The VR market is expected to grow substantially in the coming years. More businesses and consumers are investing in VR hardware and software to escape reality and experience a digital world.
VR technology is often used in the gaming industry, but it has plenty of applications in other sectors. For example, therapists are now combining VR technology with traditional therapeutic approaches to treat mental health conditions, such as severe phobias and cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Plus, throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, VR has become an invaluable tool in use cases ranging from training health care workers to helping specialists perform virtual procedures.
However, none of this would be possible without teams of developers creating VR software such as VR apps and computer programs. More importantly, VR would not be as advanced as it is today if VR app developers did not overcome various challenges during the development process.
Main Problems in VR App Development
VR software must be combined with VR hardware to create immersive experiences for users. However, creating a viable VR user experience (UX) is no easy feat. Developers must render a virtual environment to enable users to interact with virtual objects they’ve created.
There are various kinds of VR software, some more mainstream than others. For example, some main types of VR software include VR visualization, VR SDK, VR game engine, VR social platforms, and VR content management systems.
Because VR is still a new technology, VR app developers may run into issues during the development process, including the following issues.
1. Consumer Perceptions
According to a 2022 report from ARtillery Intelligence, 61 percent of Americans have no interest in owning a VR headset. When asked why they aren’t interested in the technology, the resounding answer (63 percent) is that they “just aren’t interested.”
If consumers in particular are not interested in purchasing headsets, demand for VR apps will decrease. This could cause the VR app market to decline, and VR app developers could have a more challenging time finding employment in the industry.
Changing consumer perceptions about VR is not something that cannot happen overnight or by one individual developer. It will take time for consumers to feel more inclined to use VR, especially as it slowly becomes mainstream and the number of VR applications increases.
2. High Costs
According to a Security.org study, 65 percent of respondents said that cost was a determining factor in why they did not own a VR headset. Any new or emerging technology has high upfront costs and VR software is no exception.
Additionally, the costs associated with developing a VR app are also exceptionally high. Research shows that a VR app would typically cost between $30,000 and $150,000 to build, depending on the complexity and size of the application.
It’s typical for new technologies to drop in price once they become more widely available. The less novel they are, the more affordable they become, and we will likely see the same happen with VR technology as it becomes more widely adopted, both in the public and private sectors.
3. Latency Issues
A significant issue in the VR market is overcoming latency challenges. Latency is essentially the delay between signals sent and received to and from the VR software and VR hardware. Users want a seamless experience, but latency issues negatively affect the VR UX.
Overcoming the latency issue may be possible as engineers tap into mobile edge computing technology. VR is a bandwidth-intensive technology, but mobile edge computing is capable of higher computing capabilities, reducing latency and providing users a seamless VR experience.
4. Cybersecurity and Data Privacy
It’s suggested that more than half of today’s cell phone users are concerned about identity theft, fraud, confusion, stolen passwords, location tracking and data use. These cybersecurity and data privacy issues can be a challenge for developers. They need to embed strong security measures into their apps if they want to increase their app adoption rates and success in the competitive VR market.
As developers continue working to create their VR apps, it’ll become increasingly necessary to consider data privacy and cybersecurity. Developers must ensure that any user engaging with their VR app is protected and their information is secure. They should consider using the latest cybersecurity solutions and the best cybersecurity practices to protect their end-users.
5. Game Engine Limitations
Again, VR software development is still relatively new, meaning that developer tools may come with drawbacks. There is no perfect software solution VR app developers can use to create the ideal VR app.
A popular game engine in the VR community is called Unity. Developers and VR enthusiasts often take to online forums, such as Reddit, to discuss ongoing issues with Unity. These problems with developer tools can certainly make the development process frustrating and time-consuming.
Game engines like Unity may improve over time. Unity has a dedicated research team at its Unity Lab, where they create prototypes, experiment with new tech such as AI, engage in deep learning, and work on new projects. Hopefully, game engines can smooth out the kinks in their developer tools to make the development process easier.
6. VR Sickness Among Consumers
A new term has cropped up in the VR community — VR sickness. Essentially, VR sickness is a term that describes the negative physical effects some users experience while immersed in a VR world. Common symptoms include eye strain, nausea, dizziness, disorientation and motion sickness.
VR sickness is a new term, so there is no one solution that developers can use to overcome this challenge. However, suppose developers understand VR sickness and how it impacts the VR experience. In that case, they can work on creating immersive experiences that reduce the likelihood of a user suffering from VR sickness.
More research is needed to understand this phenomenon and how developers can create games that limit the chances of VR sickness.
7. Creative Blocks
While this challenge may seem obvious, it’s something worth mentioning. VR app developers are typically creative people, meaning they sometimes run into creative blocks that prevent them from moving forward with a VR app project. Developers may have difficulty harnessing their creativity to build these futuristic apps, making the process a bit more challenging.
Creative blocks are bound to happen. There is no “cure” for creative blocks, but the VR developer community is growing, meaning that other developers likely share the same experiences and may relate to each other. VR app developers can discuss their creative challenges, share tips and tricks to move past blocks, and brainstorm with like-minded developers to spark their creativity.
VR App Development: A Growing Profession
Many people believe that eventually, VR will become ubiquitous in society and seep into every aspect of life. Based on its current growth, it’s fair to say that the VR market, including the VR app development industry, will continue to thrive and generate revenue.
Developing a VR app is no walk in the park, and developers will face challenges. Developers need to understand these challenges and think about possible solutions to continue to progress in their app development process.