Virtual Reality (VR) didn’t get off to a flying start. After a lacklustre performance for VR headset sales in 2017, critics have argued the technology is a poor substitute for traditional video games and consoles, with others writing it off as the next Google Glasses.
But one company believes blockchain technology won’t just breathe new life into virtual reality, it will overhaul the entire games industry.
Meet Terra Virtua, a startup proposing to create a platform for users to enjoy VR as well as a serve as an opportunity for developers and designers alike to create new features.
The initial uptake of VR was a “huge disappointment”, says the company’s CEO, Gary Bracey. “Terra Virtua will address that”.
Founded in 2016, Terra Virtua is developing its own blockchain and virtual reality platform that will charge a “Netflix-style” monthly subscription for users to access content. Divided into zones, the company plans to sell these to developers to customise and create their own VR features through an API that it claims is accessible for those with limited blockchain knowledge.
Terra Virtua believes that blockchain will give users much greater control as well as facilitating greater interaction between gamers and developers and fast and easy transactions. It also argues that the security of a decentralised ledger will make users’ data and identity safe from hackers.
Although the monthly subscription will be paid in fiat, the platform plans to use its own digital tokens, TERRA (TVT), for users to purchase in-game items and developers to buy zones within the platform. This system has already been extensively proven in the regular console and video gaming world.
Planning an ICO for this April, they argue that the fast and seamless transactions will bolster the virtual economy as well as a means to incentivise developers behind popular games and features and reward users that engage with the platform.
“What we want to do is show everyone substance”, says the founder, Jawad Ashraf. “Everyone’s seen lots of ICOs come and go…we’ve got the prototype, we’ve got a working world…We’re hoping this is the right thing at the right time”
But there are still niggling doubts attached to VR. Unsurprisingly, Terra Virtua’s entire fortunes rest on the success of the virtual reality market and an uncertain future has them worried: Gary even wrote a blogpost earlier this month admitting that previous VR units were too expensive, clunky and isolated.
But Terra Virtua see themselves as the solution.
“We’re in a situation where we have so many different platforms and unless there’s something that connects them together it’s gonna fail and we don’t want that to happen”, say Jawad.
“I saw VR as a fragmented market and I saw the difficulties of the market and when I looked at blockchain I saw a way to help bring it all together…It was the right technology for the right product.”
There’s still a lot of work to be done at Terra Virtua. The company is aiming for a Q4 2018 beta launch and also want to release a mobile ‘companion’ app for users to engage with the platform outside of VR.
Although the completed prototype has reportedly received interest from Silicon Valley investors, major VR companies Sony and Google have yet to pledge their support and this could potentially limit the appeal of their product.
Similarly, if virtual reality continues to disappoint users, would there be enough active developers ready to pitch in and make the smorgasbord of VR features that Terra Virtua wants its platform to have?
There is undoubted potential in Terra Virtua. but uncertain sands cast a long shadow. Consumers have been slow to adopt the technology without blockchain, and there are no guarantees that even with Terra Virtua’s visionary approach a mass audience will materialize.