Lessons Learned as a VR Developer

Josh Farkas is a writer, illustrator, and VR creator whose indie company Cubicle Ninjas just commercially launched their virtual reality relaxation platform Guided Meditation VR, which won ‘Most Innovative Game’​ at Meaningful Play 2014. Their team has had apps hit #1 in both Steam’s VR category and on Gear VR.

He recently put out a Twitter-storm of excellent advice for developers looking to jump into VR. We’ve compiled those tweets in this handy list.

Pricing:

Steam users are happy to pay for fair priced content. Gear VR users are hesitant to pay for content (free Gear VR apps have more than 10 times the engagement of paid apps. In fact, for every dollar increase, you can divide potential audience by 50%).

Position:

Gear VR app sales are 100% determined by Oculus. They decide position in store (ie the category) and the app’s rank (where it falls in the display). It isn’t random, though the exact formula has never been revealed. The best guess for how they might be operating is revenue vs time spent in app, with the later being biggest factor. With roughly 20 open slots, what happens when Oculus’ has a competing product or partner? Say goodbye to the hope of good positioning in the store.

Steam guarantees a certain number of views, and randomizes those views. It’s so clear it can explained in a tweet with 100 left-over characters.

Audience:

In general, Gear VR users graze across multiple apps, whereas Steam users dine on their favourites. Time spent in-app is five times higher for non-mobile (one potential explanation for that is that phones are much more likely to heat up and cause the user discomfort), and free content will have greater engagement on Gear VR. It will also often produce more media interest, because reviewers see that content as more mainstream.

Because Gear VR audiences are often less VR and technology oriented, they’re much easier to frustrate — mobile UI/UX needs a lot more love. If it doesn’t ‘just work,’ users are more likely to walk away. Based on their review style, it also seems likely that the Gear VR audience is much broader, but also often younger. Plan accordingly.

Dev Support:

The backends of both systems are beautiful and highly functional. The examples are wonderful now as well. A genuine pleasure.

Steam has email support, forums, and best practice guides, and applies these consistently. Oculus doesn’t reply to emails, their forums are odd, best practice guides are outdated, and they’re overall inconsistent in their approach. Many VR developers are too afraid to speak out, however, fearing blow-back on their projects. It is disheartening.

Future:

Both the Gear VR and Vive/Steam are awesome platforms, and both have insanely bright futures.


Originally published at www.hammerandtusk.com.