AR provides better opportunity for mobile app developers than VR right now

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies have quickly attracted attention by the gaming industry with AR, in particular, offering great potential for use on mobile devices.

Indeed, mobile gamers are now seeking more immersive experience according to new research by Newzoo launched today. However, whilst VR is proving challenging due to the high cost associated with external devices such as headsets, AR continues to be a focus for large companies such as Apple and Google.

Among people who played AR games, 53% used their mobile devices, whilst just 28% played VR games on mobile. Pokémon GO is an excellent example of AR gaming success on mobile.

Virtual Reality

73% of US respondents who experienced VR in the last six months said they did so in a gaming capacity, followed by entertainment (65%) and virtual travel (60%). Around 13% of users play VR games at least five times per week, highlighting just how small the market currently is.

The majority of users surveyed experienced VR at home (56%), followed by a friend’s house (36%), at a gaming arcade (19%) and a VR centre (18%).

17% of people surveyed own a VR headset in the US and consoles were the preferred device choices for 30% of users, followed by mobile devices (28%) and PC (24%).

Newzoo predicts that VR is more likely to continue to grow on PC and console devices. A more social experience by connecting users through social media could become a reality in the near future, but headsets continue to be an expensive treat.

Augmented Reality

The AR landscape is dominated by apps on Google and Apple play stores with Unreal and Unity having set gaming standards.

According to the report, 1,035 apps on the Apple App Store mentioned ARCore or ARKit as part of their description in December 2018 versus 212 on the Google Play Store.

Although AR gaming on mobile clearly leads the field, both productivity and shopping app sectors are growing fast both in terms of AR integration, but also downloads.

Top AR games in terms of revenue include Pokémon GO, The Walking Dead: Road to Survival and Jurassic World Alive.

79% of US respondents surveyed experienced AR to play games, followed by entertainment (59%), virtual travel (57%) and artistic expression (56%).

When it comes to wearables, 61% said they would consider using them to enhance their AR mobile experience.

The majority of AR users (90%) in the US are accessing AR via smartphone apps. 19% of them said they used AR smartphone apps roughly once or twice per week, whilst 11% are using them five days a week or more often.

However, AR much like VR is experiencing some growing pains. Indeed, AR software development kits continue to undergo development and hardware developments are still in their infancy. Just 26% of phones currently support AR SDKs from Apple and Google, whilst 9% support Daydream and GearVR.

It’s been two years since Pokémon GO was released and gamers are still eagerly awaiting the next big AR hit, showing a lack of innovative content associated with the technology. Part of the problem is that monetisation opportunities for AR games are still undergoing changes, stifling enthusiasm among developers to spend considerable resources on developing AR games.