As a VR researcher, I have on many occasions found interesting information while looking through the VR community. Recently, after starting to curate a extended VR game list for creating a long term analysis system for popular games, I noticed something that I think is quite interesting. A disproportionately large number of the games I find people still playing in VR and play a lot, all came from late march through april of 2016, the time when the Rift and Vive originally launched, as well as right after GDC 2016. And as games take a while to make, you can easily make the assumption that these developers had the headsets a while before the device launch date. And a large number of those developers got those headsets for free. Could there be more the just general correlation that a developer community full of people who got free headsets created a large number of VR experiences that still are used constantly three years later? Could more data about these games and their developers lead to the possibility of finding scientific proof that VR developers that get free hardware generally make better games. Or could there be even more possibilities like having a curated pre launch developer community make it easier for the software team for the headset had an easier time talking with the developers. If questions like these can get answered to a high enough degree of certainty we might be able to discover the exact proper incentives for the current developer community to create more VR title that stand out in the long run.
Some people might ask why this is even necessary to analyse, and my response is that we do not have very many high quality VR games in general. Based on the game list I am currently creating and a number of other game lists i have seen around the internet over the past 3 years, I would estimate that there are only about 150 total super high quality VR games, and only about 15 AAA equivalent VR games. Now I am only including interactive experiences and not including simple VR game ports, unless the fully implement things that are just for the VR version (so Skyrim VR, and Fallout 4 VR are included). Super high quality games I count as anything that is fun enough to go back to over and over again just because you enjoy something about that game (story, gameplay, world, effects, characters, etc), and would be happy putting more then 30 hours in that game. I judge AAA as it must have a deep detailed story, well implemented characters, a interesting world, at least 10 hours of gameplay to fully complete the whole game (including side quests), and it must be completely polished in terms all of those things working together.
Think about that for a minute, 150 games in 3 years, that is 50 games per year, over two systems (Vive and Rift (WMR doesn’t really have many great exclusives at this moment)). Now if you look at Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo each one of them has at least 50 great games per year. And it is even worse when you look at AAA games, as 15 over five years, or 5 per year, is less then the number of AAA games released for consoles and PC per month.
Having so few high quality games is a major struggling point of VR, and it seems to be a endless loop of developers are scared to make games for platforms that have very little return and can be extremely hard to develop for, and gamers don’t want to get VR all that much due to the price and the low number of truly stand out major games. I can’t see many ways out of this loop without some major engagement from headset manufacturers getting developers more interested. And it seems like quite a few times developers that had free access to the technology would take more risks and try harder to make something that stands out and fully utilises the technologies.
The final question is- “is there a way to get this type of data from Steam and Oculus that allows the community to prove or disprove these questions?”