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How Did Facebook’s VR Ad Test Fail?

In June 2021, Facebook attempted to pioneer VR ads on its platform. But after a significant amount of backlash, the game developer signed up to put ads into Oculus Rift games pulled out. Resolution Games, which developed Blaston for VR audiences, had initially signed up to place in-game advertising within the VR dueling game, released in October 2020. But why did fans react this way – and what does this tell us about the future of VR?

What Happened to Blaston’s VR Ads?

Fans cried out that Resolution Games was making a mistake by allowing in-game ads. Quickly, they decided that Blaston wasn’t the ‘best fit’ for such ads and u-turned. The fans’ review bombed’ Resolution Games’ and accused the company of selling out to Facebook. Ultimately, both Facebook and Resolution Games had to step back from the in-game VR ad tests as a result. This isn’t the first time Facebook has lost its footing with new tech, and the debacle shows how people feel about in-game ads. But it also tells us something about VR.

Is VR’s Rise Upon Us?

VR attempted to change how things work in a significant way. But even since the somewhat unsubstantial launch of Oculus Rift in 2016, VR hasn’t performed the way it was expected to. Despite the crowdfunding campaign that began in 2012 amassing $2.5 million from approximately 10,000 people, VR hasn’t achieved what it set out to. Then Oculus, which became the name in VR hardware, was purchased by Facebook in 2014 for $2.3 billion.

Many suspected that the scope was simply too big, that the level of tech for the games didn’t match what players expected, and that the hardware for VR games was simply too expensive for this level of tech. The failure of the in-game ads just proves that fans enjoy VR but don’t want to have to jump through any more hoops to do so.

However, VR is likely to continue its slow climb to prominence, but there are still some reasons why the technology hasn’t taken off. One of the most common responses for VR’s slow-burn from the tech side is that there is no standardization across the industry. Everyone in the VR field is working on their projects in their way. The hardware, which is cumbersome and costly, also puts people off. But the most critical barrier to VR is that the games available aren’t particularly exciting. Ultimately, VR represents the future of tech and gaming. But it is yet to convert many would-be adopters.


Is VR Too Modern?

This isn’t to say that new methods of engaging with modern and advanced technology don’t work. The online casino industry represents one that harnesses the latest tech yet retains the essence of the games it delivers. For instance, we can see with the wide range of online slot games available from Betway that players want to engage with various themes and titles in the modern, digital way of playing slots. Elsewhere, mobile banking has taken off, with digital banks such as Monzo more than doubling their customers in 2020. This shows that people are prepared to break from tradition and try new, modern things.

Elsewhere, the healthcare sector has evolved to allow patients to converse with their practitioners via video conferencing software such as Zoom. This shows that small changes can benefit industries by saving time and making things more convenient. The uptake of these appointments shows that people aren’t afraid of diving into an (almost) virtual world. Similarly, estate agents like Seddons offer virtual tours of properties, which sometimes results in a sale. Doing something as big as buying a house using modern technology shows that it can work when rolled out properly.

The Facebook VR ad fail episode highlights that players aren’t quite ready for the next stage of VR – mass commercialization. Many undoubtedly feel that they have invested in a technology that many others aren’t engaged with and are being punished with the ads. Indeed, VR technology has many applications and will be an industry to watch in the future. But it is worth noting that it shouldn’t be rushed before consumers are ready for it to take the next stages in its life cycle.

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