Free VR?

I am NOT giving it away, but it seems many other folks are.

I’ve been struck over the past few months by how many companies are not only willing, but eager, to produce VR content for celebrities FOR FREE. High-quality production for linear content is expensive; high-quality production for VR content can be even more so.

The firms and studios that have offered their services at no-cost have generally done so for one or more of three reasons:

  1. Eagerness to showcase their capabilities (in the hopes of future, paid business)
  2. Desire to build up exploitable IP
  3. Development of content that serves a clear IRL or brand marketing objective (since distribution isn’t yet large enough to generate meaningful reach)

These are generally good reasons when applied correctly (BTW – I have many thoughts about #3 – will come back to that in a separate post).

But I have a hunch that there is a bad reason driving this glut of production as well: too much money.

We’re on the verge of a VR gold rush. Don’t get me wrong, I am bullish on the format (in its many varieties). I am a staunch believer in the many ways it is going to totally reshape everything from gaming and entertainment to public safety and warfare.

That said, it seems as if there is a rush of investment capital and brand marketing budgets to fund anything with the label “VR” attached. I’ve seen some bad VR experiences – those that were poorly produced, as well as those that simply didn’t add anything cool to what could easily have been regular video pieces.

None of this is really surprising, since, as with many new technologies, there just isn’t enough compelling creation taking place to support all the dollars flowing in, so some money inevitably flows to projects that will turn out to be bad investments. Like all gold rushes, some folks will get really, really rich. Some will lose their shirts.