China Leads Global Virtual Reality Market

The Chinese VR market – boosted by the nation’s love for gaming – is booming. But what are the key trends? We asked Piers Harding-Rolls, Research Director, Games Technology, Media & Telecom, at IHS Markit.

“In the past three or four years, as smartphone-adoption has risen and app stores within China have proliferated, the market has grown tremendously – now the biggest market globally in terms of consumer spend – bigger than the US.

The Chinese market for VR is a unique case. We find an unusual mixture here, with some global brands not officially in China, such as Gear VR or the Occulus Rift, and a large number of local operators working in this space. They’ve moved very fast, and there’s a huge number of headsets and places where people can buy Virtual Reality headsets, whether it’s the cheaper smartphone-end of the market or the higher-end stand-alone or PC-based experiences. As the higher-end headsets are priced from US$300 upwards, there’s been an absolute explosion of venues where consumers can use higher-end headsets. Our count towards the end of 2016 was over 10,000 venues. These range from “pop-up” scenes, with a couple of headsets in a mall, but progressively you get very big retail outlets which are now quite advanced arcades for VR where you can go with a collection of friends and play a variety of different VR experiences. They have largely been driven by local manufacturers, making it a unique market. It will definitely be one to watch!”