So, your team developed a game and/or experience for the Oculus Rift at some point in the three years since it’s consumer debut. How’d that workout? ‘Middling’ at best would be my suspicion, as it’s no secret that the virtual reality (VR) industry is growing at a slower rate than many expected. However, it is growing, and the forthcoming Oculus Quest is likely to boost that even further. So, is it worth the additional investment to take advantage of this new hardware?
A number of high-profile developers have already signed-up to bring their existing VR titles to Oculus Quest. The likes of Moss from Polyarc Games, The Exorcist: Legion VR by Fun Train and Wolf & Wood, I Expect You to Die by Schell Games, Racket Fury: Table Tennis VR from Pixel Edge Games, Owlchemy Labs’ Job Simulator: The 2020 Archives and Vacation Simulator, Fast Travel Games with Apex Construct and Beat Games’ hugely successful Beat Saber will all be coming to the Oculus Quest within the head-mounted display’s (HMD’s) launch ‘window’. In fact, there’s a whole tribe of more than 50 titles will be available for Oculus Quest on launch day. But what about your game?
These developers are incredibly enthusiastic about the forthcoming launch. Michaela Dvorak, Head of Marketing at Beat Games, stated in the company’s press materials: “Playing Beat Saber on Oculus Quest allows you to make literally any move you want… You can easily add that extra dance move, and that feeling when you don’t have to watch out for any cables is priceless. I’m a big fan of Rift, but Beat Saber on [Oculus] Quest is a whole new level of experience! Visuals look absolutely stunning, gameplay is smooth and polished, and tracking is just great. Watching the game evolve on this platform was pretty exciting.”
That sounds great, doesn’t it? But of course, Beat Games would be enthusiastic in press materials as the studio has already put in the work to bring Beat Saber to Oculus Quest! For developers there’s two key factors that should be considered when decided whether or not to port their titles over: development costs and potential audience.
The first aspect will likely have been covered by most studios already. Oculus has taken considerable effort to ensure that the porting process is as straight-forward as possible, however it will require the implementation of new controller configurations and other assets. Plus, potentially, a whole new load of bug fixes. The time required here will depend on the complexity of your experience, but the potential investment has to be weighed up against the potential revenue.
That potential revenue is likely to follow a similar pattern to the Oculus Rift at launch: a burst on day one followed by a significant slowdown and a gradual increase. The day-one adopters will be ready, wallets-open, to pick-up many of the titles they were stand-offish about on the Oculus Rift, but after the rush what will come next? I’m happy to put my name to the prediction that Oculus Quest sales will be slow but steady until this year’s holiday season.
Q4 2019 is when the Oculus Quest will show its true strength. There are no major hardware launches lined-up for this year’s holiday season (despite the rumours that Sony are preparing an unexpected 2019 drop for the PlayStation 5) and by that time retailers will have assessed the value of the product. There’ll likely be bundles including software available for that $349 USD price tag encouraging ‘complete’ high-end VR experience purchases as gifts. That’s a good thing; not just for the packaged games, but also any developers ready to put their Oculus Quest titles in front of newcomers to the VR scene.
I’m passing along our Oculus Connect thoughts and a few Oculus Quest/VR projections, courtesy of SuperData’s principal analyst Carter Rogers. Feel free to use anything you find helpful.
“We project the Oculus Quest will sell north of 1M units [this] year,” stated Carter Rogers, SuperData’s Principal Analyst. “Oculus Go has done well so far, selling 289K units in Q2. However, its appeal to gamers has been limited due to a lack of full hand tracking. Oculus Quest is a potentially compelling game device and we estimate that revenue from standalone VR games overall will triple from 2018 to 2019.”
A potential audience of 1 million new users, as well as that existing Oculus Rift and the forthcoming Rift S consumers? That seems like a pretty easy sell to me. The basic takeaway here is that if your studio remains invested in its VR software catalogue and there’s an opportunity to update your titles for the Oculus Quest, you’re likely to find an audience willing to pay for your effort. However, time is not the determining factor: there’s no shame in playing the waiting game and holding out for that bigger audience late in 2019.