According to a recent IDC forecast, consumer standalone VR shipments in China increased by 166.2% on year in the first half of 2022. China standalone VR in the first quarter of 2022 reached 229 thousand units shipped, while the second quarter of 2022 had almost 273 thousand units shipped. The VR landscape has had an increase in players compared with previous years, and many start-ups and traditional vendors that have not been involved in this area have launched or plan to launch new VR products to test the waters.
The recent releases of Pico 4 and Quest Pro have reignited the market buzz of virtual reality (VR) hardware. Looking back at the past months in 2022, various new VR products launched continually in China following the explosion of the metaverse concept and the gradual improvement of the industrial chain. Most of the new VR products are standalone headsets with many using Pancake lenses for the consumer market which sees increasing shipments of VR products as the VR content ecosystem dominated by gaming and fitness is developing.
IDC has observed these five significant improvements in VR products, namely:
1. Fresnel lens is being gradually replaced by the Pancake lens to improve both visual experience and wear comfort
Traditional 6dof VR standalone headsets often come with Fresnel lens which has a significant screen-door effect and leads to a thick front part on the headset. The standalone headsets launched in the second half of this year are equipped with Pancake lenses which reduce the headset weight by more than 100g and have stronger optical resolution power, improving graphics significantly in gaming use cases, which can alleviate dizziness and enable players to play longer
2. The fitness use case integrating with functions such as teaching, motion sensing gaming, and social networking is gradually independent
In 2022, the fitness use case is becoming one of the biggest highlights of the new VR products. In addition to the motion sensing games requiring a large amount of exercise, well-known uploaders' courses, multi-person social sports, calorie data, and other fitness recordings make the fitness use case gradually independent.
3. VR accessories and peripherals are increasing
Besides regular headsets and controllers, new VR products in 2022 provided by leading vendors include more personalized accessories such as breathable sponges, leg trackers, and shortsighted lenses. These accessories can extend to gaming use cases, creating more creative experiences and also helping players solve the lack of experience caused by parameter mismatches.
4. Vendors are increasing marketing investment and educational marketing activities begin showing effectiveness
Since the end of last year, the number of advertisements delivered on big video and social networking platforms has increased significantly. Celebrity spokespersons and offline advertising allow more consumers to understand VR products which were previously positioned as niche products, driving the growth of the consumer market.
5. Content partners are increasing, reaching more areas
In addition to leading gaming companies, content partners of new entrants are radiating to well-known video production companies, fitness stars, and movie stars at home and abroad.
Based on the product highlights above, IDC identifies four key findings:
1. Developer programs show that vendors will continually increase investments in content development
At present, vendors are taking a variety of approaches to develop content, for example, centralized procuring of content and games and then providing them to consumers for free, cash incentives for developers, etc.
2. In the future, cameras will play a more important role in VR devices
Judging from the new color cameras equipped on new VR products, cameras will play an important role in driving VR products to be more accurate in handle positioning, eye tracking, and facial recognition.
3. Gesture interaction applications are increasing because input methods are an important factor that affects the upper limit of VR devices
Current new products have already been equipped with gesture interaction-enabled rhythm games. In the future, more interactive input methods will help enrich the use cases of VR devices.
4. In the future, vendors will target both high-end products and mass products
Unlike previous companies that rely on one kind of standalone VR product, in the future, vendors will develop multiple product lines for people with different consumer power and needs to better meet the needs of commercial and high-end players.
Claire Zhao, a senior analyst, at IDC China believes that this round of new products has expanded the existing VR user group, bringing significant increases in users. In addition to the hardware upgrade, new games, topical VR video content and fitness use cases have all become important factors driving consumers to be early adopters. Vendors still need to invest heavily in content development to enhance user stickiness, extend existing users' use time, and increase shipments with public praise effect.