· 6 min read

Apple’s Vision Pro: what will it do for the gaming industry?

Apple's new mixed-reality headset, Vision Pro, sets the stage for a revolution in spatial computing, presenting unique opportunities and challenges for developers preparing for a future shaped by immersive technologies.

At the start of June, Apple announced the Vision Pro – a headset that marks the “era of spatial computing”. We’d call it a mixed-reality headset. Part VR, part desktop computer, part entertainment system. You can either fully immerse yourself in a virtual world or you can blend the image of your apps over the real world.

This week, Apple also announced the release of Apple Vision Pro developer kits, with developers able to apply to receive a kit. Developers will be provided with an Apple Vision Pro “loaner” that will allow them to develop and test apps.

Pretty interesting. It’s not entirely new, of course. There are other headsets out there already that promise similar features. But these haven’t quite broken into our day-to-day lives.

The Vision Pro will likely become commonplace

At a starting price of around $3,500 – we won’t see it in the wild until the beginning of next year. So it’ll take a while before everyone starts buying one. But Apple’s brand recognition alone is likely to catapult the technology into quite a few people’s homes. It’s also very likely that Apple will focus heavily on the actual experience and make it feel as slick as when the first iPhone launched.

They’re also pitching it quite differently to other headsets – which are usually exclusively targeted at gaming or enterprise. Instead, Apple is focusing on an addition – potentially a replacement – for your desktop and TV. That’s likely to appeal to quite a few people and will help Apple gain a lot of ground. It’s a better use case for the majority of people.

We imagine that we’ll soon see lighter and cheaper versions – eventually replacing our phones with sleek glasses. By then, most of the apps that people use day to day will already be developed. So it’ll just be about making the device itself more portable. Sure, it’ll take a while. But that price is bound to drop.

This creates a lot of opportunities for gaming

According to The Verge, Vision Pro will have at least 100 Apple Arcade games when it first launches, which bodes well for other developers.

In fact, it’s likely the Vision Pro will appeal to techies and normies alike. Sure, at first only the hardcore people will afford it. But that’ll soon change. As soon as it’s affordable, it’ll be the people who want a massive TV but don’t have the room. Or people who just want to relax and browse the internet.

Wccftech reports that Apple originally had a target to sell one million devices, but that they’ve lowered that to 150,000. While it’s a big drop, it seems a sensible decision. And the next iteration could be far cheaper and far more ubiquitous.

And as that number grows, we’ll start to see people play around with the fact that it’s a mixed reality. Apps will start to interact with the real world. Simply, at first. And then growing in complexity.

Like with the smartphone, these people won’t see the Vision Pro as a ‘gaming’ device. But they’ll start to use it for games. The casual and hardcore gamer alike will get one – and they’ll both want to see what it can do. That’s where the opportunity lies for developers.

What will you create?

We see three kinds of game that will come out of the Vision Pro:

  1. The immersive game. These will likely be big, intense games that use the hardware to its full potential. Games that completely immerse you in the world, while letting you interact with the real world. It’ll probably take a year or so before we start seeing these, though. They’ll take a long time to design and develop.
  2. The ported games. These will be the games that are already out in the world, but ported over to the Vision Pro. Some will just need some adjustment to work with the new controller system (the Vision Pro uses a gesture-based approach). But these games will essentially be played on a virtual screen projected in front of you. So we’ll see mobile and console games alike being ported over to work on the Vision Pro.
  3. The innovative games. There’s a whole realm of opportunity here for fun, casual games that interact directly with the world. Even something as simple as being able to bounce a ball off the wall or toss virtual paper into a real bin to score points.

These games will be small at first. Maybe little more than time-wasters and prototypes. Single mechanics that bring people a little joy. But they’ll mark a shift in how we interact with games in general. Those mechanics will bleed over into the big immersive games, as players begin to expect them as standard.

In the same way that we saw an explosion of games when the first computers were released – and again with the smartphone – we’ll see a huge surge of exploration and experimentation.

A lot will likely be on the casual side, until the hardware is beefy enough to handle the quality we’ve come to expect from our computers and consoles. They’ll be the Minesweeper and Solitaire of the future.

Get familiar with Unity

If you want to get started developing for Vision Pro, you should get familiar with visionOS. But one interesting note is that they specifically call out Unity. You can even check out Unity Beta for spatial experiences.

You’ll need to create your own benchmarks

As with any new technology, there won’t be standards and best practices for quite some time. You’ll need to track and analyze your own data to find what works and what doesn’t. If you’re using our tool, we recommend learning how to create custom events, so that you can make sure you’re getting all the data you need.

We also have a ‘Heatmaps’ feature currently in Beta, which should help you begin to track spatial analytics for AR/VR games. To request access, just get in touch via our contact form. In the meantime, sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date with anything we release to help you on your journey.