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How to Make Money with a Google Daydream VR App

The official launch of Google Daydream is imminent. And with such a game changing platform nearing ever closer to being made available on such a grand scale, many developers will now be asking themselves “how can I start making money with Daydream VR Apps?

Good question!

As a mass-market VR play from Google, it appears the tech giant’s intention is to operate Daydream at a similar scale to their Android OS. This will one day equate to hundreds of millions of VR users around the world.

This level of adoption means Daydream VR apps could be very lucrative. And as part of an industry projected to be worth $30bn by 2020, many Virtual Reality developers will be keen to take full advantage of this exciting new marketplace.

So, how exactly should you go about earning money from a Daydream app? Let’s find out.

Making Money from VR Apps

When it comes down to it, the options for generating revenue from VR apps really won’t be any different to those available for smartphone apps.

They can be broken down into three broad categories:

  1. Free-to-download (with ads)
  2. Premium
  3. Freemium

Let’s take a look at these in more detail.

Free-to-download (with ads)

Firstly, free-to-download apps rely upon frequent usage so as to make sure ad impressions are generated, which in turn leads to revenue.

Now, you’re probably familiar with how this works in a free smartphone app. Often ads are served between screens or levels, almost forcing eyeballs on the advertisement before the user can progress.

But how will this work in a Virtual environment? Surely there’s an argument that an ad flashing up between levels in a VR game will only serve to break the feeling of immersion.

Well, the fact is – in the early days of VR at least – users are much more willing to engage with ads in VR than in mobile or desktop. And Mihir Shah, the CEO of the VR advertising platform Immersv that discovered this above average level of engagement, is adamant that this is merely the beginning.

Speaking to a VentureBeat panel, Shah said that VR represents a “ginormous space” for ads, and that ad revenue from VR apps is currently between $0.03 to $0.10 per view.

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What’s more, he believes that a year from now VR app developers will have the potential to make up to $50k per day from ads alone.


The next option is to go down the route of creating and selling a premium VR application for a one-off price in the Daydream app store.

To effectively earn money from a VR app using this model, your focus must lie with making the best possible user experience. Positive word-of-mouth and reviews are imperative to boosting downloads, and therefore revenue, in the early days of VR.

To do this, you must avoid falling into the trap of creating something that’s all style and no substance. You must build a VR app that the user will want to return to time and again to justify their initial investment. Otherwise you run the risk of sabotaging your own app by leaving it open to poor reviews.


FInally, there’s the freemium model. This is when the app is free to download, and basic features are available, but the more advanced features must be paid for, usually via in-app purchases and microtransactions.

Often reviled by hardcore gamers, there’s no denying that it is an effective – and lucrative – strategy. You only need to look at the success of Candy Crush to appreciate how well it can work.

However, there are some reservations from Google as to how exactly this sort of model would work in the Daydream ecosystem. In fact, they’ve gone as far as to suggest that in-app purchases in Virtual Reality applications just won’t work.

And they have a point. By encouraging users to make in-app purchases or microtransactions, you are effectively breaking their feeling of presence and immersion in the virtual world you’ve painstakingly created for them.

Just imagine playing a VR game to the point where you’ve almost forgotten you’re sitting in your living room with a Daydream View headset on – and then suddenly the game pauses and you snap back to reality as you’re asked to either wait 30 minutes or make a purchase before you can progress to the next level. How quickly do you think you’d uninstall that app after that?

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It should be pointed out that including in-app purchases won’t preclude your app from being available to Daydream users – it is merely a guideline from Google that they be avoided – but you must think carefully before choosing this option.

In Summary

Google wants VR app developers to create user experiences that are incredibly interactive, lengthy, and worthwhile. And they want to avoid the ‘freemium’ mechanics that could jeopardise the feeling of presence.

While smartphone apps can be used just about anywhere, the Daydream apps will almost certainly be used exclusively at home. Because of this, they are likely to compete with established games consoles and other forms of entertainment such as streaming for our leisure time.

If a Daydream user sits down to play a VR game or explore a VR app, they are likely to do so for 30 minutes or longer. This means the content needs to be immersive, longform, interactive and substantial.

In short, create the best possible user experience and the revenue will follow.

How Can AppReal-VR Help?

As a talented and dedicated team of VR developers, we pride ourselves on being ahead of the curve. We’ve been eagerly anticipating the launch of Google Daydream, and we’re ready to work with innovative and forward-thinking businesses to create incredible VR applications.

With unrivalled experience in custom app development across a number of diverse industries, we can help guide your idea from concept to completion, producing a VR app that will enthrall and engage your customers, and make your industry sit up and take notice.

If you’d like to turn your daydream into a Daydream reality, contact us today to speak with one of our app development experts.


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