Gaming Virtual Reality: Selling What’s More Real Than Real

Virtual reality took the tech world by storm in the 2010s, but many customers didn't understand without direct experience of the technology. Discover how marketers respond to this dilemma.

Virtual Reality | Source: Jessica Lewis,
Source: Jessica Lewis,

Since the dawn of the industry, video games have been positioned as worlds for players to lose themselves in. These are places to go after a long day at school or work that can feel just as real as our very own, while incorporating aesthetics and ideas that don’t quite fit into ours. Headsets in the gaming virtual reality space aim to bring that aspiration into more vivid, picturesque clarity. 

When the first commercial VR headsets were announced, the VR industry seemed like a venture capitalist’s dream. Here was a brand new market in the billion dollar gaming industry ripe for the tapping—and one which showed potential for cross-pollination to other domains of life, like real estate and the fine arts.

Oculus’ Gaming Virtual Reality Quest

But when the first commercial VR hardware hit the market in 2016, it quickly became clear that VR in the home would have some growing pains. First generation VR headsets were clunky, requiring beefy computers. However, Oculus’ wireless Quest headset and particularly its newest iteration—the Quest 2—aimed to solve this key problem.

By cutting the cord, lowering the visual fidelity, and shrinking the device down (along with the price point), the Quest quickly became a must-have VR commodity. So it’s no surprise then that when you visit their website, mentions of the Quest 2 are papered across nearly every facet of their landing page. 

Comparatively, higher-end Rift series of headsets, requiring a cable connection to the PC, have almost been completely excised from the Oculus landing page. Oculus knows they can lean into the Quest 2 as the bread-and-butter of their sales drivers. On the other hand, the Rift is surplus to requirements.

Learn why the best return on your marketing dollar comes from copywriting.

Gaming Virtual Reality Gaining Steam

Valve’s current VR solution is the Index, which, in addition to its sophisticated controllers and headsets, requires linking up with a series of base stations to provide the ultimate room-scale VR play experience. Its premier kit will set you back a grand. 

Aside from their past video game offerings, Valve is best known by core gamers as the company behind the Steam marketplace, which is by far the most popular platform for purchasing PC games. They know their audience is highly engaged with Steam, and actually sell the Index through that very same storefront. That means they control the profit share. 

Valve knows they have the core gaming audience in the palm of their hands; they really don’t need to do much marketing, because their audience already lives in their house. 

Virtual Reality | Source: Jessica Lewis,
Source: Jessica Lewis,

Sony Interactive Entertainment

Conversely, Sony went heavy on pushing their PlayStation VR headset—which was compatible with the PlayStation 4. While clunky, the PSVR was something of a half-step to where Oculus got with the Quest: a sleek-looking headset, capable enough, but without requiring hyper-expensive hardware to operate. It moved over five million units.

The company is preparing their next-generation VR headset which will be compatible with the already mega-successful PlayStation 5. Together with the DualSense controller’s haptic feedback and reactive triggers, PlayStation are primed to deliver an even more immersive gaming VR experience for people on a budget.

MarketSmiths Case Study

A data platform for financial traders, TrendSpider used clever AI technology to boost performance and make day trading more effective. Unfortunately, its old website buried the platform’s true value in industry jargon. Unfazed, MarketSmiths dove headfirst into the industry specifics. We combined targeted questions with platform demos, research, and even a brief foray into day trading. All this hard work soon paid off. TrendSpider’s finished website threads wit through reason, enticing visitors to explore all the platform has to offer—while its ingenious use of AI are getting traders to return time and time again.

> Read the full study

Making the virtual real

It’s difficult to sell people on the vision for gaming virtual reality without speaking in platitudes. A common observation about the technology is that you can’t fully explain what it’s like—you have to experience it for yourself. Companies try, and many get close: peruse any VR game trailer and you’ll typically see lots of minute head movements and granular finger movements that simply aren’t possible with a typical game controller. These kinds of things get the mind racing.

But the meat of VR marketing comes from words, from testimonials. You won’t understand until you try it, they tend to say. It’s a notion which can put serious FOMO in audiences’ heads. They know something I don’t, and the only way for me to know is to strap myself into one of these things and experience it for myself

What gets people onboard with gaming virtual reality is the aspirational idea of truly being somewhere that’s not actually reachable. It’s an extension of the core appeal of video games: that there’s a world just beyond the screen, if only you could reach in and touch it. 

This marketing approach based on selling the artificial made real will continue unabated, especially as headset resolutions and body-tracking become more granular. As the real, globalized world feels smaller and smaller, we will continue to look for new ways to truly feel present in places, and with characters, that give us that sensation of something more looming just over the horizon.

Looking to immerse yourself in a universe of crisp, powerful copy? Look no further than the out-of-this-world writing team at MarketSmiths!

Devin Raposo

Devin Raposo

Forever curious, Devin writes to learn. Before becoming a ‘Smith, he studied as a software engineer while honing his craft writing short fiction as well as acerbic cultural critique in the arts space.

More from MarketSmiths

Badvertising: Flag Flap

Beware of dead flat copy

The Zombie Noun Apocalypse (and How to Fight Back)

ChatGPT isn't as good as MarketSmiths.

6 Times ChatGPT Fell Short of the MarketSmiths Standard for Copywriting

hispanic health care marketing

Hispanics, Hospitals, and Health Care: Does Your Website Copy Speak to Latinos?

Inc 5000 content agency

M/WBE certified enterprise.

Design by WorstOfAllDesign. Digital Strategy by MadPipe. Photography by Chellise Michael.