Virtual reality headsets have yet to truly take off as an alternative to consoles. However, with Samsung, Sony, Valve and Oculus all developing new VR headsets, 2016 could be the year that VR takes off in the game industry. A new Game Developer Conference survey highlights that 16% of developers are developing VR titles.
Both Nintendo and SEGA dabbled with virtual reality in the 1990s. SEGA brought out a VR headset for arcades, but the company cancelled a Genesis headset. Nintendo also launched the Virtual Boy, with red 3D graphics, but the console flopped. Consequently, neither forays into virtual reality reaped a fruitful harvest. It might have been just a little too early for effective virtual reality.
However, now some of the foremost companies in the industry are once again developing new VR hardware. The Oculus Rift will be launching in March and the PlayStation VR in the first half of 2016. Even Google might also be developing a new virtual reality device.
So it’s not much of a surprise that this latest GDC survey has further highlighted the rise of VR. Last year the survey highlighted that 7% of developers have been developing VR games, and that figure has now jumped up to 16%.
The study also highlighted that the Oculus Rift has the most developer support at the moment. About 19% of the developers stated they are making a game for Oculus Rift. In comparison, 8% are developing titles for the Gear VR; and about 6% of the developers have games in development for the PlayStation VR and HTC Vive.
Only 27% of the respondents doubted that VR could ever match the console install base. About 44% of the developers stated that VR could match that install-base by 2026. The vast majority of the developers, amounting to 75%, stated that virtual reality would become a sustainable business. It wasn’t in the ’90s, but now that might no longer be the case.
As such, virtual reality is undoubtedly making considerable headway in the industry. It will be interesting to see which of the upcoming VR headsets makes the biggest splash. With greater developer support and a March launch date, the Oculus Rift could gain a lead on the other alternatives.