IT Strategy

How R&D and Other Factors Affect Cost of VR Application Development

Virtual reality (VR) is going through a period of acceleration. It is expected to be worth about $30 billion by 2020.

This doesn’t come as a surprise as this innovative technology is already being applied successfully within industries like architecture, education, healthcare, and the military.

Furthermore, it’s also a fantastic tool for brands to interact with their target market, but right now, the VR app market is still very much unoccupied, which is going to change dramatically sooner than later.

If you’re thinking of VR app development, you have to think about the costs, but this isn’t an easy question for one to answer.

The final cost of development will depend on multiple variables that will impact every stage of the build.

VR app development can be divided into mobile VR apps and mobile VR games.

The first is cheaper as it will probably set you about around $40K to $70K while a mobile VR game can easily cost more than $100K.

These are typical VR app development costs to help give you an idea of what you’re about to get into. Depending on the complexity of your VR app, you can expect to pay much more.

Research & Development

The whole project can fall under research and development (R&D) because the process involves the following:

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  • Creating user stories
  • Planning and distribution
  • Researching the best options during the creation process

It’s important to note that R&D can have a significant impact on your final development costs, but it’s all relative.

For example, during every phase of the build, the developer will have to research the best way to implement a feature or function.

If these features or functions are common, a seasoned developer will be able to code them from memory or reusable. In this scenario, it wouldn’t eat up much of your time or budget.

But if the build requires more complex or unique capabilities. Best in the business will have to spend a significant amount of time to conduct adequate research to ensure that the design works.

Furthermore, implementation of cutting-edge capabilities might involve a lot of trial and error scenarios. So the longer it takes to get it right, the more you can end up paying for it.

If you can limit the unknowns before handing over the project to the development team, you can control your expenses to a certain degree.

This is because VR apps can be built with different levels of complexity like how realistic you want the graphics to be or the level of interactivity you would like to achieve.

This is because VR apps can be built with different levels of complexity like how realistic you want the graphics to be or the level of interactivity you would like to achieve.

The more real it feels, the more it will cost!

Check out our Software Development Team programs for any project complexity and budget.

For example, even if you don’t want to provide much interaction and just want to offer an immersive 3D viewing experience, a professional video stretching for 360-degree views can easily cost as much as $10,000 per minute.

VR Platform

The platform you choose for your VR application development project will have the highest impact on your development costs.

This is because there’s a huge difference between the time it takes to develop an app for Google Cardboard than a fully immersive and interactive software package for HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

At the same time, you have to consider the fact that the Cardboard’s simplicity will limit the commercial viability of the applications it serves.

As a result, this can be achieved with one or two developers on your team at most. But when you’re developing for high-end headsets, you can deliver extremely complex VR experiences that can easily break the bank.

However, this doesn’t mean that you have to take advantage of all the high-end capabilities a headset has to offer.

Instead, you can always develop a cheaper low-end application for an Oculus Rift without any of the bells and whistles.

The best way to choose the platform that’s right for your application is to focus on your target audience.

Furthermore, you have to figure out which platform offers the features and functions that you want in your application.

Development Methodology & Location

The methodology used by your developer or VR development team will also have a significant impact on your overall cost.

For example, a proven cost-effective development methodology for application development is Agile.

Agile is a great choice as it ensures that your application is developed with transparency, flexibility, and frequent iterations.

This approach has also been proven to offer greater customer satisfaction, high-quality products, and less rework.

The payment model you choose will also have to be taken into consideration to ensure that you don’t have any surprises later on. Most developers like to go with a fixed price model or a time and materials model.

The fixed price model will prevent overruns and development costs from falling way beyond your budget.

Time and materials, on the other hand, can leave you exposed to unlimited charges that can quickly drain your development budget.

Finally, the geographical location of the VR application development team can also have a significant impact on your bottom line.

Developers in the United States command top dollar while Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Asia offer outsourcing rates that are significantly lower.

However, if you choose the outsourcing route, you have to take several factors into consideration:

  • Developer’s quality record
  • Track record for meeting deadlines
  • Record for staying on budget
  • Will there be a language barrier?
  • Time difference

As you can see, brands shouldn’t shy away from VR application development just based on cost alone.

With a bit of research, you can make educated decisions to develop your VR application while keeping costs down.

Are you looking to build a dedicated VR app dev team or hire a professional provider to take care of your product development?
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IT Storyteller and Copywriter
Andrew's current undertaking is big data analytics and AI as well as digital design and branding. He is a contributor to various publications with the focus on emerging technology and digital marketing.