What is VR development company?
It is a company that develops a computer-generated experience which recreates artificial environment of life situation and involves user’s sensory experience including sight, touch, hearing and even smell. Usually the team consists of: VR developers, graphic designers, 3D artists, spatial sound experts and engineers. VR development companies provide such services as: VR game development, VR training simulation, VR tour production and 3D model creation.
How does VR development company work?
To create VR experience developers commonly use cross-platform game engines as:
- Unity 3D that gives an opportunity to create VR games, interactive experiences and simulations in 2D and 3D. Unity offers scripting API in C# and supports following graphics APIs: Direct3D, OpenGL, OpenGL ES, WebGL and APIs on the video game consoles. Unity provides such specifications for VR games as: mipmaps, texture compression, parallax and reflection mapping, dynamic shadows and full-screen effects. It supports such platforms as: iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, Vuforia, Oculus Rift, Daydream and many more.
- Unreal Engine due to its extensive customizability and multiplatform possibilities is commonly used to develop high-quality games as stealth and fighting games, MMORPGs and RPGs. Unreal Engine provides coding in C++. It consists of sound, graphics and physics engines that actually drives the game. Supports following platforms: Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, SteamOS, Magic Leap, Daydream and others.
To develop and implement client’s project, a VR development company typically makes such steps:
- Establishing ideas and goals. Client and team of VR developers should have the clear idea of the purpose and task VR experience will perform. All the parameters should be written in technical documentation.
- Concept creation. At this stage should be approved visual design concept and graphics architecture in 3D space.
- Motion Prototype. The team tracks and programs all the possible user’s movements by using interaction tracking, heat maps, head and eyes tracking system.
- VR development. 3D designers and developers construct VR experience by creating an immersive environments, programming an interactive elements and texturing the assets.
- Beta testing. Is a detection of bugs and uncertainties by performing constant testing of graphics, movements and technical capabilities.
- Improvement. Is a stage of fixing detected bugs.
- Release. Presenting the final version of VR experience to the clients for them to release it to the final users.
Another crucial issue during VR development process is design methodology. The purpose is to create a conceptual framework that ensures correct representation of virtual world necessary for practical activities.
The cost and development period will depend on the complexity and specifications of required VR experience. Thus:
- the simplest VR experience requires 3-5 weeks of development and will cost $3,000 - $9,000
- VR experience of middle complexity requires 4-6 months and costs $30,000 - $85,000
- complex VR experience requires at least 1 year and more and costs $90,000 - $150,000
As a rule, VR development companies charge one-time fee per whole project, while freelance VR developers charge per hour. For more details, see the paragraph below on pricing types.
Keep in mind that development process and development period can differ depending on a chosen headset where VR experience will be performed. Consequently if you prefer to develop VR experience for powerful PC using such headsets as HTC Vive or Oculus Rift it will take twice more time than to develop it for standalone headsets as Oculus Go or Lenovo Mirage Solo.
How much does VR development cost?
The cost of development depends on complexity of future VR app:
- simple VR app or elementary VR game development will cost $3,000 - $9,000. For example, 360 Virtual tour costs rates starts - from $3,500; Architectural Visualization - from $4,000; 3D Runner from $5,000.
- VR for online stores will cost $10,000 - $30,000
- Cinema in VR will cost $10,000 - $35,000 for UI plus approximately $10,000 for backend development
- VR apps and games of middle complexity will cost $30,000 - $85,000
- VR Shooter cost rates starts from $65,000 for one level and $30,000 for every next level
- complicated VR games development, as MMORPG (Massively multiplayer online role-playing game) will cost $90,000 - $150,000 (or even more)
It may depend on devices where VR experience will be performed:
- short and quite simple VR experiences for mobile headsets as Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard and Google Daydream will cost approximately $25,000 and more. For example, it could be 2D imagery in 3D environment.
- medium-size and more complex VR experiences for the same headsets will cost approximately $75,000 - $100,000. For example, VR with detailed scenario, character design, interactive elements and spatial audio.
- complicated VR experiences for high-end headsets as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive will cost $150,000 - $200,000. It is mainly considered VR games.
Location of development company will also influence on cost rates:
- in USA and Canada it will cost $40-240 per hour
- in Western Europe - $40-180
- in Eastern Europe - $25-70
- in India - $5-70
How to choose Virtual Reality development company?
Here are some criteria to consider that will help you to choose appropriate VR development company:
By VR development experience. Define the field of company’s expertise, it may be: game production, model creation, VR tour production, training simulation, product demo or event presentation.
By portfolio. Every valuable VR development company has a portfolio on its website. Through it you can find out the level of VR experience quality and the level of company’s team expertise.
By pricing. Usually development company provides two types of pricing:
- Fixed price. It is better option for project with strict budget and deadline. With such pricing you will definitely know the final cost of the project but you will be limited in change requests.
- Time & Material. It is better option for the project with flexible timeframes. It will be easier to make changes but harder to control the costs using this pricing method.
By compatibility. When you are hiring VR development company, you are hiring technological partner. Get to know better your future colleague. Besides level of delivered quality take to consideration company’s values, the way they communicate, flexibility to changes and the way they treat their team.
By clients’ feedbacks and ratings. It is also good to check the feedbacks from former clients and contact with them to get more information about cooperation with this particular development company.
By received awards. We recommend you to pay attention to the awards that company won for VR project development and implementation. It is highly valuable if the company won or at least was nominated by:
- The VR Awards that organised by the center of recognition of the most prominent achievements in Virtual reality industry. There are such nominations as: VR Game of the Year, VR Experience of the Year, VR Film of the Year, Rising VR Company of the Year, Innovative VR Company of the Year and Awards for significant achievement in some particular industry (for example, in marketing, education, healthcare, architecture and real estate)
- The Webby Awards organised by the International Academy of Digital Arts & Science has following nominations: VR Branded Interactive, Game or Real-time and VR Branded Cinematic or Pre-Rendered
- In 2016 Byron Bay International Film Festival also introduced two awards in Virtual Reality: BBFF Best Achievements in Virtual Reality 360 degree Experience (Interactive) and BBFF Best Achievements in Virtual Reality 360 degree Experience (Linear).
Industries where Virtual Reality development can be used?
Virtual reality is widely used in plenty industries. Areas that already benefited from this technology are:
- Education - VR finds its implementation in schools and colleges. According to Internet2 (University Corporation of Advanced Internet Development) report 18% of US colleges had already “fully deployed” VR in studying process and 46% deployed it partially. For example, there is a VR application called Mission:Iss which transports student into orbit on board of the International Space Station.
- Retail - VR is a great solution for online store owners who added model creation and showroom option to their official website. By watching it buyers can discover types and shades of dress fabric, shape of shoes, size of bags. For example, fashion retailer TopShop provided its buyers with VR app where they had a chance to sit on the first row of fashion show during London Fashion Week.
- Game industry - there are a huge amount of VR games such as: Beat Sabet, Echo Combat, Moos, Blade and Sorcery. One of the most impressive is Edge of Nowhere in which user become a hero makes his way to rescue a missing expedition.
- Architecture - construction companies benefited from it because now they can construct a building and show it to the client in advance. There are such applications as: Fuzor, Twin Motion, Prospect, Autodesk Live. For example, Autodesk Live gives the opportunity to construct architecture model and step inside it through virtual environment.
- Tourism - VR experiences allow travellers to plan their trip better and take a look on future destinations. The most amazing are: Google Earth VR, Everest VR, The Grand Canyon Experience and Destinations. For instance, in Everest VR user feels as a participant rather than a viewer because VR contains a lot of interactive mountain climbing elements.
- VR tour - is a great tool if you need to show an exhibition. For example, British museum created a VR tour which transports viewers and shows them a historical exhibition of the Bronze Age.
- VR event - Recreation of live event in order to share it with the wide audience and provide users with the feeling of actual presence. For instance, Virtually Live company recreated a Formula E race where user had a chance to become a professional race driver.
- Professional trainings - companies are actively using VR to create training simulation app in order to teach or to train their employees some specific skills. For instance, VR Star is a VR training that teaches how to use safely automation mechanism during manufacturing process.
- Medicine - VR has a great impact on this industry as it already launched such projects as: virtual robotic surgery, virtual reality diagnostics, anatomy models and realistic virtual environments. For example, EyeSim that is ophthalmic simulator where students can train and learn about ocular anatomy.
Difference between VR development company and freelance developers?
Advantages of working with freelance developer:
- Lower pricing. The price freelance developer charge is often lower than the price suggested by development company. There is no need for employer to cover taxes, health insurance and supplies.
- Easy to find. According to the high demand there are a lot of specialized platforms where you can find a developer.
- Expertise in a specific field.
- Flexible schedule. Is a great advantage if a client and a developer are located in different timezones.
Disadvantages of working with freelance developer:
- Risks. Freelance developer usually works on a few projects simultaneously so you never know how much time he devotes exactly to your project. Another issue is that freelancer can say “Goodbye” in any moment.
- Lack of self-organization. There is a threat to break project deadline.
- Low level of product’s end quality. Unfortunately, a lot of freelancers are concerned on their own profit and don’t pay much attention to product’s end quality.
Advantages of working with development company:
- Reliability. Development company is interested in long-term relationship so they care about reputation and delivery of high quality services.
- Team of professionals. In case if you are working with freelancer you have narrow-focused specialist and in development company is gathered a team of professionals with an expertise in different fields.
- Smooth workflow. You have the opportunity to check the reports and control completed tasks. The team is responsible and open to answer any questions.
Disadvantages of working with development company:
- Higher pricing. The cost rates of provided services by development company is definitely higher than freelancer cost rates.
In conclusion we can say that cooperation with freelancer is cheaper and better for short-term project. Usually freelancer is a narrow-focused specialist and if he lacks some expertise you will be enforced to find another freelancer or to hire one more. And you also need to keep in mind that freelancer is less predictable, so as a result he can break the deadline of the project.
On the other hand, cooperation with development company is more expensive but in the end you will receive high-quality service. Company will provide you with the team of professionals with the expertise in different fields so you will build reliable and long-term relationship.
Cost rates for freelance VR developers:
- Junior developer will charge $30 - $50+ per hour. Such developers have basic level in VR development that includes programming on C, C#, C++ for Unity 3D or Unreal Engine and fundamentals in video and photo editing.
- Middle developer will charge $50 - $100+ per hour. These developers have higher level of expertise in VR development and specialize in video games, mobile VR and 360° video production.
- Senior developer will charge $75 - $150+ per hour. They are high professionals in VR development and also have expertise in film production, design and animation.
How long does it take to create a VR experience?
It depends on the complexity of required VR experience:
- the simplest VR experience will require 3-5 weeks for development. In this category can be elementary games.
- VR experience of middle complexity requires 4-6 months. It could be a VR model creation, product demo or development of more complicated VR game.
- complex VR experience requires at least 1 year and more for development. For example, MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role- playing game)
What are Virtual Reality trends in 2019?
VR usage in marketing. Brands actively use virtual experiences in their marketing campaigns. With such marketing tool companies gain more consumers’ interest and involvement.
New trend to use VR experience in company’s staff training. Last year Walmart implemented this technology into its working process and now we are expecting to hear about its results. Nevertheless we understand the efficiency of VR trainings as they simulate realistic environment to learn and practice new skills.
Combination of VR and AI. It is predicted that virtual environment and its inhabitants will become more intelligent. We can explain it by increase of voice control stemming from AI and decrease of icon support which provide bigger immersion. Gamers who experience VR will compete with smarter opponents who will gain faster reactions thanks to AI and adapt easier to different play styles.
Cost vs Value. Oculus, Samsung, HTC companies are actively searching for the way to decrease the cost of their headsets to bring VR technology to every living room.
Content that has longelivity. It is preferred that the content keep the user to come back for multiple usage of VR experience.
Strange idea wins the race. Virtual reality has unlimited opportunities that developers can create the more unusual and as a result more attractive VR experiences.
What is the difference between VR & AR?
Virtual reality shows virtual objects inside the virtual, digital environment while Augmented reality shows virtual objects in the real, physical environment.
With the help of Virtual reality experience user can totally immerse into artificial world. Using such headsets as Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard user can be transported into imaginary world for example, in a spaceship.
In Augmented reality users see and interact with the digital elements which were added to the real world. Normally it’s enough to use the camera on the smartphone. The most famous examples of Augmented reality are Pokemon Go game and Snapchat lenses.