Greenlighting China: Chinajoy, Alibaba, Xiaomi Top Chinese VR News This Month

Greenlight InsightsAnalysis

China’s biggest entertainment exhibition show Chinajoy closed with more than 330,000 attendees, marking the biggest Chinajoy event ever in its 19 years of history.

There is no doubt that virtual reality was the biggest theme of this year’s event with over a third of exhibiting companies related to VR. From headsets to peripherals and content to enterprise solutions, the show provided a great opportunity for VR companies to reach out to a bigger consumer audience.

During and after the show, media was bombarding attendees who were interested in interactive entertainment with a strong message: VR is here, and it has never been so close to consumers. Throughout the 4-day event, there were more than 20 announcements and launch events of VR products, numerous parties and meet-ups. UploadVR and Survios even made their way to Shanghai to host their own meetings.

As the big party drew to a close, there were four topics that continued to stand out: the domination of HTC in the Asian high-end headset market, Playstation VR excitement, the evolution of headset companies and the growth and issues of location-based VR experiences.

1. HTC made significant growth working with local partners.
HTC Vive can be seen everywhere in the show, almost every major Chinese game developers and VR Arcade operators are using HTC Vive as their main hardware.

Despite its high price and room scale requirements for individual consumers, HTC is slowly expanding its territory into different arenas; enterprise businesses are becoming their core business. HTC seems to know exactly what they are doing in China and other companies pay attention to their success.

2. Playstation VR will be big in China.
PS4 has been officially launched for only over a year in China. Consoles have been banned for over 14 years, and became legal in early 2015, but most Chinese consumers purchase from online markets and other sources.

Chinajoy was the first event where Sony publicly showcased Playstation VR in China, but that won’t stop PSVR from being sold-out within 10 minutes for their first batch pre-orders. The booth easily became the most populated place in the entire show.

The official product will launch in China at the same time as other regions, and the price is affordable for most consumers. For consumer VR, Sony has its omega weapon: great titles from Santa Monica, SquareEnix, Ubisoft and other world-class studios.

3. Chinese headset companies are evolving.
There are more than 5 new headsets launched during Chinajoy, including a surprising newcomer Hypereal. Its latest product “Pano” is a full set of devices including a headset, two lighthouse stations and a pair of hand controllers.

The experience it delivered is considered to be on par with HTC Vive, and Hypereal has a full team working on developing games and experiences for its headset. The team claims that the tracking algorithms are different from Valve’s and Oculus’ despite a similar look of the hardware.

Another major headset company 3Glasess launched its new headset with positional tracking systems and controllers. Other companies such as Deepoon and AntVR are working on their own tracking systems.

With Valve opening up its Lighthouse system, we can expect even more competitors in the field. Product wars come early in China and tech giants such as Tencent have yet to make a move. Who’s going to win the war? No one can tell yet.

4. Location based VR entertainment still has problems to solve.
The Void ignited a flame for location based VR experiences, and VR arcades and VR theme parks have become a widely discussed VR topic ever since.

Solution providers are obtaining funds. Business giants such as Suning and Wanda Group are rolling out VR arcades. Traditional gaming arcades in China are now filled with HTC Vives.

Could they make money solely on VR right now? Sadly, the answer is no. A VR Arcade provides single experiences using HTC Vive. The experiences will have extremely low output to make a profit. The exhibitors on Chinajoy now provide different solutions.

The manufacturers of traditional egg-shape VR motion platforms now have much better solutions that can hold up to 12 people at the same time. Large-scale positional tracking systems developers such as Chingmu, Step VR, Noitom and K-Lab are provide alternative solutions, allowing 4-20 people to walk freely in a large space to experience VR.

Location based entertainment stores such as VR arcades and VR theme parks will be great touch points to educate consumers about VR, but without a mature solution to solve the throughout problem, profits are still out of reach.


Other top VR news from China:

Alibaba is showing VR shopping during Taobao Maker Festival.
Three days before Chinajoy, e-Commerce behemoth Alibaba demonstrated their latest virtual shopping demos using HTC Vive and also revealed an interesting trailer of AR shopping using Magic Leap.

The VR demo was not very well received according to people who had hands-on experience. There were still a lot of bugs, the interaction design was wired, and 3D models of products weren’t compelling. Although it’s still in its infancy, the VR shopping demo presented a possible future using VR as a way to interact with virtual goods. The Magic Leap AR demo looked very promising for a shopping scene,

We will have to wait and see whether VR or AR shopping experiences are going to reach consumers quicker and better.

Video link to Magic Leap trailer:

Xiaomi launched its first VR product.
Xiaomi, one of the biggest handset companies in China, just launched its own VR headset. It is the first mobile headset that follows Daydream standards.

The body of headset is made with lycra, an extremely lightweight fabric seen in underwear. It also incorporates a very unique design allows you to zip up the front panel using a zipper.

Xiaomi revealed a big plan for VR earlier during Shanghai Film Festival, stating that they are going to build a full ecosystem for VR. Launching the headset is their first step, followed by Daydream phones, an OS for VR and content partnerships.

Xiaomi is one of the few tech companies in China that could change the business landscape of VR. It is exciting to see Xiaomi making a move and it will definitely contribute to the overall adoption of the technology.