms of hardware/content design (scale of virtual objects are too big and controllers are too big for them to use). We hope to push for more developers to develop kids friendly games like what the mobile games industry has done.

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In 2017, we will focus marketing efforts in introducing VR to other target audience like students and working adults, so watch out for the student discounts and corporate team building program!

We will also start building a community of hardcore VR gamers locally and regionally to perhaps do e-sports tournaments for some of the more competitive and popular games.

Connect with us on our facebook page if you are interested!

2017: Our forecast

Quality content for VR will come. Not only games but for enterprise solutions as well. They will become more polished as developers become more experienced.

The user base will continue to increase and we hope that hardware becomes cheaper and better and more accessible. At the same time we continue to offer our own curated VR experience through our VR Arcade and booth setups at events.

(Oculus is now available for shipping to Singapore through Amazon  at USD927.87 and HTC Vive available through its own website and at Harvey Norman for SGD$1349)

For IGNITE VR, we want to continue to spread awareness about VR in any way possible and hear more people having fun and enjoying their time inside this amazing medium. So do continue to support us by visiting this blog, our arcade, our events and follow us on our continuing journey.