Is Developing Games for Virtual Reality Worth It?
The other day I was talking to one of my friends about a new booming business in the US known as “Escape Rooms”. It got me thinking; “Why aren’t we making VR rooms for these types of businesses. Escape rooms are the just beginning of commercial uses for Virtual Reality headsets. Currently one of the biggest issues and concerns for developing for VR HMDs or Head Mount Displays is that you have to be connected to a computer at all times. Which limits the amount of space someone can actually interact with your game. Another issue with that wired connection is the fear, the fear that you or someone might fall or walk too far out of reach causing tension on the link setup which could damage your tech. The technology required to run a VR setup varies, but our set up costs us close to 2k just to get it up and running. If that number is constantly in the back of your head it’s hard to become “fully” immersed with one of these VR HMDs on, knowing that tripping over a cable could cost you hundreds of dollars.
The cool thing about developing for VR is that it’s VR! It’s a new technology and developers are scrambling to determine what are the best ways to create games for these peripheral devices. The VR industry offers lots of room for innovation for smaller indie companies like ourselves; while at the same time it reduces the competition for market share while these companies are all-competing for the same small audience. The market for HTC Vive is mostly Steam users or gamers who use Steam to get access to VR games. Which is nice because it’s easy to monitor new titles, and see which titles are succeeding and which ones are not. For an indie studios this means we have the potential to create a big name for ourselves, as there aren’t that many game available, but more importantly there aren’t that many AAA and amazing titles available yet.
So yeah, the start up cost for development is very pricey, the size of our target audience is very small compared to console gamers and regular PC gamers. But at the end of the day we have to consider that this technology is growing in popularity and accessibility. If we just stay true towards Moore’s Law about emerging technologies, than it’s safe to say one day VR HMDs will be affordable for the average gamer. At that point in the future, I’ll be glad to say we started developing for VR HMDs back in 2016, because by then we will be considered experts in our field. Developing video games is always risky, but at least if our games don’t sell we can say we have experience and knowledge of developing for next-gen games. Being an indie developer is about making great games, and becoming a better developer after each game. If making a game VR is going helpful fulfill that goal, then I say go for it!