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Survey: Developers prefer Vive to Oculus, but worry about nausea, high price of VR gear

Virtual reality has the potential to reshape the entire gaming industry, but its early days for the technology. A recent survey by the UBM Game Network, which runs the Virtual Reality Developer’s Conference, GDC, and polled VR developers on their preferred platforms, game development plans, and long-term confidence in the medium.

The first surprise was that game developers prefer the HTC Vive over the Oculus Rift, though the gap between the two is fairly small, at 5.4 percentage points. This question allowed for more than one answer, which is why the percentages add up to well over 100%.


There are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating this data. First, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are Windows-specific, while Google Cardboard and GearVR are both Android-only. There are third-party utilities and some workarounds to get some Windows games working in VR on Samsung’s headset, but nothing officially supported by Samsung itself. PlayStation VR is a minority interest, at least among the developers Gamasutra surveyed. There are 19 games currently listed on Sony’s PlayStation VR site, but only seven of them are launch titles for the platform’s debut. We may see increased developer interest if the PSVR sells well.


Asked which platform they would support with their next title, developers didn’t give Oculus a lot of positive news, though the survey notes that “a large number of respondents skipped answering this question.” Developers, it seems, are very bullish on the potential for VR (upwards of 95% thought VR and AR were a sustainable growth market), but not sure they’ll continue to pump their own funds into it. It’s not hard to see why — another survey question reveals that nearly 50% of VR developers are currently self-funded. Current success will be critical to kick-starting a larger ecosystem and attracting development dollars.

Most of the developers surveyed (78.1%) said that they would create content for multiple platforms rather than accepting some type of vendor lock-in or exclusivity. The survey didn’t specify time frames, which means developers could have answered the question thinking that the exclusivity was temporary or permanent.

Developers identified the same major hurdles between widespread VR adoption and the current state of technology that we’ve written about over the past few years. Nausea and cost are critical barriers to VR’s overall success — if a game makes people sick, or costs thousands of dollars to allow a family to play together, it’s not going to fly. Killer apps are also seen as a must-have, and again, Sony’s PSVR is seen as essential.

“AR is more viable for mass market adoption than VR since it can be done with phones (eg Pokemon Go) while VR will continue to have to figure out a balance for hardware,” one respondent wrote. “I predict that pre-built standard computers will eventually become the norm for VR because of the convenience to the consumer (like consoles). If Sony’s PSVR takes off it could shape the future of this technology a lot.”

Locomotion was also named as a key problem facing the VR market. Solutions exist, but for now the problem of managing player movement is critical to creating games in VR space. This is a non-trivial issue — movement was one reason why Kinect never took off, along with a lack of buttons or any ability to interface with one’s surroundings. Room-scale VR requires substantial dedicated space, and there’s no standard or agreed-upon solution for managing the issue.

Obviously it’s still early days for the VR industry, and we’ll see developer opinions continue to change and evolve as games and platforms ship. Still, it’s interesting to see the importance attached to Sony’s push into VR, as well as the focus on the HTC Vive over the cheaper, heavily hyped Oculus Rift.

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