The Number of People who have Tried VR has Doubled in a Year!! More than Games, People Want to…?”

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One year from 2016, said to be the first year of VR―According to the gaming market research company Superdata, the Consumer virtual reality revenue has grown 20%, from a combined sales figure for software and hardware totaling 1.8 billion dollars (approximately 191.8 billion yen) in 2016, to one of 2.2 billion dollars (approximately 234.5 billion yen) in 2017. Also, 2017 saw the prices for various headsets lowered, and by the end of the year, the global cumulative total shipment number of PlayStation VR units broke the 2 million mark, making VR more accessible to a greater number of people. Continuing the work from last year, we conducted a survey regarding VR. In Japan, how did the situation of VR, which last year only 7% of people had experienced, change over the course of one year? Let’s dive right in and check it out!

■In One Year, the Number of People who have Tried VR has Doubled!

Every year in December, Fields Research Institute conducts the leisure survey Fields Yoka Survey (FYS). This time we will explore the state of Japanese people’s interest in VR using the results from our latest survey, FYS2018(*1), conducted in December of last year. First off, let’s see how well the word “VR” was known at the end of 2017.

※Based on All Respondents.
※For the sake of convenience regarding categories, 19 year olds were included among people in their twenties.

Overall, 83% of participants answered that they “knew” VR. In the previous survey this figure was at 45%, so it is apparent that people’s knowledge of VR is increasing rapidly. At over 90%, the number is especially high among males in their twenties and thirties, and along with how even among elementary school students, who had the lowest number, around 50% of respondents were aware of VR, the gap in awareness of it between age groups has diminished, and the word “VR” appears to have considerably permeated into the public’s awareness within this one-year span.

※Based on All Respondents, including who don’t know VR
※For the sake of convenience regarding categories, 19 year olds were included among people in their twenties.

On the other hand, the overall number of people who answered that they “had experienced VR” was 14.2%. In the previous survey, this number had been 6.2%, meaning that, within one year, this number more than doubled. One of the contributing factors seems to be that the environment is starting to become one where it is easier for people to try VR, with an increase in the number of facilities where it is possible to experience it, and the drop in the price of devices. While the number still cannot be called high, it can be said that the number of individuals who have experienced VR is steadily increasing. In the previous survey’s results as well, the percentage of males who had tried VR was greater than that of females, and that trend seems not to have changed. Especially for respondents in their thirties, the number of male who had experienced VR was more than double that of female.

■VR is Gradually Making its way into Ordinary Homes…

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, the price for VR devices dropped last year, and the number of units shipped out increased. So, to what extent has the number of people who own VR devices increased? Next, we will look at the percentage of people who answered that they themselves, or someone in their family, has already purchased a VR device and have it in their homes.

※The data above should be considered reference values, as they are based on very few respondents
※For the sake of convenience regarding categories, 19 year olds were included among people in their twenties.

The overall percentage of people who owned a VR device, which in 2016 was 0.8%, increased to 3.0% in the one year until 2017. Looking at the breakdown, we can see a large disparity, with double the amount of male, 4.0%, owning VR devices compared to 1.9% of female. Also, this time, in addition to male high school students (16-18 years old) and male in their twenties, who had a particularly high ownership percentage in the previous survey, male in their thirties now also had a rather high ownership rate.

Looking at the results as a whole, in 2017 the results for male in their twenties and thirties stands out. Considering that in the previous survey male high school students and male in their twenties were the noticeable feature, it can be regarded that interest in VR especially strengthened among male in their thirties during 2017.

■What People Want from VR is “A World Separate from Daily Life”!

Lastly, we asked people who answered that they knew about VR about the type of content they would like to experience, and what they are looking for from VR.

First, the results for the type of content people wish to experience are as follows:

※Based on Respondents who knew VR.
※Respondents selected all options that applied to them.

“Experiencing travelling” was at the top, followed by “Being ‘inside’ movies, anime, manga, etc.”, “Watching movies, music/sports events, etc.”, “Relaxing”, and “Fantasy experiences like flying, etc.”. The top five took in around 20% of the votes, and as there was not much of a difference in the number of responses for each of them, it can be thought that there is a high level of need for all of them. Overall, there is a strong impression of a desire to go to a world separate from that of daily life, more so than that to play games.
However, if we look at this ranking separately for male and female, the trends look somewhat different. While “Experiencing travelling” and “Being ‘inside’ movies, anime, manga, etc.”, which ranked first and second overall, were ranked especially high among female, it can be seen that they were not as popular with male. If we look at the ranking for just the male, the most popular response was “Watching movies, music/sports events, etc.”, with “Experiencing travelling” coming in second, and “Being ‘inside’ movies, anime, manga, etc.” third. Also, if we look at just the female, the previously mentioned “Experiencing travelling” comes in first, but second place goes to “Relaxing”, with “Being ‘inside’ movies, anime, manga, etc.” coming in third. We can see that there are differences in what male and female want to experience from VR which are not easily discernable from looking at the overall ranking.

Next, the results for what people are looking for from VR are as follows:

※Based on Respondents who knew VR.
※Respondents selected all options that applied to them.

We can see that what people want most from VR, with an overwhelming 27% of respondents want VR to ”Be cheaper”. While it was thought that VR had become more commonplace with the drop in prices of devices, it appears as though people want it to become even cheaper. VR may become even more popular in the future if it becomes more affordable. There was not much of a difference in the responses of male and female in this ranking, and it appears as though, overall, people are all thinking in a similar way.

Also, while it is not shown in the previous two graphs, another option, “I don’t care about VR at all”, was given to participants, and 33% of individuals who answered that they knew about VR selected it. In other words, one out of every three people who knew about VR did not have any content that they wanted to experience using it, wanted nothing from it, and had no interest in it. While I think that there are various reasons why these people are not interested in VR, “one out of every three” people is a considerable number. I hope that, in the future, better content will be released so that these people can also become interested in VR.

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(Article:T.Komuro)

Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment.
This article was written by a member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests observed in their daily lives.
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(*1)Fields Yoka Survey 2018
A web survey carried out in December 2017 which surveyed 11,642 people across the nation from elementary school age to 69 years of age. It queried their behaviors in relation to and their sense of values regarding free time.
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