Virtual reality has long been seen as the next major leap in video games, dating back to Nintendo’s ambitious and ill-received Virtual Boy in 1995. While manufacturers continue to nurture this slow-growing niche of the gaming industry, new YouGov data shows what other activities consumers around the world are interested in doing using a VR headset.
First, it’s worth noting that nearly two in five (37%) of consumers indicated they are interested in playing video games using VR, which is far from an insignificant number.
Of the ten options presented to respondents, nearly the same number of adults say they would be interested in watching a movie with family or friends (34%), a figure that presents some opportunity for the film industry, which remains hobbled by the effects of COVID-19. If consumer habits are permanently altered by the pandemic, or they are slow to return to pre-pandemic behaviors, the virtual reality space could offer consumers the feeling and excitement of seeing a movie in a crowded cinema without the potential for any lingering coronavirus-related anxiety. Consumers in Mexico (50%), the United Arab Emirates (40%) and the Asia Pacific region (46%) are most likely to indicate interest.
Three in ten (30%) say they’d be open to evaluating holiday destinations, again salient for the travel and tourism industry looking to roar back to life as restrictions lift. Consumers may want to do more homework on potential destinations before booking, and VR could be a useful marketing tool.
As large concerts remain live streams only for many at the moment, roughly a quarter (27%) say they’d be open to strapping on a VR headset to virtually attend a concert, while 21% would be keen to do so for a sporting event.
Less, but not insignificant, interest is seen in other activities on our list, such as meditation in a virtual reality (17%), shopping (17%), attending work (15%) or school (15%), or playing an instrument (13%).
Stark differences emerge along gender lines, particularly in interest in playing video games. While 44% of men are keen to play, just 30% of women are. An even larger gulf is seen in interest in watching sporting events (30% of men vs. 13% of women).
Aside from those activities, interest is generally similar between men and women, though overall it’s higher among men.
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Methodology: The data is based on the interviews of adults aged 18 and over in 17 markets with sample sizes varying between 511 and 22,138 for each market. All interviews were conducted online in March 2021. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples.