Long-Term Engagement in the Show Business: Is VR the Secret?

by RedPeg Marketing

As the development of and consumer interest in virtual reality (VR) continues to grow, so does the value placed on interactive experiences. And with individual media consumption rates only increasing (Americans spend 10 hours and 39 minutes each day consuming media), the question is no longer about how to convince consumers to purchase this television series, that movie, or those games, but rather how to ensure long-term engagement with such media? [1]

With the recent releases of games like Batman: Arkham VR and Game of Thrones: Ascend the Wall, it appears the entertainment industry has finally landed on a promising way to keep fans engaged long after the movie or series has ended. Their solutions? Branded virtual reality, augmented reality (AR) and/or mixed reality (MR) games. By involving a multitude of choices and outcomes for players to make and experience, these immersive games ensure players have different experiences each time they play. Not only does this encourage long-term engagement with the game, but it also prolongs the player’s journey with the show or movie on which the game is based.

That said, media brands will face another hurdle when they determine how to monetize these games. Video game developers, such as Telltale Games, found early success through downloadable content (DLC), episodically releasing both Batman: The Telltale Series and The Walking Dead video game series. This model proved quite lucrative, seeing more than 28MM+ episode purchases for The Walking Dead by 2014. At $5/episode, that’s more than $140MM in revenue. [2]

Microtransactions are seen as the next wave of in-game payment tactics, allowing players to purchase the ability to unlock new levels, or gain new characters, lives or equipment. Though this tactic has seen mass adoption among gaming publishers, it’s been met with scrutiny among gamers. In this model, fans with money to spend keep pace with the super-fans, who devote large chunks of time to the game. In other words, why spend four days mastering a level, when you can get there in one day by purchasing another life?

Regardless of the to-come pricing model, VR, AR and MR are here to stay. Recent game releases and their impressions have made it clear: increased interaction leads to long-term engagement, which we predict, may just help combat the lack of brand loyalty prevalent among millennials and upcoming generations.

Just ask the publishers behind Harry Potter or Stranger Things; both series recently announced the upcoming releases of their own respective AR and VR experiences.

[1] Nielsen Company Audience Report

[2] Tech Times