Playstation VR 2 is in the starting blocks. How will Sony’s VR headset fare? The industry is divided.
February 22, 2023 is the day: After almost six and a half years, the successor to Playstation VR will be released.
British video game magazine Edge featured Sony’s new VR headset as a headline and interviewed developers making games for the device in the run-up to launch.
The article, which also features a market analyst and XR veteran, gives 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 VR industry.
Keeping 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, co-founder of Oiffy, which has two PSVR 2 games in development, is excited about the technology’s potential, but admits that more investment needs to be made in the software than in the “metaverse.”
A recurring theme in the article is controllability of the VR market, forcing 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, with the vast majority of titles being ports of existing VR games.
The only exception is Switchback VR, the spiritual successor to the first Playstation VR roller coaster shooter Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, which was also an exclusive and launch title.
The studio responsible, Supermassive Games, was bought by the Danish film company Nordisk Film last summer and can afford to take risks and develop for only one platform. “[VR] is a smaller market, so in that sense we’re lowering our expectations,” says Supermassive Games’ Will Doyle regarding the sales numbers.
The VR landscape is very different from 2016
What the studios aren’t discussing is that Sony will probably partially or fully fund most PSVR 2 exclusive titles. The Meta Quest 2 is currently the most successful VR headset and Sony will have to work hard to even come close to competing.
If Playstation VR 2 fails to attract a critical mass of players, VR studios could spend the next few years development for the lowest common denominatorMeta Quest, with potentially fatal consequences for Sony’s VR system.
Since the Playstation VR 2 isn’t backwards compatible, Sony is almost starting from scratch when it comes to 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 that will convince buyers of older VR headsets and those who are just now flirting with buying a Playstation VR 2 is another question.
It’s all about the games
What everyone agrees the Playstation VR 2 needs is top-notch software. Horizon Call of the Mountain is currently first party title announced only.
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 if Sony can deliver games that boost sales in the first year.
“I mean, if they don’t, then they’re kind of screwed. These existing announcements, these dozen or so games, will not include a $550 console peripheral,” says Jijiashvili. “It’s really all up to Sony. They must demonstrate their own first party 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 studios or publishers would support Playstation VR 2. He heard from many studios that developed games for PSVR1 that it wasn’t worth it. Play rates and sales weren’t great – despite millions of headsets sold.
Sony still has some time to convince with software: The company could announce more titles at the CES press conference. The next fate of the console will probably be decided by the approaching Christmas business. Let’s hope Sony has a hit or two ready for it.
Note: Links to online stores in articles can be so-called affiliate links. If you make a purchase through this link, MIXED will receive a commission from the provider. The price doesn’t change for you.