With more than a month in the world, Sony’s PS VR2 is set in gross sales. With an initial plan for two million units at launch, PlayStation’s next crack at the virtual market is on pace to sell only 13 percent of that original projection by the end of March, with a shortfall of 270,000 units. While the launch is undoubtedly a letdown for Sony and VR enthusiasts, the problem isn’t faulty hardware as the PS VR2 was met with universal acclaim.
With the PS VR2’s critical success, sales disasters seem to be more of a sign of waning enthusiasm for VR gaming as the modern age of technology approaches its tenth anniversary. What was once the bleeding edge of the video game industry now sees developers less likely to venture into the realms of VR. With a high barrier to entry, an apparent lack of profit making, and the overall difficulty of development for VR technology, the PS VR2 could potentially be the death knell for those who predicted VR would be the future of gaming.
VR has a Daunting Barrier to Entry
Whether it’s the price point or the sheer number of market caps, VR activity can be the most important thing to pursue. As of 2016, there are 36 major market-related heads, all of varying quality levels. To make matters worse, each developer comes with its own limitations and problems. This directly affects PlayStation VR, as the hardware is only designed to be used with the PlayStation 5 console. With some tinkering, the devices can be used on a PC, but it’s asking a lot from the daily grind to dip their toes into the world of VR. To put it simply, consumers can’t plug-and-play because they can first find out what developers can use when they have the equipment, or who doesn’t need additional devices.
Developers are finding that the first problem when it comes to VR is the exorbitant price tag on the devices. The PS VR2 is $549.99 at launch, but that doesn’t include the $500 price tag of the PlayStation V. While the PS VR2 may be a great product, looking for an on-the-fence consumer to spend over $1,000 at a local game store to try out new technology is too much. That’s not even due to the difficulty of getting a PS5 in the first place, as three years after launch they still remain elusive. VR is a passive hobby too inconvenient to be sustainable for the casual consumer, but the consumer is not alone in the hurdles when it comes to embracing VR.
Dear VR Development
From a developer perspective, creating VR games full time is too descriptive to be financially viable. Steam according to metrics; Middle Life: Alyx The most downloaded VR game on the service, surpassing two million units sold in 2020. While that is undoubtedly an impressive number, especially for a VR game, be careful that it could not even break the top 10 in sales for 2020. Fans. Valve even went so far as to say that the title never intended to turn a profit, since it was designed to attract buyers to Valve’s VR headset.
Even after Valve released the Index to the world, sales metrics for VR games didn’t see any significant long-term boost on Steam. Most of the games that populate the all-time VR top seller have launched a page in the Indian window, meaning the market has stagnated since the initial hype of the Indian. That means that any company looking to develop a VR game will have to do it out of love for the technology because it doesn’t seem like money is in the studio.
Some games have been developed specifically for VR
VR also finds itself in the unenviable position of requiring specialized development titles to exclude technology. While the majority of first-person titles will include VR functionality in games, that feature is usually an add-on and not a main selling point. A VR-specific game finds itself in the same category as the Nintendo Wii, where the revolutionary approach to how games are played makes it difficult for first-time developers to create or re-tool games specifically for the medium.
Even the most basic VR functionality requires time and resources that could be considered useful in another area of development. This is why many VR titles were initially additions to existing games or reworks of established titles meant to jump on the VR trend. At the end of the day, developers and publishers are businesses, and creating VR content doesn’t serve the purpose of making money.
More than anything, VR should stop being relegated as a gaming-only peripheral and start being treated as the new technology it actually is. Since the 80s, VR has been a symbol of future technology in books, movies, and TV, depicting users as truly inhabiting these different VR worlds, but it doesn’t align with the reality of today’s world. VR is so much more than magic trickery, and game controllers have long been an extension of the player’s every virtual experience.
That being said, VR has done wonders in medicine and education, giving curious minds access to hands-on education. Artists and others have used VR to offer a new perspective on old works, breathing new life into pieces of social media. Those suffering from stress or anxiety can also step outside the real world and gain an immersive meditation experience to help and strengthen them and focus on their mental well-being. It’s time but the Playstation VR2 proves that VR is not the future of gaming because it limits the technology to only gaming through the use of a specific console and loses the power and potential that VR developers really have.