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Viveport update adds easier in-app purchases to Unity VR games

Why it matters to you

Developers should find it easier to make money with their VR applications and users can enjoy new profiles and leaderboards in Unity games.

Buying updates for your virtual reality game without ever leaving it could become much more commonplace following the latest update for HTC’s Viveport platform. The new Viveport SDK v 1.5.1 lets developers using the Unity engine offer virtual goods and content directly from within the app, alongside new leaderboard and achievement systems.

Viveport is an alternative virtual reality platform to the likes of Steam, for HTC’s Vive VR headset. It has support for all of the same applications but doesn’t have quite the same feature set as the more traditional digital games marketplace. This latest update brings a little more feature parity to the two platforms and helps developers keep gamers immersed, even if they want to buy new content.

Another method of monetization has also been added in this SDK release. Known as the VR Ad system, HTC has enabled in-game advertisements that we’re told, “engage with a user without compromising the experience.” It’s not clear what guise these ads will take, but we do know viewing them can be tracked with “verifiable impressions” to help maximize revenue.

We won’t get to see these ads in action just yet though, as this feature is undergoing trials in China as part of its “early launch phase.” Chances are it will be rolled out to other territories and developers, but that may depend on the response of the community following its introduction.

This update wasn’t just about making more money in VR though. Additional features now available to Unity developers include a new achievement system designed to encourage exploration, a unified leaderboard system for displaying global and local rankings, and the addition of new user profiles. That latter feature is what binds many of the others together, unifying the user’s purchases, scores, and stats under one profile.

Although these new features are only available to developers who are building their VR worlds in the Unity engine, HTC has made it clear that it’s also working on bringing that same level of functionality to the Unreal Engine.

If you’re a Viveport user, don’t forget that the new subscription system lets you download and play five full games a month if you’re willing to pay up. It also offers a one-month free trial, to get you hooked.