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VR is cool, but currently lacks commercial viability say our Indie Mavens

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VR is cool, but currently lacks commercial viability say our Indie Mavens

There's a lot of noise around virtual reality headsets at the moment. 

In the past few months alone, we've seen Vrvana jump into the ring with its Totem VR headset, Intel Capital invest $28 million into Chinese wearable tech start-ups, the announcement of the Archos VR Glasses and the Merge Goggles VR.

Optics manufacturer Carl Zeiss has also stepped up to the mark with the VR One, and Lenovo has set up an entire company that focuses on developing wearable tech, while also revealing a Google Glass rival in New Glass for Chinese markets.

Alongside the Oculus Rift and Samsung's Gear VR, that's a lot of money and time being invested in VR hardware and wearable tech. But who is making the software for it, and more specifically, the games? Do game developers see the same potential in VR as these tech start-ups and hardware companies do?

To give us some insight into these questions, we turned to our Indie Mavens to find out what they make of virtual reality, and to find out if they were looking at creating games for it themselves.

We threw a two-part question at them for the occasion:

"Are you interested in creating games for VR and why? If not, what do you think might make you change your mind?"

 

Pavel Ahafonau Co-founder Happymagenta

 

I've already have some ideas for VR in mind. Some only have become possible with new VR glasses - not just another viewport into a standard 3D game.

I've tried Oculus a few times - the headset and feelings it gives are more than just great.

Shawn Allen Founder Nuchallenger

I am really interested in VR. I think it's a great place for experimentation and the sense of existing in the world is spectacular even with the 1st generation of Oculus.

Looking to the future?

In fact I worked on a narrative heavy piece for the Indiecade Oculus Jam with another local dev and we want to keep working on it.

Problem is I don't necessarily see a market for it money-wise, so I have to keep working on my "to sell" game and when I have some time, work on the passion "it should exist because VR is cool" game as well .

Vadim Starygin Founder Elite Games

3D development is kinda expensive procces. But I guess SuperHot will be blast if set as a VR game.

Nicolas Barrière Designer Double Stallion

It is a very interesting new medium, but its commercial viability is so incredibly uncertain at this point. Great to see investments from large players to develop market-ready models, but adoption by either niche or mass market is the key in long term.

It doesn't help also that development is exclusively restricted to 3D, requiring talent and costs that not all indies can provide.

But on the flipside, I am super excited by all the wonderful short games I've played so far at various events or see popping up weekly on the web. More small VR games! Please!

Yann Seznec Founder Lucky Frame

I'm not sure I have much to add, apart from a fun fact: Roflpillar came out of a bunch of discussions we had about VR, in particular how it is such a single-person game experience.

Chris Priestman Writer Steel Media Ltd

I agree that VR lacks commercial viability, and yeah, it's great for experimental projects. It's a shame that there isn't a cross-over space there yet.

Saying that, that's the same issue on other platforms and has been for a while. That's why I find it slightly odd that there have been quite a few tech companies creating their own VR headsets - it seems like it won't have a big customer base, at least, not yet.

Jon Ingold Creative Director inkle

Jon's focus is on content, working from the initial outline, through the development of the authoring tools, to the writing and scripting of final content.

Previously, Jon was a lead designer at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, and before that a secondary school teacher, so he loves to talk. He's a published author of short stories and over a decade's worth of award-winning interactive fiction.

 

VR raises the minimum standard of art/animation required.
Jon Ingold

VR is certainly intriguing, but it seems to raise the minimum standard of art/animation required for it to really work, which is a pretty solid barrier to entry.

And I wonder how much worse the Uncanny Valley effect will become. I've not yet tried any VR games that put other human beings - either other players or NPCs - into the game with you, but I suspect when people try it'll really bring home how limited your interactions with game characters usually are.

Imagine a dialogue menu in a VR-Mass Effect; it'd feel like being gagged. And then do you listen to an actor reading out the dialogue that you're saying?

Are Mass Effect-type games good candidates for VR?

Right now, I can't see how VR games can do characters or dialogue successfully, so while they'll make for great ways to explore virtual spaces I'm not sure it's something we'll be looking at any time soon.

Richard Perrin Owner Locked Door Puzzle

I added VR support to an existing game (Kairo) and although a lot of players seemed to really like the support it did make me realise some of the limitations of VR and how it supports some games better than others.

Although I love the technology I think I agree that it''s hard to pin a business model on it right now. It's a shame the arcade industry is not what it once was because I feel like it makes more sense where the player is paying for the experience not buying the hardware outright.

Great tech, bad business model

Ultimately even though we've had Oculus around for some years now I still think it's too early to tell where this is all going. I think a combination of the advancements they're making along with the continued miniaturisation of tech into wearable items means this could all be completely different in 5 years time.

I think in the meantime we're going to get a lot of cool smaller projects and the VR market will be a niche that impresses but doesn't bring in big money.

With an affinity for eccentricity, as well as anything macabre or just plain weird, Chris searches for the games that fly under the radar. If you ask him, anything can be a game. Oh, and a game can be about anything, if you put enough thought into it. So, there.

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