Samsung’s Gear VR mobile headset is undoubtedly one of the best mobile VR headsets you can buy, with the caveat that you must have a compatible Samsung Galaxy phone to use it with. However, since Samsung also makes very good phones (when they don’t explode) that’s not too harsh a requirement.
What makes the Gear VR headsets good is not only the fact that they are well-designed, but that Samsung understands the role of content in driving a platform. The involvement of Oculus and the presence of Gear VR apps on the Oculus store goes a long way to making sure people have something to do with their headsets.
The Gear-exclusive Netflix app is a stroke of genius in that regard and (apart from the poor hardware) a lack of software is a major factor that killed the LG 360 VR.
Samsung is continuing that trends by securing more content rights for themselves, incentivising people to go the Gear VR route.
A Good Sport
In particular, the company is reportedly going to offer live VR content from the UFC, X-Games and Live Nation. The service is called VR Live Pass and kicked off in June 2017. The first notable event was on June 3, a UFC fight between Jose Aldo and Max Holloway.
UFC is a fantastic choice, since (like boxing) UFC matches are most exciting when you are ringside. Using 360-degree video and personal VR is the next best thing to an experience most of us will never have.
The X-Games are also a perfect choice of this sort of technology. MX, skateboarding, BMW and other fast-paced events are perfect for thrilling immersion. 360-degree cameras mounted on F1 cars have already proven popular, so why not bring it into the fast, aerial majesty of the X-Games.
Song and Dance
Finally, the choice of partnering with Live Nation is at least as sensible as the other two deals. Replicating the experience of being at a big concert and seeing your favourite artists “in the flesh” is something there’s no doubt people will pay for. Mobile VR is ideal and we’ve already seen the idea used to good effect. You may remember the Jack White Google Cardboard app from 2014. It was a bit rough, but still pretty great. Surely Samsung and Live Nation will come up with something even better.
For the People
VR is still a growing market, but most of that growth is at the cheap end of the market with mobile VR. Samsung is making all the right moves to build a platform that people will actually want to stick with and if Gear VR takes off it means Samsung will be shipping more phones too.
The success of Gear VR so far has been rather quiet, but announcements such as these could be a sign that other companies such as Apple may have missed the mark when staying away from VR products of their own. We’ll be watching Live Pass with interest to see if it takes mobile VR to new heights of popularity.