HTC to Open “Vive Cafes” in China

Better yet, HTC is set to continue this trend worldwide once their Chinese expansion is underway and tested fully.

( Full story from roadtovr.com)

HTC plans to roll out “hundreds” of these Vive cafes in China, starting Shenzen.China has a solid base of “regular” internet cafes that are eager to jump into the VR bandwagon. HTC is helping this trend along by offering incentives to developers even outside of China, with a focus on cafe style games that are cooperative and best experienced in a group.

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Image from Alvin Wang Graylin

The interesting thing about this piece of news is how similar the internet cafe market is here in the Philippines – a lot of gamers and PC users don’t own their own PCs or at least prefer to congregate at these cafe locations for collaborative games, be it multiplayer or not. A recent article by ChinaDaily comments on the resurgence of the internet cafe culture on the back of the popularity of e-sports. Internet cafe culture here on the other hand, has never really died out – a real positive for us gamers and future VR users.

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An internet cafe in Wang’Yu, China

Some indicators of the VR trend already bubbling up locally are the multiple “VR experiences” that are popping up in malls and amusement centers – they’re cheap reproductions of what real VR served by actual HMDs like the Vive would be like, but many are still trying them out and coming away either excited, exhilarated, or nauseated (from motion sickness). At least, that’s what I saw.

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I was one of those eager to try out the elaborate-looking contraption, and I paid P200 for the chance. When my turn came, I chose a roller-coaster type experience from a list of experiences that included some android stuff I’ve seen months before – not a good indicator. Regardless, I went in expecting it to be a transformative experience, but I came away disappointed – the simulated movement copied the in-headset motion closely enough, but the standard problems inherent in mobile-type VR cropped up here as well – unsynchronized frames, jerky movement, low-resolution graphics and a lack of actual interaction.

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Just some of the “experiences” available for the 9D experience. Note the older Android apps.

I was disappointed, but then again I’ve already gotten to experience the Vive’s smooth gameplay, and that was to be expected. For an initial introduction, these kinds of experiences would serve as good comparison to how good the actual HMDs are.

Granted, internet cafes in China reflect their more affluent populace, with extravagant cafes the norm instead of the small corner internet cafes usually found locally, and with the Vive pricing currently somewhere between prohibitive and ruinous, it might be some time before cafe VR takes off here. But I live in permanent optimism. Local VR cafes will be a fun experience.

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