How come there are so many third-party VR headset manufacturers?

I wonder why there are so many VR headste manufacturers, that at the end of the day, most developers will focus developing games and apps for the most popular ones, the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift Gear VR and Google Cardboard. So it doesn’t matter how good there are, developer will prefer the platform that have better Unreal Engine or Unity support and one that has the potential to reach the largest audience. So why the market is full of third-party VR headset?

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Indeed there are many virtual reality headset manufacturers, but keep in mind that many of them are following the design guidelines of Google Cardboard. This means that there might look different, have better optics and be more comfortable, but they can only run Google Cardboard games. Other headsets have support for both Android and iOS VR games and are compatible with both iPhone and other Android smartphones, like the Carl Zeiss VR One Plus, which is a premium viewer that is compatible with both iPhone and Samsung Galaxy phones.

Of course there are some companies that try to build a better VR system than what the Vive and Rift has to offer in this current generation and some of them also come up with their own prosperity accessories to enhance the gameplay experience.

The VR market is new so this is the best time for people to innovate in the field, before the market will stabilizes. As for now, most developers will definitely focus in developer apps and games for the Vive, Rift, Cardboard, GearVR and PlayStation VR, as those are the most popular ones. The PlayStation VR isn’t out yet (will be released next month), but because it’s the only compatible headset for the PlayStation 4, we can expect it to be very popular.

The thing is that unlike some other gaming related gadget, behind that VR headset stand very powerful companies, which makes it harder for other manufacturers to compete against. That being said, the same goes for mobile phones, and you can see that many Chinese manufacturers are calling a challenge every year on Sony, Samsung, HTC and Apple, showcasing some remarkable phones. The main difference here that most of these phones are Android based, so they use the same platform. The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are equivalent to phones in that regard, but the main difference here is that those headsets become like an independent platform, although both run on Windows OS/PC. Each one has its own unique proprietary hardware and developing for both isn’t that straightforward.

A new VR platform Google Daydream will soon hit the market. Developers now will need to develop for a new headset, and because we are talking about Google here, as a developer, you don’t want to miss out the marketing potential of developing a game for this particular platform.

Oculus and Vive aren’t the only companies out there that aim to conquer the high-end gaming VR market, and you can expect to see many other companies trying to get a piece of the pie while the market is still young.

Anyways, it’s interesting to follow on all the new technology innovation in the field. Just take a look at KickStarter and other crowdfunding websites and you can see plenty of companies who try to make something different and improve upon what’s out there on the market.

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Didn’t expect such a lengthy answer, thanks. It’s always good to innovate and compete, but I guess that it’s easier and probably better financially wise, to do it when the virtual reality market is young instead of trying to compete in a stale and well established market.

Like in the mobile market, only a few of the largest cooperation will rules this industry, this includes Samsung, HTC, Google, Oculus and Sony, while all the other competitors will probably vanish because Google Cardboard will lose its popularity and the main focus would be on the mid-range and high-end devices, especially considering that the VR technology will get cheaper and cheaper each year, allowing more people to enjoy high-quality VR experience, much better than what the Google Cardboard and Gear VR provide. With Google daydream coming in October, I wonder how long an Samsung hold its place as a leader in the mobile VR industry, I’m sure Google is going to get the crown in a a year or two.