It’s been just three weeks short of five years since I made that bold decision to bet my career on a very much unproven technology. Like many of you reading this, I took a chance and changed my life forever; virtual reality (VR) may still be a nascent technology, but the community behind it certainly isn’t. From the original Oculus Rift development kit right through to the upcoming Oculus Quest, VRFocus has been at the forefront of the VR scene, and I’m very proud to have been the captain of this ship for so long.
However, the industry has changed a lot within that time. There have been seismic shifts from booming startup investment to scrabbling for consumer dollars, and while this was to be expected the transition has also taken its toll on VRFocus. There is little room for a publication covering what is still a niche technology to expand without embracing the change, and so VRFocus must mature not in order to grow, but simply to maintain.
I had originally planned on stepping down from my combined role of CEO and Editor more than two years ago, but changes within the company at the time kept me locked in so that I may ensure the team was supported throughout a transitional period. Two more years have passed and I definitely feel as though VRFocus isn’t moving fast enough, and it’s time for some fresh blood at the reins. Having recently separated from its parent company, VRFocus is now free to make some significant changes both internally and externally, and these changes have already begun.
Admix, a company that specialises in assisting developers to monetise their software products through non-intrusive advertising, has been supporting the development community through an online network known as VR/AR Pioneers. Here, the company showcases the latest efforts in using the mediums to create unique experiences and also to encourage discussion amongst the community. With a team dedicated to the network outside of its monetization strategy it’s a selfless endeavour that aligns itself perfectly with the original goal of VRFocus: to share in the wonder of these new mediums as they grow.
VRFocus has become known for supporting unique ventures that aid the development of AR and VR, even launching our own VR Diversity Initiative in 2017. Now, without the need to be pushed-and-pulled in multiple directions, VRFocus can further its efforts in this regard alongside the VR/AR Pioneers community. Furthermore, VRFocus will endeavour to ensure that all aspects of the medium – including those much further a field from videogames and entertainment than have previously been covered – receive an increased amount of attention. VRFocus has never been just for gamers, and can now ensure that even the most niche aspects of this niche medium can get some well deserved praise.
Alongside Admix, I will stay with VRFocus throughout this latest transitional period to ensure that the publication becomes exactly what the audience wants and needs; which brings me to the entire point of this open letter: what is it that you – the hardened AR and VR audience – demand from a specialist media outlet? VRFocus has always prided itself on being fiercely independent, regardless of who holds the purse strings. It’s been referred to as the ‘beat news’ website for VR, the ‘specialist showcase’, the ‘most influential’ and so on. But while this is all well and good, it’s those of you who return day-after-day, reading dozens of articles and supporting VRFocus as it grows who should have a say as to what direction the publication moves in. The comments section below is open, as are my DMs on Twitter. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly as it’s your opinion that matters most.