HTC's gamble has certainly paid off for a while. When it launched in 2016, the HTC Vive was the most high-tech, cutting-edge VR head-mounted display (HMD) ever created. It trounced the Oculus Rift in almost every possible way and, as a result, excited a lot more consumers and developers for that first year or so. As time went on, Oculus improved the Rift in significant ways, from adding in proper roomscale support to finally shipping its Oculus Touch controllers, and with the exclusive titles that they continued to develop, the tide began to turn.
Enter the 2019 AR/VR Innovation Report 2019 from XRDC, a group that's run by Informa Tech, the same group that's responsible for the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) and Gamasutra.com. This annual report surveys hundreds of developers in the industry, from filmmakers to game developers, and asks what platforms they prefer, what they're developing for, and what the outlook of future projects looks to be.
This year marked the first year that developers began to prefer developing for the Oculus Rift over the HTC Vive, a first in the report's four-year history. This year's survey included over 900 responders, and the results are pretty incredible, especially on the Oculus Quest's behalf.
For projects currently in development, 29 percent of responders said their platform of choice was the Oculus Rift (including the Rift S), while the HTC Vive has fallen to 24 percent. Amazingly, the Oculus Quest is tied at 24 percent of responders, meaning that the 2-month-old Oculus Quest has as many titles in development from survey responders as the 3-year-old HTC Vive; a testament to how popular the Oculus Quest has become seemingly overnight.
To gauge how substantial these numbers are, one only needs to look at the next responder category. 30 percent of these same developers said that their most recently completed project was targeted for the Oculus Rift, while 29 percent was on the HTC Vive. Only 12 percent of developers said their most recently completed project was for the Oculus Quest, meaning we're seeing a double percentage jump in Oculus Quest development in an incredibly short time span.
Later in the report, XRDC discusses the problem of short-term profitability, which is still a difficult-to-achieve metric in the VR space. Most developers cited that they expect to make a profit in the medium to long term timeframe, but few are expecting a Call of Duty type of instant profit on launch day for their projects. It's not to difficult to understand why, then, that developers are quickly jumping aboard development for the Oculus Quest; a platform that's designed like a console in that it doesn't need anything else to power it or to set up the experience.
As a more console-like experience, including a more console-like price of $399, the Oculus Quest seems to be the shot in the arm that VR has needed. In anecdotal evidence, I've had half a dozen friends pick up an Oculus Quest since launch and are absolutely loving the experience. These are folks who either had little to no interest in VR beforehand or didn't have enough interest to invest the money it would have taken to build a gaming PC and still have to purchase an expensive HMD.
What will next year's survey bring? It'd be surprising if this shift didn't continue, especially in the Oculus Quest's favor, and we'd be even more surprised if the Quest didn't see the bulk of VR development by then, too.