Right now PSVR is defined by style over substance, but can Sony right the ship and make the platform a success?
Like it or not, size does matter.
Contrary to the popular slogan that argues otherwise, we humans like a sizable portion. Whether it’s a nice thick steak from the best restaurant in town or a frosty mug of brew from our favorite pub, most of us prefer to get the absolute most for our buck. And when it comes to the recently released PlayStation VR, one thing has become painfully clear: the hardware is in dire need of some more substantial software to hold the interest of early adopters who are feeling dissatisfied with the bite-sized poritons that we’ve seen since the PSVR released last month.
Look, I’m not trying to be all doom and gloom. But as one of those souls who rushed to his my eager noggin ensconced in Sony’s new headset, I have to admit that the pittance of gameplay that’s made up the entire launch lineup for the PSVR has me more than a little concerned about what I may have gotten myself into.
Earlier this week developer Crytek announced a few tidbits of information regarding their hugely anticipated PSVR title, Robinson: The Journey. Among these details was the game’s average playtime, which the developer expected to take players anywhere between three to five hours to complete. Retailer Best Buy broke street date for the title, shipping out copies of the game earlier this week, and with that came rapid reports of players completing the game at the very low end of Crytek’s estimate. Many of those, like this NeoGaf user, claim to have taken their time with the game and still managed to wrap up the title in just over 3 hours.
Considering Robinson: The Journey was expected by many to be the first title to transcend tech demo territory to offer a “full game” sensation on the PSVR, the news of the game’s quick burn comes as a bit of a kick in the gut for many who had been hoping the game would validate their purchase of the headset. Especially when you consider the game’s sticker price of $60, though Amazon is still offering the title for $20 less than the MSRP for those hoping to pay a more appropriate price.
Those looking for a light at the end of the “glorified tech demo” tunnel sadly won’t find much relief soon. Just looking at the upcoming release calendar, following Robinson: The Journey’s release on next Tuesday, it looks like the next substantial offering won’t find its way to the PlayStation VR until Resident Evil VII: Biohazard launches on January 24, 2014. And to top it off, the latest entry in Capcom’s long running horror series doesn’t even require the headset, so there’s a fair chance PlayStation 4 owners looking to get a noteworthy VR experience may have to wait a few months into next year to do so – most likely whenever developer Impulse Gear’s sci-fi shooter Farpoint releases in 2017.
I’m not trying to be a doomsday preacher. I absolutely want the PlayStation VR to be a smashing success, as when things come together it provides a marvelously immersive form of escapism for the player. Games like Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, Batman: Arkham VR, and Here They Lie go a long way towards demonstrating the benefits that the tech can bring to the table despite their paltry length. But when you consider the fact that the basic PSVR bundle retails for a hundred dollars more than the console itself, these incredibly brief games – some clocking in at just over an hour – aren’t going to keep the average player entertained for long.
Simply put, Sony needs to work on bringing a wealth of titles to the PSVR that players can’t plow through in the time it takes to have a nice dinner. Given the hardware’s asking price, consumers have every right to expect titles that provide more meaningful gameplay than a glorified tech demo. Sure, strapping on the Batsuit and solving a quick murder mystery in Arkham VR is fun, and the two gunfights that comprise the entirety of The Getaway: London Heist are a great example of just how lifelike VR can feel when developers are given the proper budget to hone their craft. But these fleeting experiences aren’t going to be enough to keep players engaged forever. And if developers can’t offer a more compelling use of the hardware in the coming months, the PSVR could be billed a failure well before its time, especially when you look at Sony’s history of abandoning struggling platforms in the past such as the PSP and Vita.
I still love my PlayStation VR, but I’d be lying if I said the brevity of its current lineup doesn’t concern me. Frankly, I feel it should concern anyone who has considered purchasing Sony’s headset. Hopefully I’m wrong, and with some luck and a flood of support the PSVR will go on to become the industry’s premier virtual reality platform. As it stands, it’s facing an uphill battle until the software can justify the hardware’s significant asking price.
What do you think, reader? Do you feel like the PSVR – or VR in general – can survive on bite-sized software alone so long as the immersion is there? Do you feel that the PSVR’s launch lineup has been worth the price of admission? As always, we’d love to hear your take on the situation. Be sure to sound off in the comments section and let us know what’s on your mind.