JohnBirshire wrote on Dec 15, 2020, 11:25:
I was curious about VR games, maybe someone can answer? I think I saw an official statistic that only 2% of Steam users have it? How are companies even profitable enough to bother making games for it? Or they all just kind of simplistic and don't take much dev time?
About 2 million PCVR users are active on Steam. Total headset sales are considerably higher but VR hardware and software are quite limited now so retention is poor. E.g. VR is very cool but it's also quite uncomfortable (visually, ergonomically, physically), limited, clunky, and high friction. Most of the stuff people are playing are indie games, e.g. Beat Saber, Pavlov, Onward, H3VR, Population One, and so on. These teams have since expanded (and Facebook nabbed Beat Saber) but you're rarely talking about teams with more than 5 to 10 people. Most VR games are made by teams of just a few devs (sometimes even just a single dev). Some of these teams even do contract VR work outside of gaming to stay afloat. It's a work of passion and as for what people are actually playing it's dominated by titles from these talented indie devs.
However, with Facebook subsidizing the Quest 2 (they sell it for $300 and it's estimated that it costs $450 to produce) and it being so easy to use (it's inherently wireless, while PCVR is waiting for 802.11ay) that is broadening the market. But their mobile/standalone focus is also becoming something separate from PCVR--think early console vs PC days. HLA may have come close to breaking even because according to steam stats nearly all PCVR users bought it, but the Facebook PCVR exclusives are huge losses and they are only accessible to half of the market (MOH:AB could've been the exception since it's on Steam but Respawn botched it). Do note that at this point Facebook is really phasing out of PCVR and this is either their last or second to last "big title" for the platform.
Basically, VR would've continued to be an enthusiast thing for another 5 to 10 years--think early days of PC gaming--but Facebook is so scared of missing out on the next big medium again that they're fine with loss leading for a decade+. This (somewhat artificially) inflates the rest of the VR market because it's like a huge money fountain for the industry. They put ~$2.6b/year into XR and you can be guaranteed they aren't making anywhere near that back for the foreseeable future. And unlike your typical corp, they are not plagued by the whims of short term investors because Zuckerberg has secured majority control over the company's shares. AR is another big focus of theirs in their R&D labs and will likely become their primary focus (when the tech is ready) because the data collection, influence potential, and mass market appeal there is extraordinary. Much of their VR work unsuprisingly applies to AR as well, e.g. camera-based hand tracking. I've heard some AR experts joke that VR is just something for their engineers to do while AR technology is perfected.
Valve OTOH has no expectations for short to mid term mass market appeal and have said as much. They've actually underestimated the appeal of the Index, as it's always out of stock. They are just a crazy company and from everything I've seen they are continuing to invest a ton into both VR hardware and software.