About a year ago, many gamers were raving about Virtual Reality as if it were the next greatest thing to happen to gaming since the invention of Dorito’s. Sadly, some time has passed to really let VR sink in, and it’s time to do a bit of a post-mortem of the little peripheral that tried. While developers continue to try and support the systems, perhaps we should dive into the core problem Virtual Reality is facing: a lack of interest from any big developer willing to retune their products for what is now a very glorified gimmick.
The example I like to use quite often on how to sell Virtual Reality is Capcom’s Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. With such a drastic change in the direction of the series into first-person, the VR, more specifically the PlayStation VR, would be the ideal push it needed. In turn, Resident Evil 7 helped the PSVR push sales by showcasing the full experience in the best possible virtual space, and PSVR helping Resident Evil 7 really sell its new perspective in a more unconventional light that would surely turn heads and generate hype. This was the one case where both parties were working hand in hand to make each a success, and while Capcom were smart enough to realize the potential of the peripheral, many other developers got cold foot and left the room faster than you can say “HTC Vive”.
The biggest problem is most major developers aren’t entirely focusing on the VR to sell their games. Instead, they just view it as another port of their product that they would have to go back to the drawing board in order to optimize for the VR systems. Bethesda in their recent E3 conference seemed pretty enthusiastic about how VR can benefit their games as they showed off Doom VFR, Fallout 4 VR and even The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in PSVR, but the problem here is that these games were already released and not alongside or within the radius of the VR system like Resident Evil 7. They also don’t necessarily need VR to really sell their games as most people have shown through the amount of sales, the games are doing just perfectly fine in their stock standard forms.
One also has to ask the question of what purpose VR gaming was initially meant to serve. Yes, there may be some impressive titles out to play such as Resident Evil 7 on VR right now and the few very fun little tech demos, but other than that, most of it seems to be rather rudimentary. This was only made worse when Sony took to E3 this year and pushed the idea of a Final Fantasy XV fishing game in VR. I mean, I’m sure they had the best intentions, but this just isn’t the way to go about convincing people to drop a large sum of money only for them to fish and play shiny tech demos.
If the gaming industry and developers don’t shift gears towards making games that benefit from VR and vice versa, then I’m afraid it’s time to really say goodbye to VR in its untimely grave. We can only hope Bethesda can do good by way of their ports, but even then, there’s only so many times we can slay dragons before we Fus-ro-dah our own TV’s.