The gaming industry invests millions of dollars in the development and production of new games. However, it has come to the consumer’s attention that most VR games are way shorter compared to regular console ones. This may seem like a great inconvenience for those who prefer longer VR gaming experiences. But there is more than one hurdle to overcome in order to create longer VR games.
- VR game development costs and time constraints are major factors leading to the prevalence of shorter VR games.
- Longer VR games like Asgard’s Wrath offer immersive and engaging experiences for players, but they are rare due to the high cost and time involved in their creation.
- The market demand for shorter VR games is higher, as players often prefer gaming experiences that can be completed in a shorter time frame.
- VR headset characteristics and the issue of VR exhaustion also impact the length of VR games, as different types of headsets have limitations, and extended gaming sessions can lead to discomfort and fatigue.
Limited budget and market outreach
Whenever a game developer starts working on a new project, they always take into consideration the preferences of the target audience. If they create a regular 2D multiplayer game that can be played on PCs, gaming consoles, and even smartphones, chances are they’ll reach a much greater audience than if they were to make a game compatible with VR tech only.
Depending on the complexity of the game (graphics, audio, number of players), it could cost from $10 000 – $300 000 to create. For example, Skyrim VR, which is considered one of the best VR RPG games cost Bethesda Game studio $10 million to develop.
This means it’s hard to make a solid profit from VR games, especially for independent developers who don’t have the backing of big tech companies.
Plus, the higher the cost of the game development, the more expensive the final product will be, making it inaccessible to the mass consumer. This means the potential market outreach of the game is limited, and the developer may not recoup their costs.
Characteristics of different VR headsets
Every type of VR headset has its own perks and drawbacks, which affect not only its performance but also the amount of game diversity it can sustain.
These are the different types of VR gaming headsets and their main problems regarding the compatibility with games:
Standalone VR headsets have lower GPU and CPU processing powers, limited storage, and poor battery life, which can make them less desirable for advanced gamers. This is because these devices aren’t able to handle more complex games and extended gameplay sessions.
Therefore, they’re generally used for shorter games, which don’t put a strain on their technical capabilities. This often leads to a much lower level of engagement among gamers.
Despite this, these headsets are still popular among casual gamers who enjoy shorter, simpler experiences.
Tethered headsets rely on the tech specs of the PC they’re connected to, which enables them to play more complex games, compared to standalone headsets, which have limited technical capabilities and, thus, a limited choice of programs to run. And although tethered headsets are much better for advanced VR gamers, they do not sell as much as standalone. The mass consumer prefers to invest in a convenient and easy-to-use standalone headset like the Meta Quest 2, which is the most sold and popular headset on the market, instead of opting for a more powerful tethered one. As a result, the VR headsets that can run longer games don’t perform as well on the market as those that are limited to playing short games.
You can experience virtual reality with a smartphone-powered headset, but its limited processing power and battery life can affect the length of the game you play.
Google’s Cardboard VR headset, for example, relies entirely on a smartphone’s hardware, so the features and capabilities of the game have to be reduced to fit within the device’s constraints. This can be a challenge for developers who want to create a game with lots of features but have to make cuts to keep it running on a smartphone.
The difference between a PC or console and a smartphone also means that the game’s graphics may not be as detailed or have as many animations. All of these factors can contribute to shorter playing times for VR games.
Although these types of headsets offer more advanced gameplay due to their advanced tech specs, they’re always connected to a stationary piece of tech in order to function. This limits the potential of most VR games because it does not allow the full 6 DOF to be implemented in the experience.
You’re likely to experience VR exhaustion if you play longer VR games. This is due to the physical strain of wearing the headset, the weight and lack of padding, and the fatigue of using the controllers.
The following factors can all contribute to discomfort during extended gaming sessions, making shorter VR games more attractive:
- Eye strain
- Motion sickness
- Physical fatigue.
Eye strain and dizziness are the top reasons I need a break in long VR gaming sessions, I can rarely play for more than 1 – 1.5 hours straight.
Most game developers target PC and console owners because they enable more market opportunities. The number of people who have a PC or a gaming console is far greater than the number of those owning a VR headset. According to a 2021 Statista report, 36.3% (around 2 billion) of the world population owns a PC, whereas the VR owners come at just 171 million. This puts a strain on creating enough VR games that are long and have an appealing storyline and quality 3D graphics.
VR games require a steady and professional team of developers, and enough financial resources, which would enable the creation of the desired VR game infrastructure. They don’t have constant and reliable funding for development like regular console or smartphone games, which have in-game shops. The result of offering additional in-game purchases is gaining more profit and thus a solid ground for further creation of more advanced games. Consequently, VR experiences become shorter so that the developing team can actually create something of substance for gaming enthusiasts without going over the budget.
Most popular short VR games
The length of the game should not put anyone off of giving it a try. Here are some examples of intriguing VR games which don’t require much time to play:
Superhot VR is a unique hybrid puzzle-shooter game. It has won the GDCA Best VR Game 2018, SXSW Best VR Game 2018, DICE Awards Immersive Reality Game of The Year 2017, and more. It takes an average player about 2 hours to complete the main aspects of the game.
ABZU is an underwater adventure game in which the players control the Diver character, performing fluid acrobatics. There are hundreds of species based on real creatures and epic seascapes. An average player would need 2 hours to complete playing the game when focusing on the main objectives.
Beat Saber is one of the most popular and entertaining for people of all ages VR games. It is a VR-based rhythm game, which could take up to 6 ½ hours to complete. You can check our review of Beat Saber here.
Long VR games
Although most VR experiences may appear short to hardcore gamers, there are also great examples of VR games that take more than 10 hours to play.
Other Suns VR
Other Suns is a virtual reality game for Oculus Rift. It is a first-person shooter game set in a science fiction universe and features both single-player and multiplayer modes. It can take about 44 hours to fully complete the game.
Asgard’s Wrath is a VR game set in a mythical Norse world. It offers a rich storyline, stunning graphics, realistic environments, combat options, puzzles and challenges, and a lengthy campaign. It would take you 30 to 45 hours to finish the game.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Cost of Developing a VR Game?
Depending on its features a VR game’s development could cost somewhere from $10 000-$300 000.
What Are the Potential Long-Term Effects of Playing VR Games?
Playing VR games can cause potential long-term effects, such as eye strain, muscle pain, and motion sickness. It’s important to take regular breaks and stay aware of your physical condition to avoid these issues.
Are There Any Free VR Games Available?
Yes, there are free VR games available, like Blaston and Gorilla Tag.
Are There Any VR Games That Can Support Multiple Players?
Yes, many VR titles are designed for multiple players. For example, the popular game Beat Saber supports up to three players at once.
Overall, it appears that the majority of VR games are shorter than traditional video games because of limited budgets, market outreach, and VR exhaustion. However, there are several longer VR games available to explore that provide a more immersive experience.
At the end of the day, VR games may be short, but they still pack a punch – like a well-aimed arrow, they can shoot straight into the hearts of gamers.