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Mobile VR 101 - 5 Tips to Get Started

If you are a mobile game developer excited about the possibility of creating VR experiences, now is the perfect time to start thinking about making games for mobile VR headsets. Here are 5 tips you should consider when planning your mobile VR experience.

Remember when VR was just a cool idea? Then all of a sudden, it’s an explosive reality. It’s even on mobile with anticipated billion dollar market potential in 2016. If you are a mobile game developer excited about the possibility of creating VR experiences, now is the perfect time to start thinking about making games for mobile VR headsets. While there aren’t as many mobile VR headsets as there are mobile devices (yet), this first wave of headsets is more than enough to get your head around (no pun intended).

5 Tips to Get Started

Performance and optimization have never been more important. The difference between a game screen held one or two feet from your face vs. attached to your face is like the difference between an old tube television and one of the new Ultra HD 4K television. It’s huge. Games simply need to run better in VR. Focusing on performance and optimization and maximizing frame rate will help mitigate the risk of perceived poor visual fidelity, unsatisfying user experience and even motion sickness.

Learn about the features of each of the mobile VR headsets. More and more mobile game developers, as well as several VR headset manufacturers, are jumping into the fray. Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, the View-Master VR viewer, I AM Cardboard, and Knox Labs are just a few of the mobile VR headsets out there, each with their own design approach to delivering a VR experience on mobile. For example, both the View-Master viewer and Google Cardboard rely on the touch screen, however; View-Master uses a physical lever to touch the screen and Google Cardboard uses magnets in close proximity to the screen to simulate “touch”. The difference between those two control systems can have a significant impact on user experience. Mobile game developers should get to know all of them and determine which best supports the type of experience they want to deliver.

Mobile VR

The advantages of a high pixel density screen are indisputable. Phones with pixel densities are very advantageous to delivering a quality mobile VR gaming experience. Most mobile VR headsets use magnifying glasses to help enhance and focus the phone screen. This can result in some lenses simply distorting the image on certain device screens so a high pixel density screen makes a huge difference. There are many Android phones on the market that meet these requirements (ie: The Samsung Galaxy line) and of course the ever popular Apple iPhones with Retina displays.

Little magnets get lost. Many mobile VR headsets rely on magnets that are built into them to simulate pressing on the device screen. The variations in screen size and touch sensitivities across the many mobile devices on the market can result in magnets not registering for all devices. This leaves the user tapping the device, re-inserting the device into the headset or having to apply lots of pressure to the headset buttons. Unfortunately, this can all lead to losing magnets, rendering the headset useless.

Mobile VR is inexpensive and super fun! The fascination with mobile VR gaming continues and for good reason. It’s an interesting, evolving and extremely immersive game experience and it’s available on your mobile device. Mobile VR headsets start at just $10 or $20. This level of accessibility means every mobile consumer can live the dream! For game developers, mobile VR games are an inexpensive way to test the VR waters, adding a new element to their game designs.

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