Wevr, the VR developer responsible for theBlu: Season 1 room-scale undersea experience and Jon Favreau’s VR project, Gnomes & Goblins, is ready to monetize Transport, the company’s content delivery system. Instead of nickel-and-diming its customers for each piece of content, Wevr is trying an annual subscription model to offer a better value for consumers.
The company launched a premium tier for the Transport VR content distribution platform. The premium tier is an annual subscription which gives you access to a variety of paid content for a low annual fee. Wevr intends to reinvest the money it brings in from annual subscriptions to create more VR content for subscribers.
Transport Premium’s licensing model is interesting. Wevr is charging an annual subscription to access premium content on Transport, but once you download a title, it is yours to keep. “You can download all the content and play it forever, and if the membership expires, you still have that stuff,” said Anthony Batt, co-founder of Wevr.
Starting With Four Items
Wevr launched Transport premium with four pieces of content: Its deep sea VR experience, theBlu: Season 1, which includes Whale Encounter, Reef Migration, and Luminous Abyss. The subscription also includes a guided meditation experience called Finding Your True Self, by Deepak Chopra; an interactive music video by Tyler Hurd called Old Friend, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival; and an interactive VR music experience from Reggie Watts, called Waves.
The initial lineup may seem sparse, but Batt believes the package offers a good value for consumers.
“We’re going to add more content. The idea is that it’s an annual thing. We actually think that if you look at it as a bundle, the content you’re getting is absolutely worth $20, period. But for that $20 annual subscription, we know that we’re going to release more content between the day you give us $20 and the day that your anniversary occurs,” said Batt.“I think you will be pretty well satisfied. I don’t have a slate of content right now that I can impress you with, but I can say that if you look at our past, our content creation has been higher than a lot of people, and I think that we’re going to continue at that pace. So, we priced it so that the consumers feel like they are getting a better than reasonable deal.”
If you already own theBlu, Transport’s premium service isn’t nearly as enticing an offer, and Wevr knows that. The company is focusing on providing good value for “new VR owners,” of which it expects to see many after the 2016 holiday season. Batt suggested that “a small population of people who already bought theBlu” will purchase Transport subscriptions, but he noted that might be “wishful thinking.”
People who already own a copy of theBlu might want to wait until more content makes its way to Transport premium, though. Batt said he expects to see enough new content each year that some of the older content will eventually be phased out, but it's not as if theBlu is going away any time soon. However, as VR technology advances, some of the experiences will cease to be relevant and will, therefore, be dropped from the roster. “We can’t predict what kind of relationship we’ll have with other creatives,” said Batt. “Though, the content that [Wevr] makes will probably always be there.”
Developer’s Get Bear Hugs
Wevr isn’t offering a premium subscription service to make huge profits. The company plans to use the money it earns from Transports premium to invest in future content. Batt explained that Wevr “wrote checks” to create all four experiences that you’ll find on Transport premium, and the company plans to continue that path to bring more exclusive content to Transport.
Wevr offers a comprehensive “three commitment” support package for developers who have ideas that interest the company. If you have a project that Wevr likes, the company is willing to bankroll the development, do the marketing for the final product, and show off your experience “at every festival that will accept it.” Wevr calls this service a “bear hug.”
Wevr Transport’s premium service is available now for Oculus and Vive. The company is charging $20 for an annual subscription for the room-scale platforms, and “if you’re a [Gear VR] user, you don’t get room-scale, so it’s $8 annual.” You can find the Transport app in each platform’s storefront.
Update, 12/14/2016, 12:28 pm PST: Corrected spelling error for theBlu.