The recent VR World Congress 2017 was a celebration of how far the VR market has come and all the exciting paths that stretch out into the future.
In amongst the talks and stalls eagerly talking about the ways that VR will change entertainment and business, was a panel on the challenges face by businesses operating in the market.
One of the members of the panel was Katie Goode, creative designer from award-winning games design agency Triangular Pixels. A veteran of the VR and AR game, Katie was previously involved in Unseen Diplomacy – the only HTC Vive game to be nominated for a BAFTA innovation award.
We caught up with Katie after the panel to talk about some of the issues that smaller VR companies face in today’s fast-growing market.
When do you see a more widespread consumer adoption of VR hardware? Will costs remain a prohibitive barrier for the near future?
I believe after every Christmas, we’ll see quite a big burst of users thanks to gaming.
When the costs start coming down with sales and bundles, we’ll start seeing more families getting involved.
There’s apparently already more VR devices than there was of iPhones on the original iPhone launch, so I don’t think we’re doing too badly!
What specific funding challenges do young VR companies face at the moment?
Games publishers are still not happy to be spending any money for VR.
Unless your game runs in 2D, or you are only asking for a tiny amount, then you’re going to struggle to get anyone interested.
Your options are hardware manufactures or business investment. Hardware manufactures deals can come with exclusivity locks, or you may have to alter your game for a platform the concept may not have been designed for.
Business investment doesn’t suit everyone, as investors expect your company to grow and grow, hiring more and more staff, and expecting you to earn more and more profit. They will have a say of how your company is run, and potentially even over the work you do.
There’s a lot of money in work for hire, B2B and marketing, so that could be a good option for some, but obviously, it puts a pause on your own work.
Will entertainment continue to be the driving force behind VR or will it increasingly be enterprise solutions (such as real estate, medical training, etc) that drive increased adoption?
Games will always push technology, and will be driving VR and its adoption.
Enterprise will keep it around as a medium, and act as a solid base to keep money coming into the industry.
Both are equally important for growing the VR industry.
What particular challenges have Triangular Pixels faced with regards to product development and bringing them to market?
We started in VR very early, and the evolving specs and capabilities of the hardware was a massive challenge, as well as dealing with the bugs that come with bleeding edge software and SDKs.
We’ve spent so much of our time dealing with the fallout, and having to make sure our game still works. With the launch of the devices, things are started to settle to more traditional software development and time-frames.
Our biggest issue now is project funding.
From your experience, is there currently a limited amount of skilled people that VR firms can hire? Are most applicants coming from from academia or are they older and more experienced?
Games developers are very adaptable, and have always been working within the technical limitations of real-time processing.
I don’t feel as though there is a limited amount of skilled people, it’s just non-games VR firms need to convince game developers to work for them!
We are only interested in hiring game developers, and that comes first before any VR experience.
We would prefer a more experienced games developer with no VR experience, over an experienced VR developer with a small amount of games experience. Our applicants tend to be younger, but not necessarily fresh out of university.