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Opinion: Ryan Smith of Invrse Studios on the VR State of Affairs

Opinion: Ryan Smith of Invrse Studios on the VR State of Affairs

The 360VR Community is excited to bring you an Opinion Series, where we ask 360/VR Industry players to voice their opinions on the State of Affairs, and more. This week, we have the pleasure of having Ryan Smith, Founder & Creative Director of Seattle-based Invrse pen the following piece. You can find Ryan’s Bio, and link to his VR Game, available on STEAM, below.

One year ago I was on a stage across from a pretty influential guy from HTC…
As I told an audience how frustrated I was that the Blizzards and EAs of the gaming world haven’t thrown their hat into the VR ring yet. Indies were risking everything to find out what works in VR, while the companies that can (theoretically) absorb tens of millions of dollars of risk stayed on the sidelines.

A year of perspective has given me even more to think about. This time last year, the Vive and Rift had been out for 6 months, the PSVR had just shipped, and Touch controllers were still a few months away. Headsets were at peak price, and in many cases had just finally shipped all the pre-orders.

Not much has changed in terms of the AAA content, but I was naive to presume that the definitive AAA VR game could be made so quickly. Just look at the different motion controllers across the 4 premium platforms. To address more than a fraction of the market, you’d want to ship on all of them, but the controllers are all over the place.

Then consider the headsets, resolution, perf requirements on top end hardware, whether they are wireless, have eye tracking, different FOV….etc. If you tried to plan out a 3 year development there is no way you’d be able to predict the state of VR by the time your game went live.

So the AAA studios wait. They wait for enough headsets to incentivize the risk, when they could just churn out another sequel for XBox and PS4. (Both will be mostly the same in 3 years) They almost certainly wait for Bethesda to sink or swim with their franchise roll-out, and will follow suit with existing IP reskins long before making a VR-native game. They will also wait for Valve to launch their theoretical 3 VR titles, knowing that their labs are at the forefront and can anticipate the hardware 3 years from now better than the rest of us. Maybe they wait to see if one of the major players wins, loses, or even gets bought out by a competitor.

I do still lay a heap of the blame for slow VR growth on the AAAs.
They have millions in art, sound and engine assets at their disposal, plus IP rights, franchises, marketing budgets, e-sports partnerships, and the deepest stable of professional game designers possible. To have those resources and make yet another MOBA, or FPS Sequel, or PUBG Clone…is a little embarrassing, but they do have to spend years and tens to hundreds of millions of dollars on the big games, and those games can’t fail or the studio could die.

To end this opinion piece which may be longer than I had intended; I still hope the AAA studios have started some big projects, even if we don’t see them for 2+ years from now. By the time those games launch, there will be better headsets, 3x-20x more users, and a captive audience begging for premium content.

I look forward to playing them!

Ryan Smith is an entrepreneur, designer and artist who has been deeply immersed in VR and AR content creation since 2014.
In 2015 he founded of Invrse, a Seattle start-up that is redefining interaction in Virtual Reality for gaming and non-gaming applications. In 2017, Invrse was selected as a member of the ViveX accelerator for their top-secret interface, and is currently ramping up development with a number of high profile partners. Ryan is an avid board game player and designer, and has participated in over a dozen Seattle-area hackathons and game jams, with several wins under his belt.

The Nest: http://store.steampowered.com/app/473910/The_Nest/