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NDreams's Patrick O'Luanaigh on why you should be supporting both Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR

Discount mobile VR at your peril
NDreams's Patrick O'Luanaigh on why you should be supporting both Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR

Patrick O'Luanaigh wants to end the snobbery directed towards mobile VR.

Taking the stage at Pocket Gamer Connects London's Future Visions: VR and AR track, he makes his position immediately clear: developers should support both Gear VR and Google Cardboard.

O'Luanaigh refers to Superdata research suggesting that mobile will lead the way in VR in the immediate future, boasting nearly 80 per cent of the market share.

Backing the right horse

"Google Cardboard isn't a bad experience by any means, just simpler. It's designed to be the entry point, the first experience of virtual reality," he says.

While his clear message to all developers is that, when possible, you should make games that support both headsets, O'Luanaigh does offer some comparison between the two.

Google Cardboard apps are still within the wider Google Play store, making for a storefront dominated by free-to-play and with little discoverability extremely difficult. On the plus side, good VR experiences in that store are harder to come by.

The Gear VR storefront, on the other hand, offers curated content and is dominated by premium games.

"It's a lot easier to be discovered on the Gear VR, but there's much more competition as top mobile developers shift into VR," he explains.

Why choose?

So, what easy steps can VR developers take to support both devices? O'Luanaigh suggests standardised inputs, such as gaze, rather than relying on Bluetooth controllers that may be incompatible with low-end headsets.

It's often suggested that Google Cardboard is designed for shorter VR experiences, with its notable lack of any strap, but O'Luanaigh's data has suggested otherwise.

While the average mobile game session length is around the six to eight-minute mark, metrics from NDreams' mobile VR games reveal average playtime of 10 to 20 minutes.

"It's not a snackable thing, you don't snack on VR games."

Either way, O'Luanaigh's message is clear: discount mobile VR at your peril particularly the Google Cardboard - that low price-point and ability to give away in large numbers means sudden spikes in user numbers are not unprecedented.