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Meta, Netflix and content creators battle for VR retail supremacy

Companies ranging from Netflix to Meta are battling it out for the virtual reality “retailtainment” crown, and the fight shows no signs of slowing down.

The desire for a physical presence in the retail space has been seen in several “retailtainment” projects – such as pop-up attractions in high-traffic locations.

This is best exemplified by Netflix’s “Army of the Dead: Viva Vengeance” VR attraction which has toured several Westfield malls internationally. But having a retail space to promote and sell immersive technologies has been a difficult balancing act.

More recently, Meta threw his hat in the ring, launching his first Meta store in Burlingame, California, promoting his online portal device, AR glasses and VR headsets on the shelves, as well as an area VR demonstration with LED screen.

The company says its first Meta store will be used to experiment and learn for rolling out future iterations.

This is the most recent attempt at retail presence by Oculus/Meta – since the poorly designed “Oculus Rift demo stations” at Best Buy in 2016, which were forced to close due to slow performance. Or the short-lived Oculus Rift-S demo stations at Microsoft stores.

The parade continues

Meta will join the illustrious line of other consumer VR makers that have set up VR demo areas in their stores, such as Google and Microsoft, only to then close.

It seems Meta’s current management hasn’t learned from its predecessors – or from working with location-based entertainment, the only industry that’s facing audiences with VR hardware – and that’s just a pill too much. difficult to swallow.

At the same time, other hard lessons have been learned, as insider sources have suggested a significant slowdown in sales, and even returns, of its Quest2 VR platform.

Meta’s Reality Labs lost $2.96 billion on $695 million in revenue during the first quarter of 2022. Pressure mounts on the embattled founder, as he bets it all on his dream of a walled garden surrounding the metaverse.

Meta takes time

Meanwhile, Meta warned investors in a statement that they now believe it won’t “thrive” until 2030, when they will see real growth in their plans – the date has changed from previous speculation of 2024. The question now will be whether investors will allow them to keep spending big on that dream as promises continue to slip.

The company also recently announced plans to partner with ILMxLAB to bring the “Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge” experience to Disney Springs Resort. This will include a demo enclosure with Meta Quest 2 headsets available for guests to reserve to try out their Jedi skills in the virtual gaming experience.

ILMxLAB, a subsidiary of LucasFilms, a VR gaming experience developer, was previously involved with Oculus (renamed Meta) with “Lightsaber Dojo” – a similar pop-up VR arena, developed in partnership with Nomadic VR in 2019. Six Arenas were rolled out for a short time at Cinemark Theaters and Simon Centers in the United States and Canada.

So the parade continues

Meta isn’t alone in pursuing VRspace. The VR platform, Pico, is also doubling down.

Owned by ByteDance, which also owns social media platform TikTok, Pico plans to launch its Pico Neo 3 Link in the West with an EU rollout of a limited number of units to test the waters ahead of launch. its next-generation standalone VR headset later this year.

Pico is able to sell in Europe, while other companies are struggling. This decision is still only a tentative development towards a full market launch.

Chinese VR headset developer DPVR, formerly known as Deepoon, recently revealed plans to launch its “DPVR E4 Pegasus” standalone VR headset in direct competition with the Quest 2.

Around the same time, the first images of Apple’s entry into the VR/MR scene, with its “Apple View” headset, leaked to the media.

Global politics also impacts VR content creation.

Several Russian developers of LBE VR hardware have been silenced due to the ongoing conflict and subsequent international sanctions.

Arcadia-VR, a VR game development house for LBE and consumer platforms, announced on social media that it would close its Moscow locations due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Retailtainment VR has become something of a high-stakes “holy grail” for entertainment content creators, and the winner is yet to be named.

(Editor’s note: Excerpts from this blog post are from recent coverage in The Stinger Report, published by Spider Entertainment and its director, Kevin Williams, the leading interactive out-of-home entertainment news service covering the immersive frontier. and beyond.)