According to a recent market report, the VR industry will grow at the incredible annual rate of 35% in the next few years. As more and more people start to buy headsets, the industry will need to keep generating fresh content to keep them interested. And as companies and users produce ever more VR experiences, the question of ownership rights will naturally arise. VR can be a rich source of monetization – but how can experience creators make sure that the revenue goes to them? Here's where blockchain comes in: it's a great mechanism to establish rights to an asset and track its usage. Not surprisingly, quite a few projects have emerged proposing to merge blockchain and virtual reality.
We have selected 5 projects that are exploring innovative ways to monetize virtual reality. Rather than just allowing users to play games wearing a headset, they offer their clients to open virtual businesses, attend concerts and sports events, shop, or sell their services. All five have already gone far beyond a simple idea: you can actually use them and even buy a virtual land plot of your own!
Unlike many other VR projects that focus strictly on entertainment, VIARIUM has a more practical, business-oriented approach. The company designs and sells digital plots of land that can be developed into sales outlets, showrooms, meeting venues, and much more. What's more, it allows users to monetize their own VR content and retain exclusive rights to it. Online commerce is expected to become the key driver of the VR industry, dramatically expanding the customer experience. The prices of virtual shopping outlets are starting to grow rapidly, leading to a heightened interest from investors. VIARIUM has recently sold a large virtual plot to an Arab sheikh for $280 000 and is currently preparing for its IEO.
On CEEK, it's all about events – be it concerts, basketball matches or drama performances. The company started out as a manufacturer of VR headsets and later branched out into virtual experiences proper. However, it neither develops its own original content nor offers its users to add their own custom-made experiences. Rather, CEEK aims to partner up with record labels, sports teams, theater companies, and professional educators to broadcast events in its virtual venues located in a specially designed “digital city”, complete with a concert hall, arena, teaching auditorium, and more.
Decentraland offers users to buy 10x10m plots of virtual land in its “Genesis City” that they can develop and monetize as they wish. So far implemented projects include an RPG, a card game, and a racing game. By purchasing adjacent plots, members can launch larger businesses and increase their revenue. At its heart, Decentraland is a VR-enhanced gaming universe on blockchain. It should be noted that the project uses IPFS (Inter Planetary File System) for distributed content storage – another experimental technology. File storage with IPFS is free for now, but it remains to be seen if the limited resources of IPFS can support the growing amount of data generated by Genesis City.
Somewhat similarly to VIARIUM and Decentraland, BeachHead offers users to buy virtual plots and develop them. Its specific feature is its focus on gamification. The platform is centered on a virtual city where members can shop, watch concerts, or sell their services – but at the same time they have to protect the city from an invading force. For these efforts, they will earn tokens. In fact, BeachHead is a reincarnation of a popular game from 1999. The project aims to attract the gaming audience, which so far have been the most active users of VR.
VibeHub is a marketplace of VR content – it doesn't offer virtual properties, just aggregates experiences developed by others. One area of VR creation where the project's founders are active is capturing holographic images of real people – celebrities, educators, comedians, and so on. According to the organizers, such holograms are the future of making video. So far the marketplace features two simple games and a few holographic singing performances, but many more are coming soon.
The five projects we have selected all have two things in common. First, they offer cool new ways to earn money in the virtual world. As an owner of an online store, you might open a virtual showroom where customers can “touch” and see your products from any angle. As an event organizer, you can arrange a meeting where corporate executives will appear as 3D avatars. As an artist, you can sell tickets to a virtual performance. As an investor, you can buy a large digital plot while it's cheap, develop it, and sell it at many times the original price.
Second, on all these platforms, blockchain will protect your rights and ensure that you get all the revenue that's due to you as an owner or creator. When Instagram and YouTube were just starting out, nobody could imagine the scale of ownership issues that would come up. Powered by blockchain, VR may just skip the worst of the growing pains.