HTC Corp., maker of the Vive virtual reality headset, will add a subscription service to its Viveport VR app store to make it easier to find VR content.
The company announced the upcoming change today at the Consumer Electronics Show. Owners of the Vive headset already have access to Viveport, an app market for the hardware the company launched in September. Currently, Vive users can access VR apps on a case-by-case basis by locating and adding titles to their library via individual purchase.
By adding a subscription service to Viveport, HTC seeks to give customers the opportunity to access apps more easily, without the need for an individual app purchase.
Rikard Steiber, president of Viveport at HTC, likened this change to making VR content similar to the same way that customers already consume music, films, TV and games from subscription services.
According to a 2016 report from research firm International Data Corp., the VR industry will be a $162 billion market within four years. The report expects the cost of hardware comes down and the accessibility of content will be primary motivators. An unlimited-use subscription service from HTC will work to put more content in the hands of consumers.
Aside from helping customers, Steiber also mentioned that a subscription service would be a benefit to developers and publishers. By joining the subscription service, published apps would profit from greater visibility.
“For developers,” Steiber added via a statement published by Wired, “this is yet another opportunity for them to reach broader audiences–we want to give VR developers as many ways as possible to monetise and feature their content, and this is yet another channel for them to reach new customers on Viveport.”
The subscription service would be in addition to individual app purchases, and developers will be able to choose to join the service or not. While pricing details have not been announced by HTC, the company did write that it would be a “low monthly fee.”
The service will not launch for some months, but it is possible to sign up for a free trial once the service arrives.
Viveport outreach to the enterprise
In addition to the subscription service for Viveport, HTC announced that it will be expanding services for arcade operators and enterprise VR customers with the launch of a dedicated VR app store for professionals.
This new arcade app store will be designed for arcades, cinemas, amusement parks and other location-based entertainment centers—those expected to have on-premises professional VR equipment designed for use by the general public.
Viveport’s enterprise dedicated app store will be aimed at customers with an interest in industrial uses of VR: healthcare, engineering, real estate and retail. With this app store, HTC expects to integrate apps for numerous industrial sectors and include tools for medical anatomical rendering, architectural design, 3D modeling and workforce training.
While the current rush for VR is a push into the consumer entertainment market, virtual reality has retained a niche in enterprise and industrial use for decades. Research firm Tractica reports that the enterprise VR market in 2014 was $114 million but will expand to $4.5 billion in 2020 on the coattails of consumer innovation.