HTC is giving users of its Vive virtual reality headset access to a Netflix-like subscription service. Everyone who currently owns a Vive will get a free trial for a month, and the service will cost US $6.99 a month thereafter.
For that price, users will be able to pick out five virtual reality apps at the start of each month, including games and other interactive experiences. The service will be available in a "couple weeks," Rickard Steiber, the company’s senior vice president for virtual reality said during an interview at the Game Developers Conference Monday.
One benefit to consumers is that the subscription will give users an affordable way to try out titles every month, without requiring them to commit to a full retail purchase. The company had 14,000 people say they were interested in such a subscription after HTC announced it at the Consumer Electronics Show last month, Steiber said.
Once it's available, users will have to opt in for their free trial.
Developers also have to opt into the Viveport Subscription service, which will give them roughly $0.84 for each subscriber who picks one of their titles.
The subscription could stand to be a windfall for popular experiences and a boon to consumers who want to try new things in VR without paying full price. Developers also get an opportunity to stand out from the crowd of 1,300 games and other apps available for the Vive by making their titles available through the new service.
Developers could also choose to bring their app to the subscription service for a brief time to give users a taste of what it does, before pulling it to encourage them to buy the full retail version. Developers have to notify HTC 60 days before they want to remove the game, and users will have it removed from their library after that.
The subscription will be available to consumers worldwide. A survey collecting sign-ups for interested users offers a drop-down that supports 32 countries, including the U.S., U.K., China, Japan, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Denmark, Germany, and France. Countries may have different titles available, based on licensing restrictions and developers' choices.
The news came as the company announced pricing for the Vive Tracker hardware, which allows developers to track physical objects in virtual reality by attaching a special gizmo. One tracker costs $99, and they'll be available for developers to purchase on March 27.