Sunday 22 January 2017

Why do indie developers make games for VR?

In my time lurking on a few Internet communities, I've noticed that a surprising number of indie developers develop for - and by extension stake their livelihood on - VR.
A lot of the time, the reason for this is quite simply that they want to get into the VR market early, before it is flooded with interactive refuse in the same way as the Steam store. I understand this to some degree, but it's an argument balanced out by the incredibly niche market.

The real confusion stems from the question, "Why the hell would you ever decide to become financially dependant on selling a game for a highly experimental platform?"

As an indie developer, money is almost never disposable. Even in the most successful cases, the developers of the game "N" are still making barely enough to get by.

Of course, there's the argument that an indie developer feels that their artistic intent is best expressed through a VR experience, which is fine. I am a firm believer than just about any medium is a suitable medium for something.

According to statistics from Horizon Media, about 36% of the American population are interested in owning a VR headset as of 2016.

Only 24% of people are willing to pay over $250 for a VR headset, which should be immediately alarming for prospective VR developers. When a third of even the potential audience are turned off by a price lower than any VR headset being sold as of right now(the cheapest I could find was priced at $400, the Playstation VR), there's a problem.

Some more statistics from the Pew Research Center indicate that approximately 49% of adults play video games on any platform. If I do the math, that means that only 73% of adults who play video games are interested in trying VR, and only 48% are interested in spending over $250 dollars to do so.

Even with these grim figures, keep in mind that a large number of these people will still never buy a VR device. The ones that do may only play a handful of games on it.

The market that indie VR developers are trying to reach is very sparse, but the lack of competition on the market is immediately balanced by the fact that the audience for VR games is incredibly small.

I may or may not be bitter about being unable to try VR because of chronic migraines triggered by eye strain.

And if you have been, thanks for reading.

stay tuned

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