When it comes to choosing a games console the decision is typically made based on what your friends play and which console has the titles you like the most. With VR it’s a little different. No one is playing anything right now and there aren’t many titles around either. Instead, the wise future investor should look at which platform most developers are supporting. In this case, it’s Oculus Rift by a fair margin, but the word “supporting” here probably isn’t such a good word to use as “planning to support”.
A new report from the 2016 Game Developers Conference (GDC) shows that of all the virtual reality options around, developers are most willing to get behind Facebook’s Oculus Rift. The only problem is that support is one thing, activity is another. Despite being the most popular VR platform of all, less than one in five game devs is actually working on a game for the platform.
The GDC report surveyed 2,000 attendees at its annual conference and 77% of them had tried Rift. A further 46% had tired Google Cardboard and 36% Samsung Gear VR. Given Oculus Rift’s existence in various Developer Editions for years now, this spike in familiarity is understandable, as is Google’s ultra-affordable VR solution.
But for all that experience with VR, only 16% of the surveyed developers are actually working on a VR game at present. That figure is up from just 7% last year, but it’s still a long way from where the industry needs to be if the first major consumer VR headsets are going to arrive with a quality assortment of games available to play on them. Of the developers currently working on a VR game, Oculus Rift was more popular than both of its nearest competitors combined (the Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard, which were tied for second place).
Despite 75% of game devs agreeing that VR is here to stay, more than two-thirds of them are either not developing for VR right now or don’t plan to in the near future. Of course, once the first consumer-level VR headsets hit the market this year and developers get a better sense of their popularity, VR games with blossom, but until then it might be slim pickings when looking for something good to play.
As one GDC attendee commented: “I think the immediate future will be a bit rocky. There might be a lull in the interest in VR/AR, but once developers find out what experiences are best for this technology – and when technology improves and becomes more affordable and accessible – I believe it will be adopted on a much wider scale.”
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For anyone expecting VR to burst onto the scene in a massive way this year, you might want to lower your expectations. Even if the hardware is ready now, it will take time to produce a quality canon of VR games across all platforms, especially for the less popular ones, just as it did with console games and Android. In a more positive part of the survey results, when asked how long they thought it would take for VR to be in 10% of households, two-fifths of developers think it will happen by 2020 and 86% said by 2030.
Have you tried VR yet? How long do you think it will take to go “mainstream”?