How to Calculate the Actual Cost of Developing AR and VR Technology

Many companies around the world are using and developing AR/VR apps for business. However, their uses are not limited to just business. Educational institutions, hospitals, and individuals are also using AR/VR apps. Research shows that the virtual and augmented reality applications market will hit $150 billion by year 2020.

It’s an exciting time for immersive technology, but with the expanding market, how can you determine the actual cost of developing an AR/VR application? In this post, you will gain an understanding of how to calculate the of developing an AR/VR app. Each immersive technology has its cost association; we will talk about the cost of each separately. This approach should keep things simple and easy to follow.

Virtual Reality Development

VR app development cost boils down to the type of content you want to create. Do you need a mobile VR app or a VR game? Some VR apps can be built with 360-degree videos, whereas other apps can be built inside complete Computer Graphic (CG)-based environments. The amount of scale and complexity you desire will determine your total cost. Here are some ballpark figures:

  • 360-degree 3-D Interactive Video: $10,000 per minute filmed, plus post-production.
  • CG-based Environment/Non-gaming mobile app: Between $40,000 and $70,000.
  • CG-based Gaming apps: Between $50,000 and $100,000.

These numbers act as baseline figures to help you cost out your particular VR project.

Augmented Reality Development

AR app development is similar to VR app development except augmented reality needs fewer development stages. Little development is necessary because AR is 3-D objects overlaid onto real-world objects.

The four most common Augmented Reality apps are:

Marker-based AR

Marker-based AR, a.k.a. Image Recognition based AR gives more data about a scanned object after the user focuses on a pre-defined tag. After the user’s front-facing camera detects the sticker, the smart device presents the information about the object on the screen. The development cost for this type of AR app is between $5,000 and $10,000 per 3D modelled object.

Pre-Defined Room Scale AR

Pre-defined room-scale AR apps allow users to walk into a pre-scanned room and interact with the overlays on various objects. Pre-defined augmented reality reads information from a mobile device’s GPS, digital compass and accelerometer. It predicts the direction in which the user is looking. This cost to develop this type of app ranges bwtween between $40,000 and $50,000 per room plus number of objects.

Plane Projection/Gyroscopic AR

This kind of augmented reality permits the user to detect flat surfaces. The app scans the surface to trigger a pivot point or origin to begin projecting the 3D model or object. After the app sets the plane, the user can manipulate the object and interact with it. An app like this costs between $15,000 and $20,000 per 3D object depending on the complexity of desired interaction.

Wearable Based AR

This type of augmented reality needs particular hardware to overlay objects in the retina of the user via a wearable device. The cost to develop this type of augmented reality app runs between $50,000 and $100,000.

Besides the development itself, the cost of developing AR/VR apps will include added features that often include:

  • Log-in
  • Payment integration
  • Support of multiple languages
  • Advanced Analytics
  • Support/Updates
  • Hardware

Other Important Factors That Figure into Cost of Developing AR/VR Apps

Research and Development

Usually, during the development of AR/VR apps, there is an R&D stage. At this stage, the development team creates storyboards, and they present numerous best choices for development. Often, the project team will pause to research the best practices to execute the functions and features of the app. As new immersive technology does not past iterations, researching best practices could take months.

Towards the end of the project, the development will perform quality assurance and testing. These steps allow the team to find bugs and issues that might occur within the app.

Project Management Methodology

When figuring out the cost of developing an AR/VR app, do pay attention to a company’s method of project management. Most high-caliber firms employ an agile way of project management. An agile approach ensures collaboration, adaptability, and simplicity.  As a result, you get a quality product with the most efficient cost to you.

Delivery Devices and Platforms

The method you choose to deliver your AR/VR experience also factors into your development cost. There are high-priced VR platforms that provide robust experiences and use the best high-end GPU cards. The plus with these systems is that they have a low initial cost. There is a low initial cost because they need little optimization. However, as you scale, your costs increase significantly because of the high costs of computing, IT infrastructure, and require management resources.

There are platforms with lower costs while scaling. However, they incur a higher initial cost.

Given all these factors, you should have a good idea of the cost of developing an AR/VR app. Remember that when designing your app, think of your target audience and which platform will provide the most memorable experience.

Do you have a particular idea for an AR/VR app? HiverLab has an AR/VR content management system designed for organizations, schools, and individuals to create interactive apps and conduct multi-user experiences.

HiverLab, Singapore’s award-winning media technology company, focuses on immersive technology since 2014. The firm helps organizations create innovative products and solutions in the domains of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality, Data Visualization and beyond, striving to advance communication experiences, enable digital transformation, and define human interaction.


Share your world with your audience in an immersive 360° ​virtual reality experience.Virtual reality is a powerful medium that engage audiences like never before.

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