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How much does VR application development cost?

21/11/2016

VR application development is supposed to be the future of tech. The market is just about to explode. With long expected Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Gear VR finally shipping as well as the markets old-timer Google Cardboard the year 2016 is going to be critical.

VR technology is being successfully applied in healthcare, education, military, architecture, it’s a great way for business owners to acquaint the customers with their goods and services. Nevertheless, the market of VR  app development is currently unoccupied. It is waiting for a killer app and this is a great opportunity for startuppers and running businesses to find their niche and to become the Uber of virtual reality.

You now may be wondering how much will it cost to build a VR application? This overview will show you the main stages of product estimation and help you with calculating the approximate costs of your virtual reality application development.

Pre-requirements for VR app development

Every development process should start with a detailed project documentation – this is the guarantee that the VR application will exactly meet the needs of the customers.

It should include all the important information about the project. Start with functional specifications – the main idea of the VR app development, its key features. If you can include some photos, screenshots or hand sketches to illustrate the characteristics of the app – do it!

Project documentation for the VR app development
Project documentation for the VR app development

With precise documentation, the virtual or augmented reality app developers team will be able to offer the best solution according to the needs of the customer. Don’t forget the user story, specify which problems your potential user has and how your VR application is going to solve them. Describe the journey through the VR app development, where does the user start, which actions does he take, how much time does he spend with your virtual reality mobile app and in which way will your project make his life better.

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Knowing the user and his problems the developer will be able to find the best technical solution to make the application usage smooth and seamless. The project documentation must be a clear guide for the developers about the ideas and expectations of the customer. Sometimes some better solutions can be found – the development company will then adjust the documentation after the discussion with the customer. The project documentation can be written by the virtual reality companies. In case when the customer decides to order such a service it takes 3 to 10 days and is paid according to the rates of the VR company.

Project documentation for VR app development: $700-$3,400, 3-10 days

VR applications are built for different devices and these are required for a proper development. Our Unity3D developers have the most popular VR and AR headsets which are now available on the market at their disposal including:

  • Oculus Rift DK1 and DK2
  • Samsung Gear VR
  • HTC Vive
  • Microsoft HoloLens

The number of active VR users is going to increase by 400% till 2018!

VR development estimation

Depending on the complexity of the app the development time can vary from 1 month up to several years. This chart will give you a brief overview about the development time of VR/AR products starting with the simplest and up to the most complicated ones.

  1. Imagine a simple VR game, where the protagonist is falling (running, flying etc.) towards the finish line and has to avoid some barriers like stones, meteors or other players. The protagonist will see the changing landscapes, the coming barriers and hear the strong wind, just like he is moving indeed. This kind of games is considered to be one of the simplest virtual reality apps for iOS or Android and can be created by one developer in just one month.
  2. A great application every business can take advantage of is an online-shop in 3D. Let’s assume, a company is selling watches and wants to increase the customer engagement. In a VR or AR online shop the customer can look around the watch he liked or even try it on! Such a service will definitely improve the company sales. 3D models design for an online shop in VR or AR will last 1 month, the app development will take around 2-3 months for 2 coders, including the backend development.
  3. Horror games in VR as realistic as they are with the latest virtual reality technology are the true sensation among gamers. The development of such a game will last 3-6 months and more with 3 developers involved in the process.
  4. Creating 3D models for virtual reality applications is normal, but what about creating them IN virtual reality? Some VR apps make it possible. To develop a prototype of such an app will take 3-6 months.
  5. One of the most complex applications that can be built with VR/AR technology is the MMORPG. The multiplayer role-playing games in virtual reality are the absolute bomb. A VR MMORPG development can last 6-12 months and involve 10+ developers.
Esimation of VR application development
Estimation of  VR app development

Want to know how much does a VR app cost?

Virtual reality applications are developed for several platforms like Gear VR, Google Cardboard, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. This slightly affects the development time – VR applications are built with Unity3D – a cross-platform engine that allows adjusting any app for any platform in just some hours.

THINKMOBILES assigns a PM to every project it is working on. This person is making the estimation of time and resources required to successfully achieve the goal of the project.

VR development estimation: $0; 2-16 hours

Virtual and augmented reality development rates

The development agency will probably let you choose between two pricing methods: fixed price and time and material. Both of them have advantages and disadvantages, so make sure you choose the one that suits your particular case most:

  • Fixed price is preferred when you have a limited budget and strict deadlines. For a successful VR app development with fixed price, you have to provide a detailed project documentation.
  • If you put the flexibility in the first place it is better to choose the time and material pricing method. The customer will then be able to modify the project on the go, add some new features or change the existing ones. That is why the communication between the customer and the developer agency is essential to make such a product successful, especially if you are developing virtual reality applications. Time and material pricing method allows achieving the highest quality of the app
Fixed preis and Time/Material VR software development
Fixed preis and Time/Material

Every change during the development process might result in some additional hours or even days of coding, that will be paid according to the current rates of the company.

Rates for VR application development differ according to the country

Rates for VR app development differ according to the country of residence of the agency you are working with. In US and Canada, you will be charged $40-$240 per hour, in Western Europe $40-$180, in Eastern Europe $25-$70, in India – $5-$70. The best price-quality relationship offer the eastern European companies. If you decide to outsource your project to the Ukrainian developers, their services will cost you around $25-$50 per hour. Returning back to the chart of the applications, that can be created for virtual or augmented reality, approximate costs for their development will be as follows:

    1. Simplest game for VR/AR – $5 000 – $8 000;
    2. Online shop in virtual or augmented reality – $15 000 – $25 000;
    3. Horror game – $20 000 – $80 000;
    4. 3Ds Max in VR – $50 000 – $200 000;
    5. MMORPG – from $100 000
VR app development rates worldwide
VR app development rates worldwide

Keep in mind that this numbers are approximate and vary according to the features of the app.

VR/AR development rates: $25-50 per hour

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Resources allocation

Estimation of the virtual and augmented reality application development, as well as all the management, are the responsibility of the PM. The tasks of the project manager can be divided into 5 groups: planning, organizing, leading, controlling and workshop planning. If done well, these five components are the guaranty of a successful project.

  1. Planning is the essential duty of every PM. On this stage, he makes a clear estimation of the project, decides what needs to be done, divides the project into separate sprints and develops the project schedule.
  2. Organizing stage includes work with human resources. The PM has to find executants for each single task, build the development team and identify the roles and positions. Some services may be provided by external specialists – to take control over them is the responsibility of the project manager as well.
  3. Leading is mostly about soft skills of the PM. Communication, team motivation, and conflict resolution are his main duties, that influence the development process and the final result a lot.
  4. Controlling means tracking project progress – measuring, evaluating, correcting. Conducting regular meetings will help the project manager be up to date and never lose control of the process.
  5. Workshop planning is an optional service and can involve the PM or the developers, who visit the customer in his office. Workshops can be dedicated to project launch or further cooperation discussion. Such events are conducted on customers demand when some questions need to be discussed directly.

The project plan is never constant and should be revised and corrected on regular basis. Not less important are weekly meetings or calls with the customer not to let him forget about his own project. The PM reports about the current status of the project, plans for the next week, discusses with the customer all the issues or new ideas.

The success of the running project depends a lot on the professionalism of the PM, his experience and the ability to manage and motivate the team. On the organizing stage, the PM has to find executants for every single task and build a strong team. The team for VR application development mostly includes one designer, one or two QA engineers, and several developers, depending on the size of the project.

VR apps development costs
VR apps development costs

Some virtual and augmented reality apps development companies offer designer services as well, but at this point, the customer should be careful. Creating design for VR applications is quite different than that for mobile or web, certain knowledge and experience is mandatory. If there is a 3D designer that is working with Unity3D team on regular basis he should do this work properly. If the company assigns a mobile UX/UI designer to work on your project – watch out. Sometimes it is a better decision to assign an external designer with experience. It is also a good practice for customers to deliver ready 3d-models for development or at least 2d-models that can be refined and adapted for VR and AR.

Testing and bug fixing phase is essential for every project. No single product can be developed without any bugs, that need to be revealed and fixed on time. Around 20 to 30 % of VR application development process is dedicated to testing so that the customer will receive a superior app. THINKMOBILES also offers automated testing services for iOS and Android applications. Virtual and augmented reality development can take several months and involve 3-15 specialists to develop a perfect functioning high-end VR/AR app.

VR application development: $5 000 – $300 000, 3 to 24 months or more.

Post-production

Post production can include maintenance of the application or further development like adding new features to the existing application. Post production maintenance of the app and its costs depend a lot on the company you are working with.

THINKMOBILES, for example, offers a half year warranty for its products. Any bugs revealed during the first six months after the launch of the virtual or augmented reality app will be fixed immediately and free of charge. If the customer decides to add a new feature to his VR application or to change the existing one it is considered as a new task and the estimation process is started again. Such assignments are paid according to the hourly rate of the development agency.

Post production maintenance: $0 during the warranty period, $25-50 per hour after the warranty period.

Virtual and augmented reality apps are not a fiction anymore. We already wrote about great benefits for businesses it can bring with the right software. The example of our client Hashplay that brought marketing and VR streaming in touch shows the importance of innovations in the tech world.

You may be also interested in these topics:

Markets that will boom in 2018 thanks to VR

Top VR experiences to try out

Virtual reality applications in medicine transforming healthcare we once knew

Virtual reality in healthcare: the new breakthrough in medicine

Communicate with Virtual reality and Augmented reality specialists

Additional  VR/AR resources

Virtual Reality is permanently changing and there are a lot of new things to investigate. The following list below represents VR/AR resources for you to enjoy and share.

 

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Comments

Your comment...

Great article!
Interesting article on fixed rate VR development... following the indie or mobile design methodolgies. But the fixed rate still has to be based on a set of time... for ROI reasons otherwise sounds like a nice bait and switch. :-) Estimates only... not actuals.