HTC wants to make it easier for Vive owners to find the best virtual reality apps, so it came up with an interesting way to run its store: as a subscription service.
In the next few months, HTC plans to launch a subscription option for its Viveport app store that’ll allow subscribers to use apps, games, and other content without explicitly paying for each item. It’s a neat idea that could make it much easier for subscribers to find things they enjoy, since they’ll be able to try out anything that interests them without committing to a purchase.
Viveport will still support the traditional app store model, where you pay for every app. And critically, developers and content providers will have to opt in to the subscription service, saying that they want their products to be included. If they don’t, subscribers won’t get access.
That’s a big hurdle for HTC, as it’ll need to get a lot of developers signing up in order to make the Viveport subscription worthwhile for customers. That’ll mean offering developers enough of a cut from each subscription that they don’t feel like they’re getting ripped off.
Right now, it’s not clear how the payment model will work. If it’s like the subscription services we’ve seen pop up around ebooks, it could be that HTC will pay developers based on how much their apps and other content get used. That would reward the most successful content, but hurt apps that are only fun for a short time.
HTC is also expanding Viveport to two new audiences: arcades and traditional businesses. An arcade store will let arcade operators find games and other content for visitors to use, while an enterprise store is envisioned to contain apps for “medicine, architecture, design, 3D modeling, and workforce training.” Both are supposed to launch at some point this year.