A lot to unpack here. I agree with you that this is an exciting new medium without a lot of great content. The reason for that is because it’s not yet at scale, so publishers can’t make enough money to release major titles, although that’s slowly beginning to change.

For a content creator, the problems of financing and distribution are exactly the same as they are now for games, movies, tv, or smart phone apps. THAT is not going to change. People who want to make a VR experience — or a new PC title — either bootstrap or you use OPM (other people’s money). If no one knows you’re a genius yet, you’ll have to bootstrap it. If you’ve got a pedigree as an independent, or you established yourself working on major titles, you might secure financial partners.

360 content dominates VR because it is a young medium, hungry for content, but 360 only scratches the surface of what’s possible. There isn’t a lot of native digital content for VR right now. It's all shitty 360 and demo ware. The reasons are logical enough: VR is a new platform; it has not reached scale, tools for creators are only now coming online, and software can’t yet make enough money to justify the investment. Hardware improvements, infrastructure, and scale are all going to converge in 2018, and as a result, we are going to see a lot more original VR content from major publishers and indie developers. Meanwhile, here in the present, we have Star Trek Bridge from Ubisoft and Rec Room (recommended, by the way).

I don’t know why anyone would say the distribution problem for VR is solved. It is not solved. No one with content on Steam thinks it is solved. And it is going to get worse as more content floods into Steam’s antique system, which was built for and is dominated by PC gamers. This is why Vive started Viveport. Some smart MBAs with access to money want a platform play? Here’s a big one.

As for the studio model, there seems to be some confusion here. A movie studio controls production and distribution. A producer only controls production. Is this not the same as the relationships as game developers and publishers?

Individuals with ideas for VR experiences have a few routes to go, just like screenwriters do today. Screenwriters go to a studio who might finance their project or a producer who would finance and produce the movie and then engage distributor. If you don’t have access to studios and producers, then you go the indie route, you make the project on the cheap, put it in festivals, sell like crazy in hopes of attracting a distributor.

Here’s what a screenwriter and/or director does not do. They do not go to studios and producers and say here are my three screenplays, let’s make all of them. Only movie stars or director/producers like Steven Speilberg get to do that.

Who are going to be the big winners in VR? The guys who are already winning: Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, as well as Samsung, Sony, and HTC. These are companies with tens of thousands of employees generating billions of dollars in profits every quarter. They have the resources. They are the gatekeepers.

There are legions of young people, not just makers, in this same frustrating position. You can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience without a job. I had the same problem when I got out of grad school in the early 80s. Actually, now that I think about it, I still do.

Written by

AR/VR Consultant, Columnist, Author of the AR-enabled books “Metaverse, A Guide to VR & AR” (2018) & “Convergence” (2019). http://forbes.com/sites/charliefink

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