Ahead of the 2018 Game Developers Conference in March, the organizer, UBM, has released their sixth annual State of the Game Industry survey, offering insight into the thoughts of some 4,000 game developers. While many developers may not be ready to bet on VR as a foundation for their game dev business, 33% of developers are ‘most interested’ in VR headsets over all other platforms, beating out interest in mobile and even the Xbox One (and One X).
According to those surveyed in the 2018 State of the Game Industry Report (which you can view in full by filling out this form), it would appear that the business reality of the VR market—which has yet to reach a critical mass of users capable of organically supporting medium or larger developers—is plain to see, with a smaller number of developers planning to build for VR on their next project (15%) compared to their current project (19%).
But when it comes to which platforms developers are ‘most interested’ in (which we take to mean from a creative and design standpoint, market suitability notwithstanding), a large share of developers picked VR as their top choice, beating out mobile platforms (smartphones and tablets), the Xbox One (and One X), and others. The only platforms with a greater share of ‘most interested developers’ are the Nintendo Switch (36%), PlayStation 4 (and PS4 Pro) (39%), and PC (59%).
It’s great to have developers interested in developing for VR, but game development is a business as much as it is an art, and business can’t be run on passion alone; until the economics make sense, it’ll be hard for those game developers who are interested in VR to make the leap and bet their next project on VR. And while the vast majority of developers believe that VR/AR will achieve long term sustainability, some have lost hope, according to the survey:
For the past two years, the split [in the belief that VR/AR will achieve long-term sustainability] has been roughly 75 percent “Yes” to 25 percent “No”. However, this year just 71 percent of respondents said “Yes” and 29 percent said “No”, they don’t see VR/AR as a sustainable business.
Most developers surveyed also have a realistic view of how long it might take for VR/AR headsets to achieve widespread adoption:
When we asked our survey respondents when they thought VR/AR headsets would exceed a 10 percent household install base rate in the United States, the most popular answer (31 percent of respondents) was 2021-2022. Next was 2019-2020 with 17 percent of the vote, followed by 2023-2034 with 15 percent.
The 2018 State of the Game Industry survey has further insights into game developers’ opinions on VR/AR, and broader game industry trends; you can access the full report here.