Speaking as a PlayStation loyalist and even a former host of a PlayStation themed podcast, it pains me to write this article but Sony need to hold their hands up as PS VR seems to be just another failed experiment that can be thrown in the fire alongside the Vita, 3D gaming and the Move controller. Remember all those gimmicks kids? Probably not and there’s a familiar reason why that seems to stretch over all these failed projects.
This article was inspired by Stuart’s recent Iron Man VR review which you can catch here or in the video further down this page. It’s worth pointing out that I have never actually owned a PS VR headset myself but I have had a fair bit of time with one. I did however own a Vita, a 3D TV for 3D gaming and a Move controller. Having backed all these and regretted it, I didn’t want to repeat my mistake with PS VR and now some 3 years plus after its release, it turns out I may have made the right decision and dodged a bullet. With 5 million units sold to a base that is well over 100 million strong, I don’t think that can be viewed as a success.
So what is the same mistake that Sony keep making with all this additional hardware? Firstly there’s a roadblock which is completely outside of their control and that’s that video games are perfect as they are.. if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For years and years we’ve been happy enough with the game on our TV and a controller in our hands. Having said that, Nintendo have had massive success with both handheld consoles for decades and gimmicks like the Nintendo Wii which the PS Move tried and failed to replicate. Hell, they even managed to nail 3D gaming with the 3DS! What’s the odds of the next Nintendo console being a game changer for Virtual Reality gaming I wonder?
Outside of players just wanting to sit in front of a TV, what else have let the Japanese giants down? Well quite frankly, it comes down to failing to back their own products. There are very few examples of true masterpieces that have appeared on the devices mentioned. There’s a particular pattern that always seem to repeat itself.. The VR/Vita/Move launches with a big exclusive, we’re promised that similar games will follow, they don’t, units don’t sell and developers don’t see a way of being financially successful if they make a game for a base so small. So we get stuck in a loop of consumers not wanting to buy the device because the library isn’t strong enough and developers don’t want to fill the library because nobody is buying the hardware.
The most frustrating twist in this tale is that for the most part, these devices/gimmicks have been really good! Not 3D gaming though, that was terrible and should be hidden away in a vault and the keys thrown away. I still get a weird persistent throbbing headache whenever I think back to trying Assassins Creed 2 in 3D.. But aside from that, the likes of VR and Vita have actually been pretty great.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss was genuinely a great entry into the Uncharted series which is completely forgotten about as it was exclusive to the doomed Vita. Being able to take Uncharted with me on my travels was genuinely mind blowing. It felt to me though that every Vita release from then was a step down, we genuinely peaked with the launch title. A similar tale can be told for the VR. PS VR came crashing into our lives with Resident Evil 7 and all of a sudden it genuinely felt like VR could be the future. Fast forward to present day and the only other great VR game we’ve seen in three years is Beat Saber. Even this past week we had a new VR release in Iron Man VR which has been reviewed average at best. Think about that for a second, Iron Man VR.. this should have been huge! Check out Stuart’s review for Iron Man VR in the video below for more on this.
The likes of Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Resident Evil 7 shown us exactly what these devices could do, unfortunately Sony just didn’t back them. I understand that being profitable comes first but there has to be a point where Sony turn to one of their studios and ask them to work exclusively on a massive title for this hardware, even if that means paying that studio the difference in what they would have lost by not developing for the wildly popular PS3/4 instead.
Again, look at Nintendo. The Wii, 3DS and Switch aren’t additional hardware, it’s their bread and butter. Therefor those consoles receive exclusives from the likes of Zelda, Pokemon, Mario and so much more which you can’t play anywhere else. That is the only way you can make these sort of devices a true success. Will we eventually see the PS VR given the games it deserves before dying a slow death and being buried next to the Vita? In truth I just don’t see it happening. We’ll keep getting games on the level of an Iron Man VR until sales drop to the point that new games completely dry up. Then Nintendo will make a VR console that blows our minds and makes us look back at PS VR as shake our heads, watch this space.