After I got my Rift DK2 in 2014, I saw online that someone needed user testing for a game they made. There weren’t many VR experiences available at the time, and I was desperate to try anything, so I volunteered. The developer hadn’t even received his DK2 yet. On some level I realized it was risky to try this knowing he developed the experience without testing it on himself first. Still, the short time I spent in that app resulted in the worst encounter I’ve had yet with simulator sickness. I spend 30 minutes nursing a headache in bed.
So when Geoff Skow told me about his startup Fishbowl VR and its plan for user testing (example here), I thought back to that moment and winced. While I did my testing for free and effectively paid a price for it, Fishbowl VR testers, according to Skow, get around $10 per playthrough if they record a video and answer a survey. To access free and unreleased content, “a lot of them say they would do it for free,” he said. With demand like that and access to headsets proliferating, how much testers get paid could change.
In March, COLOPL invested in a seed round in Fishbowl VR and the company’s early customers are said to include several well-known pieces of software, including Titans of Space and Altpace. Skow gave a ballpark number of around 500 testers using Fishbowl right now.
Testing is a major part of every piece of software, especially games, but Skow explained Fishbowl is trying to service the specific needs of the VR industry. While the gameplay mechanics of traditional games are essentially mapped out already, VR devs are in uncharted territory with head tracking and gesture controls.
“You’re reliant on getting fresh perspectives and candid feedback,” he said.
As far as simulator sickness, Skow says there are far fewer reports than when he started.