Welcome to the jungle – from the comfort of your own home!
Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash has announced he is to play a gig broadcast exclusively in virtual reality at the Los Angeles Zoo this summer, allowing fans the opportunity to watch the concert from home. The gig will be in aid of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association’s 2017 Beastly Ball on May 20 to benefit the Species Conservation Action Network. Slash is already a trustee of the board of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, and funds will go towards global conservation issues that are deemed to need critical attention.
Virtual Reality set to be the new 2020 Vision
This piece of news adds to a technological landscape that has certainly embraced VR in 2016 and 2017. Virtual Reality (VR) technology is definitely on the rise, so it’s no surprise that it’s extended its influence to live music events. Event organisers Boiler Room are building a virtual reality events venue together with VR company Inception, seeking to allow viewers to experience concerts, gigs, and festivals half-way around the world. Paul McCartney teamed up with JauntVR to showcase a VR performance of Live and Let Die, while Coldplay, who are estimated to worth $475 million, re-packaged their Ghost Stories album to be released in a VR format. Live music seems eager to join console gaming as the latest entertainment phenomena to receive the VR-treatment, but where do we go next?
The spark that ignited the VR trend could be traced back to the eagerly anticipated Oculus Rift, Facebook-owned Oculus VR’s virtual reality headset, which was finally released in March 2016. Despite the expectancy for the future of gaming tech, reports indicated that it took some time for Rift to pick up. Only around 400,000 models were sold in the first year (compared to 500,000 for key rival HTC’s Vive model, and 800,000 PlayStation VR units).
Despite the listless sales reports trickling out of Oculus’s debut year, VP of the brand, Nate Mitchell, is confident that VR will boom. He claims that future content and future specifications – and blamed the late release of Touch (the handheld control that matches your movements with the VR character’s) - will contribute to the future growth of Oculus Rift. Indeed, SuperData is also confident of the boom of VR, offering the high price point and lack of gripping content as the reason for the slow start. Early reports state that the VR market for hardware and software combined looks set to top $29.b by 2020 - giving new meaning to the phrase 2020 vision.
Offices, casinos – virtually anything is possible with VR
There is no doubt that while many may be shy to dip their toe into the VR water at the moment, everyone will be splashing about in that pool within half a decade’s time. The limits for VR are seemingly endless, with gaming being the most obvious use of the technology. In reality, the scope for what can be made into a VR experience is almost infinite. VR meetings look to replace conference calls by 2020 according to the Wall Street Journal – with everyone even being delivered the same food. 77% of office staff surveyed claimed they would try it, and over half stated that with better facial recognition technology, they would prefer VR meetings over physical ones.
But perhaps the biggest coup for VR will be online gambling. Juniper Research claims that by 2021, $520 million will be generated from VR gaming (compared to the $58.5 million it currently stands at), with wagers set to rise 800% in the virtual sphere. The success of live casino games, such as those offered by iGaming brand Bet Way, already offers an immersive casino experience alongside other gamers from across the world. The live model allows players to experience the positives of a physical casino, without having to go to one. Real-time playing with real-time players ups the ante of the gaming experience and provides a social community alongside the challenge of the game. The popularity of live streaming platforms such as YouTube Gaming - where "channels" are automatically assigned to videos based on the type of game featured - shows that live streamed experiences are already popular in the gaming world and will ultimately merge with VR options.
VR casinos are some ways off, but the scope for development of all VR endeavours provides a fertile ground for the seeds to be sown. The success of the Slash gig at Los Angeles Zoo will further cement into the public’s consciousness the potential for the VR platform, which looks to skyrocket exponentially. But for now, have some patience, Slash will appear alongside Jack Black, Grace Potter, and Bernard Fowler, Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Band on May 20 Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association’s 2017 Beastly Ball.