DayZ Creator On VR Development: 'There Is No Money In It'

In a lengthy Reddit post yesterday, DayZ creator and Out of Ammo developer Dean Hall sounded off on the "terrible assumptions" he sees VR enthusiasts making about subsidised development deals and VR development in general. Virtual reality is not yet profitable, he says, and developers should have the right to take any help they can get.

Above: Superhot VR, currently only available on Oculus Rift.

Hall explained that Out of Ammo, which his studio Rocketwerkz released for SteamVR in September, has been "very unprofitable" despite exceeding their own sales objectives. "There is no money in it," he wrote. "I don't mean 'money to go buy a Ferrari'. I mean 'money to make payroll'. People talk about developers who have taken Oculus/Facebook/Intel money like they have sold out and gone off to buy an island somewhere. The reality is these developers made these deals because it is the only way their games could come out."

VR development deals have been a point of contention in VR communities, particularly the increasingly acrimonious platform war between HTC Vive and Oculus Rift owners on Reddit. The issue came to a head back in June as some game developers began to discuss development funding deals they'd made with Oculus in exchange for timed Oculus Rift exclusivity. Some Vive owners are understandably bummed out by the fact that new indie VR games like Superhot VR are only available on Oculus for a period of time. It doesn't help that Oculus is owned by Facebook, a widely reviled brand in many gaming circles.

"We considered doing some timed exclusivity for Out of Ammo," Hall wrote of his studio's first VR game, "because it was uneconomical to continue development. We decided not to because the money available would just help cover costs. The amount of money was not going to make anyone wealthy. Frankly, I applaud Oculus for fronting up and giving real money out with really very little expectations in return other than some timed-exclusivity. Without this subsidization there is no way a studio can break even, let alone make a profit."

Related to exclusivity, Hall pointed out that it is more difficult to support both Rift and Vive than most people think. "It is not Xbox One v PS4, where they are reasonably similar. They are very different and it is more expensive and difficult to support the different headsets."

Hall also addressed the Valve-provided development funds Valve's Gabe Newell referenced in an email earlier this year, which Newell said Valve hoped would make VR developers "less likely to take on deals that require them to be exclusive".

"Some will point to GabeN's email about fronting costs for developers," Hall wrote, "however I've yet to know anyone who's got that, has been told about it, or knows how to apply for this."

Hall concluded by cautioning VR enthusiasts to be careful what they wish for when they review-brigade and otherwise attack game developers for accepting development funding in exchange for timed exclusivity. "You may be successfully destroying timed-exclusives and exclusives for Virtual Reality," he wrote, "but what you don't realise, is that has been the way that platform and hardware developers subsidise game development. If we don't replace that, there won't be money for making games."

There's more in the full post, which is worth a read.


Comments

    Having superhot as the image seems kinda misleading

    I just don't see VR going anywhere. AAA games are suffering more and more, so I don't see how this new 'gimmick' (if you will) will somehow do better and turn more profits.
    VR just seems to be a mess.

      I agree. The times I've used it have not been "game changing" in the way the media would have me believe. It pretty much looked like I thought it would, only worse.

      I see a market for VR, but it isn't home entertainment. I see VR being combined with things like Laser Force gaming, roller coasters, or just generally on a larger scale at amusement parks etc.

        Hospitals using it to take bed ridden kids on outings.

        Yeah if anything I look at VR and think that could make arcades relevant again

        Last edited 10/12/16 7:27 am

        There's definitely a market for it (like g-man said about hospitals...something like that), however mainstream gaming is not it.
        Give me a good screen, a great set of speakers/headphones and proper gameplay over gimmicky tech demos.

      I was pretty sceptical myself, but I really enjoyed the Playstation VR demonstration at one of the booths at Westfield. There is an added layer of realism, I can see it working out extremely well for jump scares in the horror genre, if a decent resident evil gets created for it somehow.

    Bit off topic...But I just cant get any Move Controllers here in AU, doesn't encourage people like myself buying games atm either.

    I wish the term VR would change.

    The game itself is the VR. Headsets and other peripherals are just like monitors and only offer a way to experience the VR.

    It is because the game itself is the VR that we really gain little from things like the Oculus Rift because psychologically we know the game itself is the VR not the experiential tools. I don't think peripherals like the Oculus/Vive necessarily assist us getting engrossed into a VR; people have for a long time been reading and telling/hearing stories which themselves are psychologically virtual realities.

    I suppose some people may find an Oculus/Vive makes it easier for them to become engrossed in a VR however it wouldn't surprise me if on average "VR" gear makes no difference or even detracts from psychologically engaging into a VR because of the physical effort required.

    Of course the VR companies will continue to push their technology because that's how they make money. They will market it and those who buy into it will

    i have a vive its great, cry more because you can't afford it lol

      I think until the regular person CAN afford it then yeah VR won't be profitable

    Software needs to drive the demand for the hardware especially for new innovations such as VR. If developers take on the "it's not worth it" mentality then there won't be enough content to open the market up to more people who will, in turn purchase more software. It's the basic chicken & the egg conundrum which needs more software studios taking risks in order to drive the hardware.

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