Pico 4: Bytedance pays top dollar for VR ports
Bytedance wants to beat Meta in the VR business and has a lot of catching up to do. This has advantages for VR studios.
According to a new report in the Wall Street Journal, Bytedance has offered some VR developers $15,000 to $25,000 per title, citing people familiar with the matter.
When asked for comment, a Bytedance spokesperson said that paying developers to bring their existing apps to a new platform is an industry norm.
The Pico Store currently has about 300 VR apps. The Meta Quest store has about 500 VR apps. The Pico and Tiktok parent company Bytedance still has some catching up to do, especially in terms of exclusive titles.
Meta welcomes the investment
Meta, meanwhile, is happy to see competitors investing in VR studios. “It’s a net positive for Meta that ByteDance has gotten into the VR market and is funding developers,” Chris Pruett, Meta’s director of content ecosystem, told The Wall Street Journal at GDC last month. “I want all boats to rise.”
Meta recently announced that it has funded the development of 300 Quest applications, with an additional 150 titles in development.
Meanwhile, some developers complain that they can't publish their apps in the Meta Quest store and have to use the App Lab instead, which isn't nearly as curated. Some are happy to see platform alternatives finally coming.
“It’s definitely exciting to see a major player come into the market and to challenge the way that Facebook has been doing things," VR developer Ben Outram tells the Wall Street Journal. Outram designed the tactile puzzle game Squingle, which has been awaiting release on the Meta Quest Store since July 2021 and is currently only available on the App Lab.
Pico 4: Still no US launch
Pico 4 was launched in Europe and a number of East Asian countries last September. Pico 4 has yet to be released in the largest VR market, the United States. A recent planned US launch was reportedly cancelled at the last minute.
According to a November 2022 report, the device has been selling below expectations. In addition, Pico is said to be struggling with internal disputes due to the rapid growth of its workforce.
Meanwhile, Meta is keeping up the pressure: In mid-March, the company lowered the price of the 256GB SKU of the Meta Quest 2, possibly to undercut the price of the same version of the Pico 4 in available countries.