Cubicle Ninjas CEO on Navigating the Uncharted Waters of Virtual Reality

Insights & Best Practices

June 29, 2016


min read

The emergence of a new medium can be an exciting time for developers big and small: many remember the possibilities of mobile's early days. Now, virtual reality is the medium seizing developer imaginations.While VR offers many new opportunities, the technology is still, well, new. There are technical challenges to contend with, development hurdles to overcome, not to mention a small audience. As in all pioneering phases, there's no rhyme or reason to finding success?at least, not yet.Cubicle Ninjas founder and CEO Josh Farkas is one early entrant into this new market and has become familiar with its possibilities and pitfalls. The team is developing a multi-platform meditation app, and they've learned a lot about the burgeoning mobile VR industry during the development process.Here, Farkas immerses us in some of his VR insights, covering everything from the trick to virtual reality marketing to the risks investment in VR poses:

On the unique nature of virtual reality marketing

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Samsung Gear VR mobile games VR

Image via Flickr/Maurizio Pesce[/caption]Marketing virtual reality is 100 percent visual. Showing real people in VR enjoying the experience, in a genuine and relatable way, currently seems to be the most effective approach.I feel that early VR apps need focused, relatable ideas that sell themselves. Go to space, escape from monsters, draw in 3D or relax on a beach. The more complex the concept, the harder to sell outside of VR.Laying ownership to a genre, functionality or concept is also helpful. Being the "first to X" is a perfect way to turn heads.

On the decision to go multi-platform with their first VR app

The largest benefit of going multi-platform is potential cross-device brand recognition?leading to added sales. There is also a momentum that a project gets from releasing multiple versions that helps in marketing, versus a one-time release.That said, as a project gets larger in scope, it becomes more challenging to integrate unique VR features for one platform. Mobile VR, for example, has no current motion input, so building with this in mind can force either large design changes or compromises. Another challenge is that multi-platform VR games are often solving both technical and gameplay hurdles at the same time. All of these combined equal a very difficult path to multi-platform VR development, which is why it is seen so rarely right now.

On the emergence of consumer VR and the gamble it presents

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Oculus Rift games

Image via Oculus Blog[/caption]VR experiences that support an existing business can be smart investments. VR differentiates an organization from its competition and allows them to tell a shorter brand story, in a powerful way, across many devices.That said, VR-specific mobile apps or mobile games are a risk if the organization's hope is to generate immediate, positive cash flow. Most VR headsets don't have the saturation needed to support a larger development effort. Moreover, consumer expectations are still often out of sync with the hardware both in terms of functionality and cost. And the breadth of technology changes ensure there won't be one clear winner, so there is potential danger in supporting a platform's unique features.But in that chaos is a big opportunity, and someone will get it right. Once that happens; the right team, with the right idea, at the right time has a chance to change how the world thinks about VR.