Squanch Games — the game developer created in part by Rick & Morty co-creator Justin Roiland — originally started out with a plan to focus on VR games. Now, however, they're going to be abandoning those plans for the short term due to the risks involved.
It all started during the development of Trover Saves the Universe when the developers had a realization that the game would work perfectly fine on a normal screen.
"About halfway through Trover, we were doing a lot of things specifically with Trover Saves the Universe that were designed from the ground up for VR, but we were playtesting outside of VR because it's quicker to iterate when you don't have to stick a headset on and do a whole thing," Squanch Games Co-Founder and CEO Tanya Watson told GamesIndustry.biz. "We realized it having a conversation with the team. The game still works pretty well outside of VR, and we were just like, 'Does it make sense to bring it to a traditional screen experience?'
Since then, this developer has made the decision to move away from VR. The reason? Economics, marketing, and the current number of headsets out there in the world make it tremendously difficult to make a profit.
Will Squanch Games Make VR Exclusives Again?
"Four years ago, I would have said three to five years from then," Tanya Watson said. "So we're there now. So I'm going to say the same answer: three to five years from now."
In her estimation, a base of 10–20 million VR headsets out in the wild would make for a good, competitive VR exclusive market. While Superdata's Q4 2019 report shows that headset sales have been steadily rising, we are still pretty far away from that number. For instance, the Valve Index sold 103,000 headsets in Q4 2019 and 33,000 in Q1 2020. At that rate, we probably are 3–5 years away from the kind of market saturation that Watson admits is necessary.
For now, Squanch Games sees problems with games that both support VR and traditional screens. Although this studio was founded with VR in mind, it might not return to the medium for some time.
"A lot of people have heard of [Trover Saves the Universe] but then they say, 'Well I don't have a VR headset so I didn't buy it,'" Watson explained. "And then you say they can get it in non-VR and their response is, 'Well it was made for VR, so I don't want to buy something that wasn't made for the thing that I have.'"
Does a game having optional VR capability make you uneasy? What's your favorite VR exclusive to date? Let us know in the comments below!