The Rise of VR Companies in the UK

2016 is the year the global VR industry hit $1billion, but what does this mean for British companies? With Britain holding a prominent place in the global gaming and digital entertainment industries, UK-based companies are at the forefront of VR’s move to the mainstream.

The last year has seen the arrival on the market of a host of new VR technologies, from Google’s budget Cardboard to high-end systems like the Oculus and HTC Vive. For now, the industry is largely being driven by gamers, as the video games industry has been quick to provide support for immersive VR experiences. As the home of some of the gaming industry’s biggest companies, including Rockstar, makers of the Grand Theft Auto series, Britain is perfectly poised to become the epicentre of the VR revolution.

Outside the world of gaming, British companies are also among the first to capitalise on the infinite opportunities offered by VR technology. Small VR studios are popping up all over the country, producing innovative, immersive content designed for a variety of applications.

The same technology that allows gamers to interact with imaginary worlds has also given rise to a whole host of other applications, from allowing property developers to give investors the chance to virtually tour buildings which have yet to be built, to giving schoolchildren the chance to visit far off lands on virtual field trips. As with gaming, British VR companies have been quick off the mark in capitalising on these opportunities.

Software developer The Foundry, who have worked with Pixar, recently commissioned an ongoing survey which so far has found that of 2,590 entertainment and advertising industry professionals, 23.2% are ready to invest in VR tools and expertise. This huge market is set to grow even larger, as more and more industries find uses for VR

The UK government, which has provided incentives to the gaming industry in order to foster growth, plans on taking the same approach with VR. In an interview with creative industry site The Drum, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport John Whittingdale said, ‘I think that virtual reality is without a doubt the future… It is very easy to see the phenomenal opportunities that it offers. It will have a whole host of applications and it is something that I think we are in the lead at. We will look to see what help we will give.’

With Goldman Sachs predicting that the global VR market could reach $80billion by 2025, the potential for UK companies is huge. With innovation and ingenuity at the forefront of VR success, even the smallest companies have a chance to affect the future of an entire industry, and today’s small studios could be 2025’s global brands.

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