What's Holding The VR Gaming Industry Back?

In an ever-changing gaming industry where innovation and creativity are the key to success, Virtual Reality (VR) lives as an outlier. Despite offering unparalleled immersive experiences and providing players with new and unique opportunities to interact with distant worlds, some mainstream studios simply don’t feel it’s the right time to commit resources to AAA VR development.

So what’s holding them back from a technical point of view?

Developing VR games presents a unique set of challenges that go beyond the complexities of traditional game creation. The necessity for developers to construct fully immersive 3D environments, along with the integration of spatial audio and 6DoF, demands a higher level of expertise and resources. Unlike flat screen games, where developers can rely on established perspectives and simpler interaction models, VR requires a comprehensive understanding of spatial design and user interaction within a three-dimensional space. Additionally, ensuring compatibility with various VR hardware and managing the increased computational demands for real-time rendering and physics simulations adds layers of complexity and cost. These factors make VR game development a more daunting task for studios, requiring specialised skills (and the staff to bring them), advanced technology, and a commitment to overcoming the unique challenges of bringing virtual worlds to life.

The question is, is it worth the extra effort?

The VR industry still presents a pretty small commercial opportunity in comparison to the mainstream. With less than 6% of the British population owning a VR headset (Statista, 2023) versus at least 60% owning an alternative gaming device. It would be easy to say that any game developer looking to make some quick money should target the latter market, but that fails to take into account the fact that VR is proliferating at record pace.

The smaller market presents the unique opportunity to establish a firm foothold before it becomes oversaturated. Studios like Resolution Games (Cook-Out, Blaston, Ultimechs) and Vertigo (Arizona Sunshine, After The Fall) have have already cemented themselves as key players in the industry, with no signs of slowing down.

Tech Giants like Meta and Apple are already in the process of creating more accessible consumer grade VR headsets, and despite the relatively slow adoption process thus far, it’s clear that the popularity of VR is on the rise. With predictions placing industry growth at around 10% per year, studios and developers should certainly begin to look to the future.

VR Gaming - is it the future?

Yes… but also no

VR gaming will never (or at least not for the foreseeable future) replace flat screen gaming. But they are not at odds with each-other. In the same way that Movies and Games aren’t opposites, VR presents a new and unique opportunity to immerse yourself in powerful stories, learning experiences and adventures in a way that flat screens aren’t able to replicate.

The medium will only continue to grow, even beyond gaming. With all major film festivals now hosting XR award categories and exhibitions, and virtual reality teaching & training becoming increasingly present in various fields, gaining an early foothold in the industry can only lead to positive things. The same skills and technologies that apply to VR game development are required for all other branches of the medium, so we can confidently assume that anyone looking to build a career in the business has a lot to look forward to!

Want to give VR a go?

Book in now to experience it for yourself, or head to our Island Page to see the full list of VR games available!


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