On Meta Quest, many new VR games are struggling
Many new VR games are failing in the Quest Store, including some high quality titles, which is not a positive sign for the ecosystem.
Quest 2's hefty price increase in the summer of 2022 certainly had the biggest impact on this development, but it isn't the only factor. The early announcement of Meta Quest 3, which is coming in the fall, will also keep many people from buying Quest 2 right now, even if the new device only complements Quest 2 instead of replacing it, and at a higher price.
App ratings as an indicator of success
However, the desire to buy games among the existing user base also seems to have decreased, at least judging by app ratings in the Quest Store.
Developers are not allowed to publish sales figures, but there is a rough indicator of the financial success or failure of a premium app: the number of ratings it has received in the Quest Store. If you assume that an average of 1 percent of all buyers leave a rating, then you can roughly estimate the revenue.
Whether a VR app is ultimately profitable, or at least able to recoup its development costs, depends on factors such as team size and development time. If it is a small studio or even a solo project like Compound, it takes less revenue to make a VR app profitable.
The vitality of an ecosystem depends on developers earning enough to fund new projects. Otherwise, the marketplace is doomed in the long run.
Fewer VR hits than in 2022?
Looking at the 2023 Quest Store releases, we see that there is only one VR game that received 1,000 or more ratings: the tactical shooter Breachers, with 2,264 ratings. Only three titles received between 500 and 999 ratings: Battle Talent, The Light Brigade, and GRID Legends. Most new VR games don't even get to 100 ratings.
Quality titles like Another Fisherman's Tale (82), Ghost Signal: A Stellaris Game (158) or Eye of the Temple (203) are still waiting for their well-deserved audience.
For VR games released in 2022, things look better. Here, I counted 15 titles that received 1,000 or more ratings, and 16 more titles that received between 500 and 999 ratings. However, these VR apps also had a significantly longer time to catch on with users.
Now, as expected, VR usage declines in the summer, and some titles become success stories over the years, especially if they are maintained over the long term and provided with new content.
But VR development seems riskier in 2023 than in previous years, if only because the choice of VR apps is growing, and so is the competition. It is possible that Meta Quest 3 will provide a new boost starting in the fall. But that remains to be seen.