Predictions Of The State Of The Industry for AR/VR/XR/Mixed Reality
What can indie videogame developers (or any videogame developer or software developer) learn from these trends?
The end of a year is usually a time when there are restrospectives of what happened in the preceding 12 months; as well as a time to forecast and predict what is yet to come, by analyzing trends.
On the evening of Wed Dec 12, 2018; I had the privilege of attending the Holiday Event: 2018 Review & 2019 Outlook with Digi-Capital hosted at 6D.ai by AWE Nite SF. These are what I learned from their talks (as of December 2018).
One of the speakers was Tim Merel (this is his twitter: https://twitter.com/DigiCapitalist), who is the Managing Director, Digi-Capital. He showed us data about the forecasts for the growth of augmented reality, and for which sectors, and how different markets and venture capitalists around the world valuate new companies. The largest segment of augmented reality is currently still for videogames. Some of the information that he showed has confirmed information that I saw from another source: that the market and the tech scene in China is still growing, and at the same time, the venture capitalists in China valuate startups or companies much higher than how venture capitalists in the U.S. valuate startups. So geography is very important to take into account, when pitching a startup or indie videogame studio.
The other big takeaway of Mr. Merel’s presentation is that even though the European countries are usually grouped together geographically, it is more useful to think of each country as its own separate market. This makes sense, since each country would have it’s own language and customs. These have profound effects for porting a game to different countries in terms of localization.
I’ll go off on a paragraph-long tangent about localization. In terms of localization, even countries that superficially share a language have differences in them. For example, even though Portugal and Brazil both speak Portuguese, there are regional differences with how they use certain idioms and slang. Same thing for French from France and French from Quebec. Same thing for Spanish in different Central and South American countries, and even within the regions inside Spain itself (Castillan Spanish versus Aragon Spanish, etc.). For people who only speak English, here is a good example: English in the U.K. has different slang and word usage than English in the U.S. or English in Australia, not to mention the regional differences within those countries. For that reason, thinking of different places are their own market and being aware of cultural and linguistic differences is crucial for your game or your app to be successful.
One other trend that Digi-Capital noticed is that there is higher interest in AR on mobile devices such as smartphones than other XR platforms.
According to research by SuperData, mobile AR had already reached over 1 billion users worldwide. The SuperData research has showed that the most common uses of AR so far (aside from games) are for social media and for shopping. One factor for this is the prohibitive costs for owning VR headsets. Another reason might be due to more adoption and availability of Apple’s AR-Kit, and Google’s AR Core. Android phones are more used globally than Apple phones (again, due to the cost), and ARCore runs on Android phones. Version 1.6 of ARCore now supports 250 million devices, which will have support for more realistic lighting and screen capture. Yet another factor is that the hardware for smartphones are now improving. An example is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor. Their Snapdragon 855 processor will be released for 5G phones.
As a videogame developer, I was happy to see this piece of news: Unreal Engine 4.21 adds support for Magic Leap’s Lumin OS & Windows Mixed Reality apps.
There were a lot more updates, but most of them were about acquisitions and mergers, and about startups that didn’t make it. Which is also valuable to know, because AR/VR/Mixed Reality/XR is a relatively new field, so there are a lot of risks. And it’s useful to learn from their mistakes. As with anything, there’s always the good and the bad, and there are always trade-offs, so I would assess that we should be cautiously optimistic.
Anyway, after some digging, I found out that Mr. Merel’s presentation was adapted from another talk that he gave earlier that month, and it’s available in YouTube. Click here to see it, since I think that it’s worth learning from.
What do you think? Do you agree, or disagree with these predictions? Have you seen evidence to the contrary? Evidence to support them? Do you find these useful? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks in advance! ^_^