Last week, the Wall Street Journal revealed that the VR rhythm game Beat Saber generated $255 million in sales between its initial release in May of 2019 and last October. The revelation was no surprise to Tipatat Chennavasin, whose Venture Reality Fund was an early investor in Beat Saber maker Beat Games. – Lowpass
What’s most incredible about Beat Saber’s success is that a team of 3 game developers created it. In other words, the most successful VR game to date was not from a AAA gaming studio but rather from an indie game development team in the Czech Republic.
Outside of Beat Saber, the VR sales figures are getting enticing.
VR developers have sold $3 billion worth of apps and games since 2016, Chennavasin estimates. “It's not a $100 billion sector yet,” he said. “But the fact that so many developers are making real money now is fascinating to me. 40 titles have done over $10 million in revenue, that's huge for the Quest.
“When people talk about the next platform, or what comes after the smartphone, for me, (the question is) always: What's the next app store? There are great products like smartwatches and smart speakers (that have) sold hundreds of millions of devices,” Chennavasin said. “They all have app stores that did pretty much nothing in revenue.”
The fact that we have a new hardware device that does tens of millions of hardware sales, but can create an almost $2 billion app store? That's awesome. We've reached that tipping point in VR where it's definitely not going away. And with Apple coming in and others like it, I think this is just going to get bigger and bigger and better.” – Lowpass
It should be a call to action for all indie developers to get on the VR train because there are real opportunities and real dollars there.
How Game Developers Are Responding
The 2023 Game Developers Conference released the GDC State of the Game Industry Report, which surveyed 2,300 game developers. And their luke-warm enthusiasm is eye-opening.
When asked what platform they’re developing their next project on, 57% said PC, 33% said PlayStation 5, 12% said VR headsets, and just 5% said AR hardware.
When asked what platform they’re interested in developing games for, 23% said VR headsets compared to 64% PC and 46% PlayStation 5. However, it matches 23% who said iOS, which is fascinating that there’s parity with the App Store. AR hardware is far behind with only 12%.
That’s the broad gaming market. But when you drill down to the XR gaming market, things get more vivid.
Which VR/AR platform(s) most interest you as a developer right now?
39% – Meta Quest
35% – PlayStation VR2
24% – Valve Index
19% – HTC Vive
Now contrast that with actual game development.
Which VR/AR platform(s) do you anticipate your next game will be released on?
36% – Meta Quest
18% – PlayStation VR2
15% – HTC Vive
11% – Valve Index
In other words, there’s much more talk than there is action with PlayStation VR2. But by far the most shocking responses were the following.
What company/platform is best placed to deliver the metaverse?
14% – Epic/Fortnite
7% – Meta/Horizon Worlds
7% – Microsoft/Minecraft
5% – Roblox
45% – believe the metaverse concept will never deliver on its promise
I’m not surprised that nearly half of them are still skeptical that the metaverse and the Spatial Internet will become a reality. What does surprise me, though, is that they believe in Epic Games and Fortnite over Meta and Horizon Worlds.