HTC updated its Viveport and VR Ad SDKs with support for achievements, leaderboards, and in-app purchases. The company said these features will allow VR developers to improve their products, learn more about their users, and use the new monetization options to bring in a little extra cash.
All the new features work like you would expect--achievements, leaderboards, and microtransactions have been part of mobile, console, and PC gaming for a while. The primary difference is that you'll experience these features in VR. HTC said the features are currently limited to developers using the Viveport SDK and Unity game engine, but the company also said it's working to bring them to the Unreal Engine, too. At this rate we'll soon wake up in an episode of Black Mirror where everything is gamified and monetized to the fullest possible extent.
The VR Ad SDK is devoted to something else common to basically all computing experiences: advertising. This is what HTC said about the VR Ad SDK in its blog post:
Currently only available for apps and games distributed in China in this early launch phase, the SDK allows for ads to engage with a user without compromising the experience. With detailed tracking and verifiable impressions, the VR Ad Service aims to maximize ad revenue. [...] We are continuing to add more developer tools and resources as well as improve existing features. We have more to share in the future so stay tuned!
The company also thanked all the developers who signed up for the Viveport subscription service that debuted earlier this month. The service's premise is simple--buying an HTC Vive and the PC required to use it costs more than a pretty penny. Now, instead of having to purchase games for that platform, you can pay a monthly subscription fee to gain access to participating VR experiences. It costs $7 per month and provides access to five games. That's not bad, but it is more restrictive than other games subscriptions services like PlayStation Now and the upcoming Xbox Game Pass.
You can learn more about the Viveport SDK and the VR Ad Service on HTC's developer website. We're interested in seeing how developers respond to these new capabilities. On the one hand, social features like achievements and leaderboards are popular for a reason, as are in-app or in-game purchases. On the other, it would be a shame for people to think of VR as more of the same because all those features are available on basically every technology they use on a daily basis. We suppose we'll see when devs get their hands on these tools and decide if they want to use them.