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How Much Does Virtual Reality Development Cost?

Estimated read time: 7 minutes

Are you interested in knowing how much does virtual reality development cost? 

You’ve found the place with the answers.

First, let’s look at some of the essential features that your VR application should have. Then we will move on to estimates of development costs for these VR features. 

What features should your VR app have?

virtual reality development cost

You will likely use a virtual reality app to address a specific business requirement, therefore, you will have functional features in the app. Apart from that, the app should have the following VR-specific features:

  • The app should offer a stereoscopic 3D experience, by supporting 360 3D and 180 3D.
  • It should support various media types, e.g., 4K video, 8K video, etc.
  • The app needs to support multiple platforms, e.g., iOS, Android, Samsung Gear VR, HTC VIVE, Oculus Rift, etc.
  • You will likely use the virtual reality app in conjunction with your other apps, e.g., Autodesk for engineering use cases, therefore, the VR app should be compatible with such apps.
  • The app should be compatible with professional VR cameras, e.g., Insta360 PRO, iZugar Z2XL180, etc.
  • Users should be able to use it offline.
  • The app should provide analytics, e.g., it should have built-in Heatmaps for analyzing users’ eye-tracking data.

You can read more about these desired VR features here.

What does the virtual reality development cost estimate cover?

I will now briefly explain what this VR development cost estimation exercise covers, which are as follows:

  • It will cover the estimate for the generic VR app features that I have mentioned above.
  • This exercise will elaborate on the variables that come into play vis-à-vis estimating a software development project to build a VR app.

Let’s also understand what this exercise doesn’t cover, and these are as follows:

  • You are building a virtual reality app for a specific business use case with the associated functionalities. This estimate for virtual reality application development cost doesn’t cover that.
  • You need to plug the virtual reality development cost estimation variables into your environment. For e.g., you need to supply the labor rates in your geography so that you can get the development manpower cost from the person-months estimate. This exercise doesn’t cover that.

The variables for estimating the virtual reality development cost 

The variables for estimating the cost of a VR app development are as follows:

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  • Manpower: This refers to the development effort, and I will express it in person-months. I will also show the distribution of person-months across various roles, e.g., project manager, architect, developer, etc.
  • IT infrastructure: I will explain how you can find the pricing plan of a reputed managed cloud services provider, subsequently, you need to select the service tier for your requirements.
  • Tools: This refers to software development kits (SDKs), application programming interfaces (APIs), test automation frameworks, and project management tools. I will recommend the appropriate tools, and you will need to choose the pricing plan you need.
  • Administrative costs: This could be the cost of hiring developers, communication costs, travel costs, etc. You need to estimate them by considering factors like the local labor market, geography, etc.

Do you need help to arrive at a detailed cost estimate from the above-mentioned variables? We at DevTeam.Space can help.

The SDLC model: A factor for the cost estimation

Before I delve into the estimation process, let’s understand the SDLC model this project will likely use. Businesses use VR for their strategic projects, whether to let customers “try” products before they buy, or to improve productivity through improved training.

Such strategic projects typically have well-defined requirements, moreover, these projects have high visibility in the organization. Risk mitigation in such a high-stakes project requires thorough reviews after key milestones.

Projects like this should use the Waterfall SDLC model since this model stresses on requirements baselining and reviews after each phase. You can read more about this model in “What is software development life cycle and what you plan for?”.

In this exercise, I will estimate the person-months for the following phases of the Waterfall model:

  • Requirements gathering and analysis;
  • Design;
  • Development;
  • Testing;
  • Deployment;

Note: The maintenance phase will have post-deployment and warranty support, moreover, it may have longer-term maintenance. Businesses typically award separate annuity contracts for long-term maintenance, therefore, in this guide, I will cover post-deployment and warranty support only.

The development team: A key estimation factor

You will likely have the following roles in your development team:

  • A project manager (PM);
  • A software architect;
  • Business analysts;
  • UI designers;
  • VR developers;
  • Web developers;
  • Android and iOS developers, assuming you will target at least these two prominent mobile platforms;
  • Testers;
  • DevOps engineers.

I will show you the distribution of the person-months across these roles.

Estimating a software development project to create a VR app

I will now take you through the estimation, which is as follows:

1. Manpower estimation

The manpower estimation at the phase-level of granularity, accounting for the above-mentioned generic virtual reality app features, is as follows:

(A) Requirements gathering and analysis

The effort estimate for this phase is 4 person-months, with the following distribution by roles:

  • PM: 25%;
  • Architect: 25%;
  • Business analysts: 50%.

(B) Design:

An estimated 22-33 person-months are needed for this phase, and the distribution by roles is as follows:

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  • PM: 9%;
  • Architect: 9%;
  • Business analysts: 18%;
  • UI design lead: 9%;
  • VR development lead: 9%;
  • Web development lead: 9%;
  • Android development lead: 9%;
  • iOS development lead: 9%;
  • Test lead: 12%;
  • DevOps lead: 7%.

(C) Development:

The effort estimate for this phase is 60-72 months with the following role-wise distribution:

  • PM: 8%;
  • Architect: 8%;
  • UI designers: 16%;
  • VR developers: 20%;
  • Web developers: 16%;
  • Android developers: 16%;
  • iOS developers: 16%.

(D) Testing:

This phase requires an estimated 24-36 person-months, and the distribution by roles is as follows:

  • PM: 5%;
  • Architect: 5%;
  • Developers and UI designers: 35%;
  • Testers: 50%;
  • DevOps engineers: 5%.

(E) Deployment:

Much of the work in this phase can actually happen at the time of design and development since the DevOps engineers would need to set up the deployment processes and environments. This would help them to expedite the deployment when the time comes.

The effort estimate for this phase is 6 person-months, and the distribution by roles is as follows:

  • PM: 5%;
  • Architect: 10%;
  • DevOps engineers: 85%.

(F) Maintenance:

The effort estimate for the deployment support and warranty period assumes that this phase has a 3-months duration. The estimated effort is 30 person-months with the following distribution by roles:

  • PM: 5%;
  • Architect: 5%;
  • Designers and developers: 45%;
  • Testers: 35%;
  • DevOps engineers: 10%.

2. Virtual Reality Development IT infrastructure cost estimation

I assume you would buy managed cloud services to meet your IT infrastructure needs, therefore, I recommend AWS. Its cloud capabilities are excellent, and you can get the following managed services:

  • If you only need Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), you can sign-up for AWS Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).
  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk is the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering from AWS, and it addresses aspects like cloud infrastructure, networking, databases, operating system, middleware, and runtime environment. Consider this for the VR web app development since you can use the AWS DevOps services, moreover, you can easily integrate 3rd party APIs.
  • For the mobile app, you can use AWS Amplify, i.e., the mobile backend-as-a-service (MBaaS) offering from AWS, which makes it easier to develop scalable and performant mobile apps.

AWS pricing plans are available on its website, and you only need to select an appropriate tier.

3. Virtual Reality Development Tools cost estimation

I recommend the following tools for this project:

(A) Amazon Sumerian as the VR solution

Amazon Sumerian is the reputed VR/AR solution from Amazon, and you can use it easily on AWS cloud platforms. It has several advantages, e.g.:

  • Developers find it easy to create VR apps with it.
  • Sumerian works with all popular VR platforms like Oculus Go, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, etc.
  • It also supports both iOS and Android.

You can find its pricing plan on its website.

(B) Experitest test automation aids

You will need to test your web and mobile apps against different browsers and mobile devices, moreover, you need to contend with different versions of browsers and devices. You also need robust test reports and analytics.

I recommend test automation aids from Experitest, and you should consider the following solutions:

You can view the pricing plans of the Experitest solutions on its website.

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(C) Wrike for project management

The PM should use a robust tool for managing this project, and I recommend Wrike for this. You can find its pricing plan on its website.

(D) Other tools

You will use IDEs like Eclipse, Android Studio, and Xcode for developing the web, Android, and iOS apps respectively, and these are free. You might need a Java license, and you can find more information about it here.

4. Administrative virtual reality development cost estimation

You need to typically account for the following administrative costs:

Planning to launch a VR app?

According to a study done by Cision PR Newswire, “The global market for AR and VR is segmented is expected to reach USD 571.42 Billion by 2025.” The market for virtual reality solutions is expanding and it is just the right time to plan your own virtual reality apps.

In this guide I have explained how you can estimate a software development project to create a VR app, however, you also need to plan how you approach this project. Such high-stakes projects are typically complex, and you should consider taking help from a reputed software development company.

Read our guide “How to find the best software development company?” before you choose one.

If you are still on a hunt for competent software development partners experienced in the latest virtual reality technologies, then DevTeam.Space can help you with its field-expert software developers community.

You can partner with these high-quality app developers vetted thoroughly for their software app development expertise by filling out this quick form with your initial virtual or augmented reality development requirements. One of our account managers will get back to you instantly for further assistance with the virtual reality development process.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between VR and AR?

VR stands for virtual reality. VR is a complete emersion technology that allows users to interact entirely in a 3D-generated world. AR stands for Augmented Reality. AR involves the manipulation of the real-world environment with generated images rather than being an alternate virtual environment as with VR.

What is a VR app?

A VR app is any application that uses VR in some form or another. VR apps such as games and training simulations immerse the user in an alternate 3D world.

How to find VR developers?

It can take quite a bit of time to find good developers for developing virtual reality applications. Try to find companies like DevTeam.Space that have lots of experience in VR and AR development. Such companies also guarantee the quality of the code they produce.


Alexey Semeney

Founder of DevTeam.Space

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