After years of rumors, Apple finally unveiled its Apple Vision Pro mixed reality headset today at its Worldwide Developer Conference. And game devs gave their reactions.
There are lots of developers on-site at Apple’s headquarters, but we’ve gathered reactions from developers and other tech companies — including rivals — to see what they think.
Numerous developers said the headset was overpriced at $3,499, and they were not impressed with the two-hour battery life. It’s also coming later than expected with a launch in early 2024. Others noted that the device is only compatible with Apple hardware and doesn’t give a nod to the open metaverse. For a while, things you can do “for $3,500” was trending on Twitter. You can expect that the meme makers are hard at work on making fun of Apple for launching a consumer device with a price meant for dev kits.
“They’ll sell every one they can make, but it’s not a mainstream gaming device. $3,500 is simply too much to hit the mainstream,” said Jon Kimmich, a veteran game maker.
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Apple said there would be more than 100 Apple Arcade games available at the launch, but all it showed was NBA 2K23 from Take-Two Interactive — for a few seconds.
Investors weren’t too impressed, as Apple’s stock price closed down 0.76% today at $179.58 a share. Apple is still worth $2.82 trillion in the stock market.
Cher Wang, chairwoman at rival headset maker HTC Vive, said she welcomed Apple and the attention it can bring to the XR (extended reality) industry. That was a familiar refrain.
“As a leader in the XR industry, we are thrilled to extend a warm welcome to Apple as they venture into the vibrant XR community. With our years of dedicated innovation and commitment to pushing the boundaries, we eagerly embrace the arrival of a company that shares our unwavering pursuit of technological excellence, user privacy, and human-centered design,” said Wang in a statement. “Together, we have a unique opportunity to collaborate, inspire each other, and reshape the future of XR experiences, making a profound impact on the lives of businesses and consumers alike.”
That was a common reaction. If Apple enters the market, it becomes legit and all participants in the ecosystem ought to benefit, the logic goes.
“It’s important for the future of XR for Apple to finally get into this space and further legitimize its future,” said Kate Edwards, CEO of Geogrify, and a game industry consultant. “Is Vision Pro the iPhone revolution for XR? No, not in this iteration, but it sets a path for the type of AR/VR device that will likely be seen as useful by far more people. Hopefully, this is a gauntlet throw-down, that will encourage Meta and others to step up to the functionality of Vision Pro.”
Others wanted to see the killer application from Apple. Dylan Cuthbert, a veteran game developer, said he didn’t see a killer app for it, though he expects Apple fans will buy the first few million devices. But the killer app is necessary to get it to the mass market.
“As with every platform, it comes down to the software and making a compelling experience that cannot be built in any other way,” said Trent Oster, CEO of Beamdog, in a message. “The iPhone enabled Uber and AirBnB by converging technology. Apple Vision Pro needs a similar convergence to take off. The killer app will have to be a commercial application to justify the price point.”
Most brands are unlikely to dive in yet until there is mass adoption, but we’ll likely see an uptick in the number of brands experimenting with the technology. Again, that’s good for the ecosystem.
“Most brands won’t invest in complex VR experiences until there’s a broader demand for those metaverse-type experiences, but it’s likely we’ll see an uptick in the number of brands experimenting with augmented reality (AR) and other, more established immersive concepts such as 3D and 360-degree images and videos given that they can more easily integrate into existing consumer websites and apps,” said Tal Lev-Ami, CTO at Cloudinary, in a statement. “It’s also likely that VR adoption in industries such as e-commerce will follow a similar path to Generative AI, where there are limitations to large-scale adoption now, but the long-term impact it will have on consumer experiences is ultimately hard to overstate.” –
XRAI Glass CEO Dan Scarfe noted it was the worst-kept secret in consumer electronics history.
“This is both a huge gamble for Apple and also a huge validation to the nascent XR ecosystem. Apple launching a device suddenly legitimizes work many companies have been doing for years,” Scarfe said. “While this first edition of new glasses is unlikely to be a best-seller, they provide further validation of life beyond smartphones. A world in a decade where we will no longer carry phones and instead consume content from our always-on glasses.”
Urho Konttori, Varjo’s CTO, believes Apple’s entrance into XR is an important moment for the industry.
“Apple’s entrance into XR with Vision Pro is an important moment for our whole industry,” said Konttori in a message. “Mixed reality is already a fixture in the enterprise sector, and the innovative technologies pioneered by Varjo have changed the way the world’s biggest companies work, train, design, conduct research, and collaborate. We hope today is the turning point for consumers when it starts being part of their everyday lives too, with promising applications for entertainment, personal productivity, and communication.”
Game journalist Kyle Orland was “kind of amazed at how little gaming was a part of that Vision Pro announcement, considering how much of a focus it has been for VR so far.” I felt the same way, though it makes sense that you have to announce it before all of the game devs really throw their weight behind it. But game devs are the taste makes, as they know how to use game engines (like the Unity engine supported by Apple) and they will produce the most important apps for the device.
And Patrick Klepek said it felt like Apple was charging money for a developer kit and calling it a product.
Game developer Mark DeLoura said, “Who doesn’t love cutting-edge tech? Yay! Now, who doesn’t want to make games for a device that’ll have a tiny user base due to the price point? Apple will need to incentivize many of our favorite game developers with some [dollars] to support it, if they want games on it, which will be great for the devs.”
Dmitri Williams, professor of communications at USC, said, “I was struck by how little AR they covered in the reveal. The closest I saw was their spatial audio showing shapes in a room, which suggests the LIDAR and forward-facing cameras *can* do cool stuff.”
Johannes Vuorinen, CEO of HypeHype, said, “Amazing product. Feels like a future phone replacement when the device eventually gets smaller and smaller (and cheaper). This is supported by the fact that they demoed existing iOS apps/games compatibility including our Badland.”
Adnan Chaumette, CEO of Polygonflow, said, “Pricing is not a problem but a feature: For the next two to three years, developers will have the first state-of-the-art computing headset on which they can create future-proof applications, which is exactly what Apple is doing here: they don’t care about consumers just yet. They want to give developers everything they need to fill the Vision app store with content, and by the time the developers are done, it’s likely that Apple will have reduced the cost enough to broaden the user base ever so slightly. This is basically Meta’s strategy but with more confidence.”
Michael Sullivan, a Unity developer, said there isn’t anything new here except for the passthrough tech.
“I’ve been making spatial aware VR/AR content for 10 years now; it’s not anything new,” he said. “Having all the tech in one space, cool! It’s a great piece of tech and the Spatial 3D Video capture will absolutely sell the heck out of these things to the Apple loyalists. The integration with the other devices is great, but anyone with a computer and a VR/AR headset can set up similar scenarios with little effort these days.”
He added, “I’m a Unity developer, love that it seems it will be easy to port some of my experiences there, but I hope there is a path for using our current devices to test the experiences. I’m not buying the headset to deploy. The other big thing though, not much compatibility to anything OTHER than Apple. My wife owns a few but they are not centric in my own development efforts. The price tags on these devices are blown way out of proportion in my opinion.”
Alexey Menshikov, an XR developer and CEO of Beatshapers, said the screen and design were cool. The M2 silicon seemed powerful, the battery life was normal for such devices, and capturing 3D videos was cool. But he noted it is targeted at single-player usage, with no indication of co-located experience. He was concerned that there are no hardware controllers but noted gamepads will probably be fine. And it’s not clear if it will be suitable for large spaces.
And he noted there was no Unreal Engine support mentioned. That’s no surprise, as the companies are still locked in litigation over Epic’s antitrust lawsuit.
A spokesperson for Unity said, “We’re excited to deliver Unity’s powerful and familiar real-time 3D tools and capabilities to Apple Vision Pro, so our huge community of passionate developers can bring new and existing Unity-created apps and games to this exciting new spatial computing platform. With visionOS and Unity’s PolySpatial technology, we can’t wait to see the new apps and games Unity developers will create for Vision Pro.”
“High fidelity passthrough is a game changer for collaboration. We can’t wait to build on it. Campfire is coming to Vision Pro,” said Jay Wright, CEO of enterprise XR firm Campfire.
“This is the dawn of the spatial era of computing. Out of the box, Spatial will be one of the only platforms connecting Vision Pro + Meta Quest users. We’re excited to bring one million of our UGC Unity-based worlds to this new Apple headset,” said Anand Agarawala, CEO of Spatial.
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