2016 was meant to be the year of Virtual Reality and indeed, the technology improved pretty fast thanks to big growth drivers like HTC, Google, Oculus and Samsung. Now 2017 might be the year for VR to take off, as there’s a market now that is large enough to make your living of Virtual Reality. But how do you actually earn money?
(One important thought at the beginning — if you just clicked this article because you want to become rich really fast using a new buzzing technology, then you should move on directly, thanks!)
If you are as thrilled as I am about Virtual Reality and the upcoming opportunities of an entirely new industry you could be as enthusiastic as I am to combine work and passion and make your living out of it. I made this step last year with VIRE and I met a lot of VR enthusiasts around the globe. They were all different but helped me to understand what kind of jobs are currently available in the VR environment. Hence I’m addressing the following three thoughts to ambitious individuals that would love to create their own personal VR legacy.
1. Build & monetize your own VR experience
As a developer who is skilled in game engines like Unity or Unreal the first (and probably most fun) possibility to make money could be to build and sell your own VR game. If you are on your own you won’t have the capacities to build the next Job Simulator but there are games like Eleven: Table Tennis VR — a table tennis simulation, or Pinball Pro VR — a VR Pinball Player — that were build by only one person and they are pretty fun.
If you’ve developed your game you’d have two options to monetize it:
- Put it on the Steam / Oculus store and sell it for cash (Note: the store will take a 30% revenue share so you end up with 7$ if you sell it for 10$).
- Sell it for free and monetize it by integrating advertising within your experience. There are some startups in the market which already connect you with brands, including mine. If you are interested in this option, just let me know.
2. Advise VR interested companies
Well, I know that option one is the coolest way of earning money with VR, but if you can’t code — like me — you won’t be able to set up a game, a simulation or application all by yourself. Even a super skilled dev like my co-founder Nils would need a lot of time to build a proper game / experience on his own.
As I’m more the creative guy with a classic marketing background I realized that there are tons of opportunities to advise and be consulted by corporations to teach them about VR. I met a lot of brand-representatives who are interested in creating engagement through Virtual Reality but they don’t know how (and sometimes they just want to follow the buzz for the sake of doing it). They don’t have the time to gather the knowledge and setting up high-end VR systems, or to learn how a 360 degree camera works and how to do the stitching and so on.
You can benefit from their ignorance of VR and sell your wisdom to these companies by helping them to understand VR and mock up experiences. You can do so as a freelancer or as an employee for a virtual reality agency likeVirtual Umbrella (Samantha Kingston and Bertie Millis are living the dream 😄) who is doing a great job to spread the potential of VR across the UK and Europe.
3. Be a VR researcher
We, the marketing people, are addicted to data. Not that we don’t prefer the creative part of our jobs, but as we are constantly trying to make companies understand the huge potential of VR for the future of communication, advertising, education and life in general, we need data to proof what we’re talking about.
As the technology is constantly improving we urge to understand what shapes the feeling of Presence, or how users move in digital environments. What are their needs and what are they afraid of? Are they more focussed on specific items in VR and how will they decide what to look at, focus or interact with in VR.? Will they be more likely to move right or left and how should we accommodate and design Virtual Worlds to offer the best possible virtual experience ever?
I am only addressing a few topics that are related to my daily business, but think about the research that could lead to breakthroughs in education, psychology, social behaviour or medicine, incredible what we will be able to learn! Of course research is usually related to a university professorship or a job as scientific assistant (for instance at the awesome Cologne Game Lab in our hometown), but there are also companies like Greenlight Insights which is focussed on industry reports and consumer trends. You probably won’t make a fortune out of your research, but as an expert in VR-research you surely will be very valuable in the future.
These three options shall give you a little inspiration for your way into Virtual Reality environment. Of course there are more alternatives, e.g. you could set up a blog and write about VR trends, but the market is prettycrowded already. You could also earn money by playing VR games likeNathie, or you’d try to be hired by a VR only company like NextVR (Helen Situ).
Otherwise you could run a DIY Virtual Reality theme-park with less effort 😁:
So, it’s up to you: if you are ambitious and open for some challenges the chances are good that you could make a living (and maybe some day shitloads of cash) out of Virtual Reality.