A survey of game developers attending the annual GDC conference suggests major growth in the number of developers building games for AR and VR headsets.

The 2017 GDC State of the Game Industry report, which gathered data from 4,500 attendees of the annual GDC conference, has been published. Among the insights from the report is that a healthy 39% of respondents are developing titles for AR and VR headsets.

Present AR/VR Focus

With 2016 being the year that major headsets have finally hit store shelves, there’s been major growth in the number of developers focusing on immersive platforms. According to the report, the HTC Vive (25% of respondents) and the Oculus Rift (24%) are leading the pack by a significant margin in terms of which headsets developers are currently developing for, followed by PlayStation VR (13%), right on par with Samsung’s Gear VR (13%).


Future AR/VR Focus

As for the future, development interest in the HTC Vive seems to be growing the most compared to other platforms. 40% of respondents said they expected their next VR/AR project (after the current project) to target the Vive while 37% said the Rift and 26% said PlayStation VR, according to the report.


Among 11% of respondents who said they were working on an AR/VR game that would be exclusive to a single platform, the gap between Vive (33%) and Rift (24%) widened, with PlayStation VR coming in at 15%.

gdc-survey-vr-3Developer Interest in AR/VR Platforms

Actual present or future projects aside, the survey also asked developers what VR/AR headsets interested them most; here the Vive took an even stronger lead, with 45% of developers interested in the Vive, 30% in the Rift, and 29% in PlayStation VR. Interestingly, in terms of interest, Google’s Daydream at 17% of interested respondents, beat out Gear VR at 13%.

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gdc-survey-vr-2Great Majority of Developers See AR/VR as a Sustaining Long-term Business

When it comes to AR/VR as a sustainable business, confidence is high among game developers, with 75% believing that it will be a long-term success as a gaming platform, the figure as last year’s GDC State of the Industry report.

You can download a copy of the full 2017 GDC State of the Game Industry report here, which includes additional AR/VR insights alongside broader games industry.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Hawk1290

    As a Rift owner- I’m glad to see the Vive has a ton of Developer support, they totally deserve it. I’m even more excited to see that there’s now a substantial amount of developers looking into VR/AR projects- that’s the biggest take away for me. It doesn’t matter where it goes- as long as VR sticks around :)

    • Get Schwifty!

      Vive development roughly equals support for Rift and vice-versa. Yes, I know there are controller differences, but for the most part games will work between them.

      • Hawk1290

        Exactly, I’m really happy with my Rift + Touch. I enjoy SteamVR content and I’ll totally support both platforms because they both have great selling points.

    • Aaron

      My understanding is that since Rift supports both Open VR + it’s own proprietary format; while Vive only supports Open VR. Therefore a simple hack should allow any Vive game to run on the oculus.

  • NooYawker

    Why isn’t anyone developing for magic leap?? Just kidding.
    Seriously tho, aside from the controllers, is it really that different to code for the Vive or Oculus? Does a developer have to choose when they start? Obviously I know next to nothing about development.

    • J.C.

      If using Valve’s OpenVR, there’s very little difference to the developer. A few functions need to be mapped differently due to the controllers, but for the most part, it’s not much work to support both.
      Now, if a game is made specifically for Oculus, using their SDK, it’s apparently a HUGE change to get it working on Vive (despite ReVive clearly proving this to be false). But that’s the bullshit devs hide behind when accused of being paid for exclusivity. We all know Oculus is doing this, but devs don’t want to sour their game with Vive owners forever, since they DO want to sell their game to them eventually. I’d rather Oculus just got Vive support natively and I’d happily use their store. Until then, well, they obviously aren’t interested in getting my money.
      Its curious to see that devs are far more interested in the Vive than the Rift. Both are largely the same, with some minor roomscale bonuses toward the Vive, and better controllers on the Rift. Wonder what’s driving the interest?

      • NooYawker

        Your right, revive basically shows it’s not difficult at all to make a game cross platform.
        I think the exclusive nature of the oculus is turning off developers and there’s a general dislike of FB and Zuckerberg. So if you’re going to choose one, why not choose Vive. I don’t think there’s a big gap in sales, I can’t get numbers anywhere.

        • Sam Illingworth

          I’m not sure that’s true. Hacking something into a form that works well enough for most people isn’t the same as providing a proper quality controlled product with consideration of future development too (i.e. Will patches break it, will new features work, etc).

    • benz145

      It’s more about game design than code. The Vive has VR controllers and supports room-scale tracking out of the box. If you’re targeting Vive, then you can reach basically the entire install base by making a game that uses VR controllers and supports room-scale.

      The Rift doesn’t include VR controllers by default, so only a subset of users will have them. Of those users that have VR controllers (Touch), they may be using a front-facing setup, a 360 setup, or a room-scale setup. So if developers want to reach the entire Rift install base, they need to target the lowest common denominator (seated VR with a gamepad), and if they want to target VR controllers, they need to pick which of the various potential setups Rift users might have. Spanning these different possible setups makes it more challenging if you want to make one game that’s great for all of them, or means you need to drill down to a subset of users if you want to make a great game for just one of them.

      • NooYawker

        Makes sense if they’re contemplating the different setups. But if they wanted to make a game that was full on VR, full room scale and touch controllers sounds like it’s not that difficult to make it work on both systems.

      • Get Schwifty!

        I am not convinced that Vive (or Oculus) development means automatically room scale though, I suspect that the more developers that jump on the VR bandwagon there are the more we will see front-facing, seated games since that will be the lowest common denominator. Nothing against room scale whatsoever, but if your a developer that question has to play a role if you wish to support both platforms.

        • MegaButts

          The unofficial numbers suggest the Vive is twice as popular as the Rift, and given how much simpler it is to just assume everybody has room scale and wands, it’s probably a lot easier to just completely ignore the Rift. Everybody I know is developing exclusively for the Vive, and from what I can gather the only exception to this are the game studios taking large checks from Facebook (and rumor has it their next games will all be for the Vive).

          I own neither so I have no horse in the race. Looking from the outside in, it makes no sense to develop for the Rift unless you *want* to do a sit-down forward facing game. Otherwise it just introduces a rat’s nest of problems.

        • JustNiz

          I get your point about playing safe, and corporations seem to almost always choose the lowest common denominator, but it surprisingly doesn’t seem to be actually going that way in VR. Most devs appear to see roomscale as a significant enough experience that most are writing games primarily to take advantage of it, then only also supporting players that can only do seated if it doesn’t also break the gaming experience, which it turns out seems to not be possible that often.

    • JustNiz

      Developing for the Vive really means using OpenVR, which supports both Vive and Rift which basically means Vive development comes with Oculus support almost for free.
      Developing using Oculus’s proprietary API is necessarily gonna limit your product and potential marketplace to only Rift customers, so just from that choice you’re already limiting your potential sales by more than half right from the get-go.

  • Sam Illingworth

    “Among 11% of respondents who said they were working on an AR/VR game that would be exclusive to a single platform, the gap between Vive (33%) and Rift (24%) widened, with PlayStation VR coming in at 15%.”

    That’s surprising isn’t it? You’d think more people developing for Steam VR would be headset agnostic.

    • Mike Handles

      **EDIT** Should have kept reading, others already explained, heh.

      Can a title be developed exclusively for the Vive? I was a little confused by that statement myself. I thought if it were released on Steam it would be accessible by any headset with Steam compatibility..?

      • Yeah the questions are badly phrased and seem to misunderstand how SteamVR works.

    • rabs

      It’s only 11% of respondents, so it means most people are doing multi-plateform dev.

      In percentage of respondents, it’s:

      – 3.63% for Vive- 2.64% for Rift
      – 1.65% for PS VR

      I don’t know why so many for the Vive, as nobody seems to buy exclusivity for it. I guess devs don’t plan to bother with other platforms first, and they want to use room-scale. They’ll probably add Oculus Touch mapping when everything is going smoothly on their main target.
      Or maybe there are some political reasons for some of them.

      • JustNiz

        My guess is partly beacause the minimum configuration for Vive is roomscale support and hand cotrollers. Also because its just a potential customer numbers game: Apart from the fact that Vive is significantly outselling the Rift. Coding for the Oculus API automatically limits your potential sales to just the Rift customers, whereas developing for Vive means Steam/OpenVR which also gives you Rift support (and so Rift users as customers) effectively for free.

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  • JMM21

    I think one point to make is that when it says Valve/HTC it means SteamVR…which the Oculus will play on almost everything even if it doesn’t have Oculus down. So for me at least, the numbers go together.