Content key to VR business: Acer

BIG SELL::IMAX and Warner Bros’ deal to develop a VR experience based on ‘Justice League’ was a successful example of content that generates profits, Jason Chen said

By Lauly Li  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Jan 02, 2018 - Page 12

Acer Inc’s (宏碁) strategy on developing its virtual reality (VR) business is not only to target commercial clients, but is also to focus on building content that has the potential to be profitable, Acer chairman and chief executive Jason Chen (陳俊聖) said.

“After we entered the VR industry, we realized that content is key for the business. We need to determine what kind of content can make a profit, otherwise we would just waste a lot of time making contents that does not sell,” Chen told a media gathering at Acer’s headquarters in New Taipei City’s Sijhih District (汐止).

Chen said that was why Acer has collaborated with IMAX Corp to set up the IMAX VR Content Fund — which the board of the Taiwanese company in November 2016 approved a US$10 million investment to jointly create VR content.

IMAX and Warner Bros Home Entertainment’s deal on developing an interactive VR experience based on Warner Bros Pictures’ Justice League, which was partly financed by the IMAX VR Content Fund, was a successful example of content that generates profits, Chen said.

Acer first entered the VR industry in June 2016 by establishing a joint venture, StarVR Corp (宏星技術), with Starbreeze AB to develop VR hardware and software.

Acer in October increased its stake in StarVR from 50 percent to 66.7 percent with a capital injection of US$5 million, as part of its strategy to bolster its VR business.

StarVR started to ship head-mounted VR devices to IMAX in September 2016 for use in its IMAX VR centers in Los Angeles and New York.

The devices are also to be made available at Starbreeze’s VR centers in Stockholm, Sweden, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Acer said.

In addition to the VR centers, StarVR in June last year formed an alliance with automotive visualization solutions provider ZeroLight to deliver an ultra-high-definition automotive VR experience.

It has also started installing its VR solutions at Hong Kong-based fitness center operator, Pure Fitness, in its branches in Hong Kong and Singapore, Chen said.

Acer on Dec. 22 announced that Japan’s SEGA Entertainment had inked an agreement with StarVR to install StarVR’s technology in its SEGA Game Centers in Japan.

StarVR and SEGA Entertainment are to launch VR headsets and VR arcade solutions at three SEGA Game Centers by March and at another seven locations by the end of the year, Acer said.

The first installation was at the SEGA Game Center Shinjuku Kabukicho branch in Tokyo on Dec. 22, Acer said.

The business model of Acer’s various VR businesses varies depending on each project, Chen said, adding that Acer not only sells VR devices, but also PCs, ticketing systems, systems infrastructure and integration solutions.