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Would VR fit into Singapore’s entertainment landscape?

Singapore might be small, but it punches above its weight in many regards. Regarding technology and gaming, Singapore is an attractive market for international companies. So why is it that we are still waiting to be able to get our hands on a VR headset easily? Yes the Gear VR and other mobile VR devices are available, but that is not the same thing. Would VR be a good fit into our entertainment ecosystem? Let’s have a look.

The gaming community

image courtesy: channelnewsasia.com
image courtesy: channelnewsasia.com

There are many uses for Virtual Reality out there, including various entertainment options. However, it is safe to assume that because it is so expensive to get a headset, it is going to be a gamer that makes the purchase. Looking at NIKO Media Research, in 2014 1.8million players played online on a PC. That is nearly a fifth of the entire population who play games online. Of course, this varies from a hard-core eSports player to someone who only plays glorified browser games. However, even 10% of these could be interested in buying a VR headset.

image courtesy: techinasia.com
Image courtesy: techinasia.com

Keep in mind as well that the PSVR release is just around the corner. Hard sales figures of the console are hard to come by, but let’s assume at least tens of thousands have made their way into Singapore homes. Furthermore, with the announcement of the Pro sales the numbers will likely grow. However, since the sale of the PSVR in Singapore is a near certainty this is not so important to discuss as the PC-oriented headsets.

The willingness to spend

image courtesy: blog.dk.sg
Image courtesy: blog.dk.sg

One huge problem with VR (apart from the crazy space needed to play properly) is the price. Both the Rift and the HTC Vive are over a thousand dollars BEFORE having to pay the extra to get here in Singapore. While the HTC is still cheaper than the six thousand dollars it currently costs to get your hands on a Hololens (I spoke to the proud owner of one of only two in all of Singapore), but still not cheap. Are people willing to spend that much money?

image courtesy: insing.com
Image courtesy: insing.com

Game companies certainly seem to think so. Newzoo released a report at the start of 2015 which shows that Singaporeans are the highest spenders in the Asian region on gaming, about S$250 per person per year. Moreover, Singapore is the only country in South East Asia (SEA) with more gamers aged 36-50 than 10-20. That means the majority of players here have a disposable income that necessary to buy the headset.

Getting the necessary together

image courtesy: 1080.plus
image courtesy: 1080.plus

Right now, the only way to get a VR headset and the requisite games are by getting them online. It’s good then that Singapore is one of the most connected countries in the world. Statistics from the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) show that a good 88% of households in Singapore have Internet access. While download speed is not at the lofty heights reached in Korea, it is some of the fastest the region at 12Mbps average. Being able to download games is not an issue, especially in households who choose from the wide selection of high bandwidth providers.

Coming soon to Singapore. Image courtesy: geekculture.co
Coming soon to Singapore. Image courtesy: geekculture.co

So really, what is stopping Singapore from getting into VR? It’s just not being able to get our hands on the damn headsets. Singapore gamers are great in number, old enough to buy them and have enough disposable income. All that needs to happen is for HTC, Oculus and Sony to get around to letting us buy them.

Sources: newzoo.com, ida.gov.sg, straitstimes.com, statista.com

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