Let’s talk about Oculus adding subscription billing for VR content. Following the heels of Viveport, Facebook’s company added the capabilities last Thursday. Adding the capabilities makes sense; if done correctly, subscription-based services are incredibly lucrative for companies who want a consistent cash flow and tight relationship with their customers. Apple’s transition towards providing more services is one example, as well as Microsoft’s successful push of business-related applications.
But for me, the most interesting area is fitness. During the pandemic, VR saw a sizable boom in activity, and one of the most popular activities (alongside gaming) is exercise. Restricted in their homes and perhaps wanting to do something different, users don the headset and release the pressure with some jabs and squats. The demand is there; CCS Insight released a survey stating that the ‘majority’ of VR users work out at least once a week.
Companies are responding quickly. Recently I spoke to FitXR CEO Sam Cole, who is incorporating a subscription model into his fitness VR company. For $9.99 a month, users can receive a new class every day of the week which they can hop into to sweat it out. (This compares favorably to Supernatural, which is $20 a month). This comes along with a whole host of new additions such as multiplayer and a new HIIT studio, but what struck me as the most interesting is the transition itself. ‘Oculus launching subscriptions represents a coming of age moment for VR,’ he said, ‘as developers can provide significantly more value to their customers.’ For FitXR, it’s a bold pivot that is in line with their long-term growth goals.
I don’t personally exercise much in VR. At best I get sweaty after playing more active games for some time, as I personally prefer running. But the burgeoning demand shows that people are willing to wear headsets to get fit, and a subscription model is a great way to deliver consistent content and a broad swathe of services for their users. Not all verticals would suit a sub model – but fitness is bang on target.