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The Golden Age of VR

Let's be honest, VR games are no where near as impressive as 2D games, especially AAA games made with big money. VR has a long way to go, hundreds of millions of users to adopt, and massive leaps in mobile hardware or streaming solutions before it can compete with existing 2D video games on console and PC.

AAA Studios can't even consider developing for VR just yet; financially it doesn't make any sense. These big companies need to move tens of millions of units to make a profit, and without a sizable market they would certainly lose a ton of money.

However, this lack of big money in VR creates a golden opportunity for indie developers.

This reminds me of 2010, back when smartphones became widely adopted and indie developers were jumping on the new market while it was small. Games like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and Tiny Wings showed the world that this was indeed a ripe, new video game market. Indie devs were scrambling to make the next one-button, mobile game addiction. The best part is that people loved these games, indie devs had a window to make something amazing that would be appreciated by millions.

It did not last long. By 2014 the mobile game market was over saturated, and without an amazing marketing campaign, indie games were lost in an ocean of apps.

Things look a little different in VR, but there are still a lot of similarities, and a ton of opportunities for indie devs. even though Mobile VR is the second wave to hit the shelves, it's probably the tsunami of the industry. It's likely to keep selling and keep growing.

One interesting thing to note about getting into mobile VR development right now is that the new mobile hardware has completely shaken up the VR world. Many early VR titles were developed for PC VR, requiring an expensive computer to power the headsets. Consequently, these titles have had a really hard time porting their games to the much lighter mobile headsets, if at all. This means that early adopters of VR are looking enviously at the new mobile headsets flying off the shelf. Although indie devs starting now have missed the first three or four years of development, they are actually starting at a great time, and don't have to struggle with downsizing their game to run on a mobile headset.

Developing for mobile VR is a lot more difficult than PC VR, however, it requires much more stringent performance considerations and will push the rookie developer to their limits. Catching this second wave of hardware now does mean you can scale your game with the rapidly improving VR technology, and not have to go backwards.

I'd estimate that this golden age of indie VR development will last another four years. By 2025 the VR market will either be over saturated with games, or AAA studios will step in with their big titles and drastically change the space - the third wave.

On the bright side, when AAA studios step in, all the indie devs that have been making VR for years will laugh as the big studios flounder with the basics of VR locomotion and interaction, making all the mistakes we've been learning from for years.

While I don't want to see the market turn into a monopoly for big studios, I do want to see VR grow. I hope that indie devs can establish their games before the third wave of VR hits.

For now, lets enjoy the space that we have and make some amazing titles!


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