HTC aims to ‘democratise VR’ with Viveport

HTC has announced its new dedicated virtual reality app store, Viveport, aimed at providing more diverse VR experiences.

Viveport launches on the HTC Vive today with all new content from Everest VR, Google Spotlight Stories’ Pearl, Lifeliqe, Stonehenge VR, The Music Room, a new edition of theBlu, and more.

It will be available in 30 countries and is designed to provide access to more types of VR content as part of an effort to promote virtual reality experiences that aren’t necessarily game-oriented and bring more users to VR.

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Speaking to TrustedReviews, President of Viveport and SVP of VR at HTC, Rikard Steiber, explained how he sees the project as a way of helping virtual reality cross over into the mainstream: “If you look at all the previous big computing platforms like PC, web, and mobile, it always started with games-oriented content.

“But it wasn’t games that made PCs big, it wasn’t games that made the web big, it wasn’t games that made mobile big.

“We don’t know what it’s going to be for virtual reality but we do think it will be something around these additional categories that we’re focusing on, so we want users to come to Viveport and find great content.”

Since the firm’s Vive headset launched in April, Valve’s monthly Steam customer survey revealed that the number of new HTC Vive owners on Steam grew by just 0.3% in July, and was completely flat in August.

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And while it’s early days for virtual reality, there’s a lot of work to do in order to bring the technology to the masses.

Speaking about the Vive’s popularity, Steiber added: “Of course, with every technology it will take some time. I think we’ll have a big boost around the holiday season. As we get more users we will also have more content.

I’m actually quite happy with the progress, but you always want things to happen faster if you’re in the industry. We’re in the early days of the VR revolution”

It’s his hope that Viveport will help to bring more users into the fold. And although the software is only launching on the Vive at first, Steiber told TrustedReviews it will eventually be available on other platforms too.

He was unable to provide any dates but said the team was “working very hard to make this a reality very soon”.

Once the software is made more widely available, the company hopes to move closer to its goal of  ‘democratising virtual reality’.

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Steiber explained why that was a key part of the Viveport launch: “We are giving people the opportunity to travel around the world and experience things that they never could before, or learn about things and not just read about them or see a movie.

“So I think that things that were maybe just available to people who have the financial means to go places and experience things, are going to be available to everyone now – and I think that is very important for humanity.”

The SVP of VR also revealed that HTC will be looking into augmented reality in the future, though he remained tight-lipped on when we’re likely to see anything concrete.

I do think AR has a glorious future and that is something we also want to give users as it becomes available.

“We definitely think that AR is a great experience and once there’s a lot of experiences on AR we will definitely make sure we help consumers get them.”

For now, however, the focus is on Viveport, and on bringing a range of new types of VR content to consumers.

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Steiber sees a lot of potential for virtual reality, and envisions the technology changing the way people consumer media in general – starting with Viveport.

Speaking on the subject, he said: “Typically all story telling, if you watch a movie or something, is linear, but now what’s happening with virtual reality is that you’re in the story, you’re the main character. And it’s not a linear thing.

“You can decide whether you’re going to run away from the dragon or whether you’re going to fight the dragon and you’re shaping the story.

The distance between reality and imagination is being reduced by virtual reality.”

HTC is running a 48-hour Viveport launch celebration, where several marquee titles will be available for a special price of $1 in the US.

You can head over to the official site to check out the experiences on offer, and stay tuned for more on when Viveport will be launching on other platforms.

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Let us know your thoughts on Viveport in the comments.