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The Rise & Popularity Of Virtual Reality In Games Media

As virtual reality (VR) is going through its first steps in the world and anyone can get their hands on the first devices of this generation, the way media covers this new industry is also going through a series of changes.What are those changes I wondered, and how can I see how journalists are writing about VR in general?

My company is a PR and consulting agency in the video games industry, and I am very much a VR enthusiast, as can attest the presence of my Kickstarter-backed Oculus DK1 in my office alongside its younger siblings. The following article is how VR is treated by the video games media, across different countries and cultures, over a set period of time.

Who covered VR? Which countries covered VR more than other? And what we learn is that some territories are way more interested in this new technology than others

A quick word on the methodology, our media monitor tool scrapped the articles published by about 4,000 websites that are covering video games in some shape or form. To keep things relevant, I limited the research to websites that cover video games as their core activity, and I excluded the media that were not in the five main languages I was interested in (English, French, Italian, German and Spanish – commonly referred to as EFIGS) as well as websites that don’t have a minimum regular output. I also had to limit the research in time, and elected for a 12 months period, from the 1st of May 2015 to the 30th of April 2016.

VR Media Reach

Out of the 768 websites that qualified for the research, the first information I checked was if the websites covered VR at all during the highlighted period.

ICO Partners: VR Media Reach (Number Of Games Websites Per Language)

81% of the videogames websites had covered VR in some capacity. Considering the criteria were pretty simple (mentioning any of the VR devices, or VR itself, in at least one article), this is not that high a number.

What is also very revealing is the fact that in English, this number is 100%. All the English websites had covered VR in the period, compared to 71% of the German and French websites. The fact that VR is a stronger topic amongst English media is further confirmed when looking at the actual numbers of articles published that were touching on VR.

ICO Partners: VR Media Reach (Number Of VR Articles Per Language)

There were four times more articles in English on VR than they were in French, the least VR-enthusiast media environment.

This needs to be brought to the scale of all these media, but it is important to know that there are actually fewer articles in games media every year in English than in German. The scale at which VR is covered is truly larger in the English online games media.

Here is another graph illustrating this nicely.

ICO Partners: VR Media Reach (Top 10 Games Websites For VR Media Impact - EFIGS)

I have tried to put together a formula that would show the “VR media impact” of all the different websites in the research. It accounts for both the number of articles that were published that mention VR, as well as for the size of the media (based on its Alexa ranking). This was a good way for us to see if a VR-dedicated media landscape was forming and getting traction.

This is just a snapshot across all the languages, but it is very impressive to see that only in English those media dedicated to the space are appearing. And to be fair, in French, etr.fr is actually doing decently, as well as realovirtual.com in Spanish, but no VR dedicated media in German or Italian have managed to build a significant audience.

In the end, this is an early technology, and early adopters are the ones that will be the most avid to get information about it, often going through the pain of getting the information in a different language, so the dominance of English media here is quite natural, but it also means we are still in those early stages and maturity hasn’t been reached. I also think these are opportunities to be seized.

You can find the full report on our website, with more details country-per-country, an analysis of the different tethered head mounted displays (HMDs) media presence, and a look at the VR games that were the most successful at getting mentioned by the online games media.

As part of this guest feature with VRFocus, you can use the code vr_focus to get a 60% discount on the report, valid for the first 50 persons to download it. You can also find there our report on the general landscape of videogames, which is available for free.