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Half of Westerners no interest in buying VR (yet)

Newzoo’s latest round of consumer research in 16 countries has investigated VR awareness and buying intentions.

Across key countries in North America and Europe, an average of 11 per cent of the online population between 10 and 65 state that they are planning to buy VR products in the next six months. Half of Western consumers have no interest in buying VR products (yet) and another 8 per cent are not aware of it at all. Close to a third of those sampled, 32 per cent, have not decided yet.

On a country level, Spain scores the highest with 16 per cent showing interest. When zooming in on hardware budget, Canada has the highest share of VR buyers that should be able to afford the high-end products. Cross-analyzing esports engagement and VR buying intention shows that there is a strong correlation: 63 per cent of all VR buyers are into esports. Remarkably, none of the VR manufacturers have jumped on this opportunity by sponsoring esports events, teams, channels or leagues. This is destined to change in the near future.

Peter Warman, CEO Newzoo comments on VR: “At Newzoo, we have been relatively silent when it comes to VR. This has to do with our expectation that the lion’s share of VR revenues will be generated by hardware sales, spectator content, and live viewing formats. Game software revenues from VR will remain marginal for the near future and be absorbed into current PC, TV/console and mobile game revenues. We will leave guestimates on the future size of the total VR market in revenues to the experts in hardware and (online) retail sales. We are specialists in game revenues and gamer behavior. Hence our effort is to research and report on VR from a consumer perspective because ultimately, in the long term, VR and AR will change how consumers communicate and interact with content.”

SIZING & PROFILING THE VR OPPORTUNITY IN THE WEST

Looking at buying intention of consumers across 12 countries in the West, we see that 11 per cent of the online population (aged 10-65) intend to buy a VR product in the next six months. Intention is highest in Spain, Italy and the US with consumers in the Netherlands and Belgium most skeptical of the new technology.  Interestingly, 7 per cent of this group, or 4.4 million people, are non-gamers. This proves the technology’s appeal and reach is already extending beyond gaming.

The highest interest in VR can be found among game enthusiasts, but this does not imply that VR gaming will be the most popular use of VR. We expect in-game and real-life spectator formats to draw most time and money of VR consumers. VR’s reach into all forms of entertainment, including music and sports, will increase dramatically as it becomes more mainstream and affordable.

On average, men comprise 68 per cent of those who intend to buy VR. In Belgium this percentage stretches to 85 per cent, with the share of males lowest in Italy at 64 per cent. Interesting for developers of VR software and hardware is that 80 per cent of gamers who intend to buy VR play on all platforms (PC, Console and Mobile). Thus, developing for one specific platform might not be the smartest strategy.

MORE THAN HALF OF ESPORTS ENTHUSIASTS PLAN TO BUY VR

Focusing on the US, buying intention is slightly higher than the Western aggregate with 12 per cent of the online population planning to buy VR products in the upcoming 6 months. There is a strong correlation between buying intention and interest in esports. Over half of Esports Enthusiasts and 24 per cent of Occasional Viewers are planning to buy VR in the near future, respectively.

In fact, Esports Enthusiasts represent 45 per cent of the group that plans to buy VR. Considering such a clear link between esports and interest in VR, it’s surprising to see so few of the manufacturers investing in the space. This is even more surprising when you consider that these fans are tech savvy and willing to spend on memorable experiences.

MATCHING VR ROLLOUT STRATEGY TO CONSUMER BUDGETS

When creating a rollout strategy and realistic expectation for VR product sales, it’s important to not only examine which gamers have the highest intention to buy, but also who has the budget to match your offering. Just 18 per cent of the Western gamers that intend to buy VR have spent more than $600 on gaming hardware in the past 12 months. This varies strongly per country.

In Canada only 7 per cent of consumers intend to buy VR. However, the Canadian gamer has a relatively high hardware budget, with 28 per cent of those who intend to buy having spent more than $600 on hardware in the past 12 months. In that respect, the more expensive VR models like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are more likely to match the budget of a Canadian gamer than a Spanish gamer for example. Though interest in VR is highest in Spain (16 per cent), they money they invest in gaming hardware is much lower. It is likely that the cheaper VR offerings will perform better there.

Diving deeper into Western gamers who have a high hardware budget and who intend to buy VR, we see that 72 per cent of them own a gaming keyboard, 70 per cent a gaming headset and 69 per cent a gaming mouse. It appears these gamers collect gaming accessories and that VR will be a welcome addition to their hardware collection.

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