At the moment we are in what I call the ‘Wild West’ of VR. Hundreds of new companies are cropping up everywhere to capitalise on the new technology and experimenting with how it can be used, for good and for worse. It’s an exciting time where the new kid appearing with a solitary stand and blank walls could be an influential player in perhaps two years time.

It is also a harsh time – many companies do not have large finances, and are reliant on either self-funding themselves or Early Access. There are companies who are up and ready to throw money at a cool idea, and many companies have profited from it – however many are suffering from a lack of attention, and it can be difficult for many to carve a decent slice of the metaphorical cake.

And in all of this, the real winners are not the new companies or brands experimenting – it is the conference organisers making the safest investments.

The sheer amount of conferences and people attempting to become thought leaders in the space mean that a good many are trying to have as many people come as possible. It is also a safe bet – VR is new and exciting, and making a conference on it makes sure that they get a good bit of income as well.

Thomas Gere, Tech Evangelist and Entrepreneur, agrees that the conference organisers are reaping in the benefits, but the practice is also beneficial for the industry as well: “I guess when new tech is coming to market, events mushroom and there is a battle of getting exposure and also monetise the buzz… I agree that this might lower the quality of some of those events but as long as they provide a VR experience then I think they are a window to get people aware of one of the main VR technology breakthrough: VR immersion. This is very important to maximise customer/corporate adoption.”

What is the solution? That depends on your business goals. For many, talking to people within the same bubble can bring insights, but potentially not as much business. Other types of marketing or business efforts could have a higher ROI than speaking at an event with competitors. This wholly depends on the business itself.

The amount of conferences will die down, and the major ones will rise up in influence and reputation – VR World Congress as one potential example. But for now, during the Wild West of VR, organisers are making safe bets to increase their prestige and making safe investments, while benefiting the industry as well.


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Tom Ffiske

Editor, Virtual Perceptions

Tom Ffiske specialises in writing about VR, AR, and MR across the immersive reality industry. Tom is based in London.