Virtual reality is crazy. Talk to anyone who’s tried out the Oculus Rift and they’ll tell you it’s something out of science fiction.
It has completely changed game design, tapping into emotions that have previously been out of reach. Noah Falstein, Google’s former Chief Game Designer (we’re big fans here’s a link to his twitter), explains to allure of VR so perfectly so let me paraphrase - VR is more empathetic, allowing you to make real connections with a world that isn’t around you. It gives you an active, intensely personal gaming experience. And this is what it makes it so breathtakingly exceptional.
As it’s an extremely multi-faceted technology, VR is constantly evolving and has yet to reach its full potential. Since 2014, consumer adoption is slowly picking up, surpassing 1 million in sales last year, revealing the three major players that are shaping the industry; Sony with its Playstation VR sets, Facebook-owned Oculus and HTC’s Vive. However it has yet to become a commercial hit and fully enter mainstream culture due the high prices of the headsets.
Okay now for the big question: what does mean for the mobile gaming space?
Short answer: it’s still too early to tell.
Due to the fact audiences are still on the fence about fully committing to the VR experience, game studios are also reluctant to throw themselves behind developing big budget games as, historically they haven’t resulted in record-breaking returns. According to Unity, experienced developers can create quality VR games beginning at $10,000 and depending on the complexity of the game, that cost an increase upwards of $300,000. It still costs a pretty penny and costs can add up pretty quickly.
But here’s the kicker: VR gaming revenue is expected to reach $22.9 billion by the end of 2020, a massive 3,469% increase of 2015 earnings. Yup, that’s right - you read those numbers correctly.
Google, who is clearly aware of the increasing popularity of VR, has already positioned themselves as players in the market as the cheap, accessible option. With the Google Cardboard (it looks like a cardboard box you put on your head), you can access VR games via the Google Play store which is constantly being updated with games primarily designed by indie game studios. They have already shipped over 10 million of its Cardboards and there has been 160 million downloads of their apps, whereby proving there is an audience and they are ready to pay.
While Triple A studios are waiting for VR games to see a true ROI, indie game developers have come to fill in the market. Take a peek inside the App Store and the Google Store, you’ll see a thriving ecosystem of game developers challenging the VR space. We have to thank these studios for the development of virtual reality.
With the expansion of this technology, either it be the games or the Google Cardboard, the audience is always expanding. Younger audiences will need their technology fix and as we see the prices the headsets drop, they’ll be more inclined to join the virtual reality bandwagon. Games will need to start addressing their young audiences and understand their demands. This will inevitably mean a shift in strategy and avoid the pitfalls the mobile gaming space had when it came to regulation regarding in game spending. Virtual reality, since it’s such a relatively new space, has the opportunity to address and understand the problem head on.
What do the younger audiences want? How can we start understanding and addressing these problems now in order to avoid bad press and not completely alienate an audience (parents!)?
Why not get ahead of the curb and start understand that audience now?
At Itavio we can help you with those tools. Download our white paper now to get started.
P. S If you're looking for new VR games, here is a list of the best games:
About The Author: Caroline Corbett-Thompson
Caroline is the Marketing Director at Itavio. You'll find her listening to NPR and scowling 99% of the time.
More posts by Caroline Corbett-Thompson