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GDC Sponsor Q&A: Viveport's Thomas Gratz urges devs to consider 'what can you bring to VR that others can't?'

GDC 2020 kicks off in San Francisco next month, and as you're planning out what to see and do at the show this year don't overlook your opportunity to check out the offerings from an array of sponsors who help fuel the games industry, including GDC's Diamond Partners, whose support plays an integral role to the success of the event!

To give you a better sense of what the expect from the show and Diamond Sponsor Viveport, we reached out to senior manager of developer marketing Thomas Gratz to find out more about what Viveport and HTC Vive are bringing to GDC 2020, as well as what the subscription model means for VR devs and where the VR market is headed!

Could you please introduce yourself and what Viveport is showing off at GDC this year?

I’m Thomas Gratz, Senior Manager of Developer Marketing at Viveport. I’ve been at HTC for around 3 and half years, joining the team just prior to the global launch of Viveport in 2016.

At GDC, Viveport and HTC VIVE are bringing a ton of informational and interesting content for developers. We’ll be having a full day of speaking sessions at our Developer Summit on Tuesday, March 17. Join us in these talks to take full advantage of our latest innovations and opportunities as well as gain insights into the VR industry as a whole.

For developers focused on the business side, we’ll share insights on performance and optimizations for titles inside of our Infinity subscription service, strategies to bring your VR title to market, and showcase other VR developers who are finding success. We’ll also have technical talks demonstrating how to integrate with our technology, leverage our SDKs, and give you a first look at some of our future projects.

For the second year in the row, we’re proud to be sponsoring VR Play. Stop by during the GDC Expo to go hands-on with exciting VR titles and meet the development teams that built them. You can also demo some of the newest technology from HTC VIVE and Viveport.

Can you talk about the potential for developers now that Oculus VR users can access the Viveport store?

Since Viveport’s inception, we knew we wanted to reach all VR users, regardless of their preferred hardware. We’ve always believed that an agnostic approach will push the VR industry forward as it breaks down barriers of entry for consumers and increases developer reach.

For developers, they can reach and engage even more VR customers on Viveport as our audience expands to new platforms and devices. At the same time, they can take advantage of unique distribution models like our Infinity subscription service or Viveport Arcade for location-based entertainment and know they aren’t limiting themselves by device.

We were very excited to open up Viveport and Infinity to Oculus users. Along this same vision, we have also extended support to Valve Index and Windows Mixed Reality owners. For standalone or all-in-one devices that utilize the VIVE WAVE runtime, Viveport and Infinity are central for those experiences too.

How is Infinity's subscription model helping developers?

Infinity is the most popular way for our customers to play VR titles and is the main source of revenue for developers through Viveport. Developers who choose to opt-in see a lot more engagement. Infinity customers are playing more titles, trying titles outside of the genres they usually play, and spending more time in headset.

We found Infinity has helped titles that usually go unnoticed get discovered by a larger audience. There’s little friction for customers to try out different titles and experiment. This can also help developers who have struggled with marketing or building a community around their titles, a difficult task in the crowded (and growing) marketplace.

For the titles that are already popular, Infinity is a great option to capture a new audience. Ongoing revenue from the subscription model can outpace revenue from a single sale which are often at a heavy discount to drive purchases later in titles’ lifecycles. In addition, for multiplayer and social titles, Infinity is an opportunity to get more users in lobbies and help populate the title without going free-to-play.

What trends in VR development do you think developers should be aware of?

We’re starting to see the VR market mature. The average customer is demanding more polished VR experiences they can sink their teeth into, and they have alternatives if a title doesn’t deliver. With more titles publishing every day, it is increasingly important to differentiate your title from others and lead with what makes your title unique. Consider “what can you bring to VR that others can’t?”.

At the same time, it has never been a better time to engage with the VR community early in a project. In this window of patience for incompleteness, customers are often not looking for a game but a long-term relationship that is worthy of their investment. Studios can get creative to bring users along the development journey with them, even if it’s not possible to share the title in early access. Start small and grow a loyal fanbase over time through development. By release, mainstream customers will already see a bubbling community that they won’t want to miss out on. Few titles succeed without planting these seeds.

From a technology side, it’s a great time to explore recent innovations. At HTC VIVE, we’re leading with new technologies like eye-tracking and mixed reality. These innovations will be commonplace in major headsets of the near future and developers should get familiar now with development.

And finally, don’t make a rhythm game. You’re already late to party.

Register now for GDC 2020

GDC 2020 runs from Monday, March 16th through Friday, March 20th. This will be the 34th edition of GDC, and now that registration is officially open, you'll want to take a look at the (ever-expanding) session schedule and your GDC pass options -- register early to lock in the best price!

For more details on GDC 2020 visit the show's official website, or subscribe to regular updates via FacebookTwitter, or RSS.


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