“VR Would Ultimately Be Separate From Mobile” Says One of India’s Biggest VR Companies
Microgravity is an Indian gaming company with a big focus on location-based entertainment. It runs a gaming arena based out of Gurgaon, Haryana, which offers over 12,000 square feet of gaming and VR experiences.
In India, VR is largely delegated to experiences that you can only experience at certain locations. Companies like Microgravity, VR GameZone, and Zero Latency have created bespoke VR gaming locations for those interested in checking it out. VR at home, however, is largely out of reach for the average consumer, owing to the lack of high-quality headsets being officially sold in the country.
With VR being the niche that it is, particularly in a country like India where mobile gaming with titles like Battlegrounds Mobile India and Free Fire occupying most gamer’s mindspace and playtime, we spoke to Microgravity’s co-founder and CEO, Rahul Bhattacharya about the future of VR, and how diversity is an important aspect to all gaming.
Could VR Go to Mobile Again?
“I think VR would ultimately be separate from mobile, but it will become less bulky, and a lot easier to use,” says Bhattacharya on whether we’ll end up seeing a resurgence in mobile companies trying their own implementations for VR again after the previous attempt back in the mid-2010s.
“A lot of development is happening, both around augmented reality as well as virtual reality, with new kinds of devices,” he continues. “What I personally see is when you look at a mobile phone, you look at it from a certain distance.”
Of course, the mobile form factor may not be well-suited for VR to begin with, with problems arising from things like pixel density in the displays, and the shape of the screens. “When you bring that screen closer to your eye to give you an immersive feeling, it needs a certain structure in terms of its shape—convex or concave—to make that image much more immersive when you’re seeing it so close to your eyes,” says Bhattacharya.
Facebook, Oculus Quest and the Future of VR Advertising
Bhattacharya is also glad to answer my questions about Facebook’s recent experiments with advertisements in VR games through the Oculus Quest. While most gamers don’t really see it as a good thing, Bhattacharya talks about how the potential in revenue could be too difficult for companies to ignore.
“I don’t see a problem where Facebook has to push ads,” he says. “Yes, there is an obvious balance that needs to be there in terms of customer experience. But going forward, if I have to remain comfortable as a company with these investments going into online technologies, serving ads, serving impressions, pushing click-throughs, promoting our sponsors and brands who support the business, it has to be a reality. There’s no getting away from it.”
Advertising is obviously an important aspect of running a business online, especially in this day and age. “Most social media and online services are highly dependent on advertising,” says Bhattacharya. “I think that the top three revenue streams for companies that operate in the digital realm are subscriptions, in-app purchases, and advertising. I think ads could be much higher.”
The Diversity of Gamers
Diversity in gaming, especially when it comes to women who want to play games at a higher level, is quite important for Microgravity.
“I do believe that women in gaming are increasingly making an impact,” says Bhattacharya. “As a company, we have also decided to promote women in gaming by giving them the right kind of opportunities.”
“We have the Gamer Goddess program where we are identifying some of the top gamers and giving them opportunities to represent India in global championships,” Bhattacharya continues.
The focus, he tell us, is on a diverse audience is because of the growth of gaming, and how it will affect the future of entertainment in general.
Accessibility of Virtual Reality
I asked Bhattacharya about the lack of accessibility of not only VR headsets, but also how VR gaming as a whole tends to be lacking, considering the fact that VR gaming needs powerful PCs as well as expensive headsets. While companies are still hesitant about bringing VR headsets to India in a more official capacity—a headset like an Oculus Quest 2 is quite absurdly overpriced here, with others like HTC’s Vive or Valve’s Index just aren’t available in the country—Bhattacharya is quite optimistic about the future of VR in the country.
“The computing power that is required to deliver content will soon be within a VR headset,” says Bhattacharya. “Which essentially means that you don’t need a different computer. You can just access the content from the cloud. Within the next six months to a year, you will see that you don’t need the computing power of an individual PC to power VR experiences.”
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