As virtual reality (VR) technology finally nears the consumer market, some members of the videogame industry have stressed doubts about its adoption in mainstream titles. VR head-mounted displays (HMDs) will undoubtedly have an uphill battle convincing some larger publishers to support them, as some companies will likely want to see high sales figures to validate their inclusion. Ubisoft, for example, has previously stated that it would need to see sales of up to one million HMDs for VR to become viable. But, according to indie studio Frontier Developments, it could take studios less time to just implement VR support over convincing a publisher to do so.
Studio Founder David Braben suggested as much to VRFocus in an interview discussing the team’s space simulation title, Elite: Dangerous, which supports the Oculus Rift HMD. “It’s really funny,” Braben said of the decision to include VR support, “in a publisher world we would probably have had to put together a business case to support it. I reckon it took less time supporting Oculus Rift on DK1 than it would have done to prepare a business case. So I’m really pleased we did it. And that was partly why, it was because we wanted it, because we said from the start we’re making this game for ourselves, and that ‘ourselves’ is not just everyone at Frontier but all of the backers too.”
The ease of implementation is crucial to convincing some larger companies of VR’s potential. If adding support for the Oculus Rift and other HMDs had proven to be both expensive and complicated, then VR could struggle going forward. However, popular development toolsets such as the Unity engine and Unreal Engine 4 are already placing strong emphasis on accessible VR support and developers working across the likes of the Oculus Rift and the Project Morpheus PlayStation 4 HMD have noted the ease of working between HMDs. With this in mind, developers will hopefully have a much easier time convincing publishers to pay attention to VR.
Check back with VRFocus later in the week for the full interview with Braben on Elite: Dangerous and its VR support.