The Playstation VR 2 is in the starting blocks. How will Sony’s VR headset do? The industry is divided.
February 22, 2023 is D-Day: after almost six and a half years, the successor to Playstation VR will be released.
UK gaming magazine Edge made Sony’s new VR headset its cover story and conducted interviews with developers who are preparing games for the device for market launch.
The article, which also features a market analyst and XR veteran, paints a good picture of the current emotional state: from anticipation and excitement to cautious optimism and doubts that Playstation VR 2 will have the desired effect on the virtual reality industry.
Keep risk low
Virtual reality in general, and Playstation VR 2 in particular, gives developers new tools with which to shape worlds and tell stories. Jörg Tittel, the co-founder of studio Oiffy, which has two games in development for the PSVR 2, is excited about the technology’s potential, but admits more investment is needed in software rather than “metaverse”.
A recurring theme in the article is the virtual reality market manageability, which requires studios to release games for as many platforms as possible. This is one of the reasons why exclusive titles are underrepresented in the list of PSVR 2 games announced so far, and the vast majority of titles are ports of existing VR games.
One exception is Switchback VR, the spiritual successor to the rollercoaster shooter Until Dawn: Rush of Blood for the first Playstation VR, which was also an exclusive and launch title.
The studio responsible, Supermassive Games, was acquired by Danish film company Nordisk Film last summer and can afford to take a risk and only develop for one platform. “[VR] is a smaller market, so we’re lowering our expectations in that sense,” Supermassive Games’ Will Doyle says of the sales numbers.
The VR landscape is very different from 2016
What the studios aren’t discussing is that Sony will likely partially or fully fund most PSVR 2 exclusive titles. Meta Quest 2 is currently the most successful VR headset, and Sony will have to work hard to even come close to catching up with its competitor.
If Playstation VR 2 fails to attract a critical mass of gamers, VR studios could spend the next few years expand for the lowest common denominatorMeta Quest, with potentially fatal consequences for Sony’s VR system.
Since Playstation VR 2 is not backwards compatible, Sony is starting almost from scratch in terms of the VR ecosystem. The good news is that many studios are trying to port their old PSVR1 titles to the new VR system and offer them as a free upgrade. Whether it will convince buyers of the old VR headset and those who are only now flirting with virtual reality to buy Playstation VR 2 is another question.
It’s all about games
What Playstation VR 2 needs, and everyone agrees on this, is top-notch software. Horizon Call of the Mountain is currently the only first part title announced.
That’s too little, says market researcher George Jijiashvili. His “optimistic forecast” is that Sony will sell 1.6 million systems this year and ten million devices by 2027. That’s only on the condition that Sony can deliver games that drive sales in the first year. .
“I mean, if they don’t, then they’re kinda screwed. These existing announcements, this dozen games, will not feature a $550 peripheral for a console,” says Jijiashvili. “It’s really all up to Sony. They need to show their own commitment to this device. And I think once they do that, others will follow.
Author, game designer, and XR veteran Tadhg Kelly is pessimistic about the situation. The reason: no major studio or publisher would support Playstation VR 2. Many studios that developed games for PSVR1 told him that it wasn’t worth it. Replay rates and sales weren’t great – despite millions of headsets sold.
Sony still has time to convince with the software: the company could announce more titles during the CES press conference. The next Christmas affair will probably be decisive for the future fate of the console. Hopefully Sony will have a hit or two ready for that.