Regular listeners and viewers of our BRB UK and VRB podcasts will know that I am a BIG fan of VR – in particular, I love PlayStation VR. While this started with the last generation of headsets, I was keen on PS VR2 and jumped on board at launch. Also worth pointing out up front that the biggest problem I’ve had with my headset is finding the time to play all the games I want to play. I want to make clear that the following criticisms come from a place of love and a desire to see PS VR2 realise its full potential… something that it is currently falling short of doing.
Even prior to launch, PlayStation was heavily criticised for not seeming to care – especially when it came to not producing a dedicated State of Play style presentation for the headset and upcoming software. Preferring to announce new information via PS Blog Posts and underwhelming unboxing videos.
Aside from a Horizon: Call of the Mountain advert with Ozzie Osbourne and a Gran Turismo 7 Advert with Bella Ramsey, PlayStation really has done little to attract the attention of the mainstream but it has faced even more (arguably deserved) criticism for not catering to their existing hardcore VR audiences – especially with a lack of first-party titles.
A number of “big” titles that were on PS VR have yet to make it to PS VR2 – and we have no idea if they are even on their way. Astro Bot is oddly absent. Blood & Truth is truly missing in action. Wipeout isn’t out. Everybody’s Golf VR is apparently not for everybody with PS VR2. I really thought that by this time of the year, in the run-up to Christmas and with the recent launch of Meta Quest 3, we would at least know if these games are in the pipeline.
This problem is exacerbated by some notable third parties seemingly having pulled back from third-party support of PlayStation VR. EA has announced PC VR support for games like F1 2023 and WRC 2023 – with no support for PS VR2 and no word on any updates for games like Star Wars Squadrons. Borderlands 2 was on PS VR, but no word on any 2K games for PSVR 2. Ubisoft has a number of PS VR games, but it has yet to comment on whether the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR is ever coming to PS VR2.
The lack of third-party support has further been exaggerated by acquisitions by PlayStation’s competitors. Xbox buying Bethesda has meant that the likes of Skyrim VR and Doom VFR won’t be reappearing on PS VR2. Likewise, Meta buying Iron Man VR‘s developer, Camouflaj, means that we are unlikely to get a PS VR2 version of that – despite Iron Man VR being a game that Playstation used to help market their first headset. There are also unconfirmed reports that Meta is either paying or persuading other developers to remain silent on PS VR2 support – with developers such as Schell Games being puzzlingly quiet on PS VR2 versions of their highly rated I Expect You to Die trilogy.
The PS VR2 is not lacking in software, with over 150 games launched or announced on the PS VR2 store since its launch in February. However, the lack of first and third-party support from existing IPs has two main negative effects on PS VR2 – Firstly, it limits how much attention it attracts from mainstream gamers who could have their head turned by their favourite game coming to a certain VR platform (for example AC Nexus VR is currently being used to help advertise the Quest 3) but it also feeds the narrative that Playstation does not care about PS VR2.
Aside from the lack of games, the quality of some high profile recent releases also makes it look as though Playstation does not care about the VR headset or its owners. The recent releases of Hell Sweeper VR and Project Wingman in a disappointing blurry states has put me off pre-ordering VR games. Even long-term VR partners like Supermassive Games, had problems with the launch of Switchback (which have mainly been solved with patches that improved the visual fidelity and other issues) but perhaps the hardest to understand is the unforgivable poor state of the launch of, the now first party, Firewall Ultra. PlayStation may have less control over some of these games and doesn’t tend to prevent a launch of a game based on quality, but may need to reassess how it qualifies VR games or at the very least be more proactive with giving support to developers to properly implement features such as foveated rendering.
The Meta Quest 3 actually had fewer launch titles than PS VR2, but the lack of backwards compatibility for PS VR titles has created a perception problem. Given the multi-generational leap that the PS VR2 Sense controllers were over the Move controllers, I think this makes sense and was the right move, but even though a smaller selection of games have had Quest 3 updates, all of the library of Quest 2 games are at least playable on the new headset – and the library is further bolstered by PC VR titles being available via Quest Link. Some PS VR2 games have had a free update, some have charged a small fee, some require entirely new purchases, but many are entirely unplayable and likely to remain that way. Playstation should have done a better job of having a unified approach to this.
Sony also need to do more with regards to getting their headset shown to the public – at recent EGX and WASD events in the UK, it was left to individual developers, such as Wolf & Wood to demo their game, C-Smash VRS. PlayStation should be doing more to help developers to sell their games rather than developers helping PlayStation to sell their headset.
I think that Sony does care about PS VR2 but at the moment they are not doing a good job of arming people like me with enough strong evidence to prove that is the case. PlayStation needs to improve its communication – especially regarding its plans for updating first-party PS VR titles. In better news, October is a very busy month for high profile PS VR2 game releases with more good looking games slated for November and December. A spate of recent delays for games such as Phasmophobia and, in particular the highly anticipated, Vertigo 2, may hint that PlayStation are stepping up their game and do indeed care about PS VR2 – but we may not see proof either way until we see how they approach 2024.
Tags: AC Nexus VR, Assassin's Creed Nexus VR, Astro Bot, Blood & Truth, Borderlands 2, C-Smash VRS, DOOM VFR, EGX, Everybody's Golf VR, F1 2023, Firewall Ultra, Gran Turismo 7, Hell Sweeper VR, Horizon Call of the Mountain, I Expect You to Die, Iron Man VR, Meta Quest, PlayStation, PlayStation 5, PlayStation VR 2, Project Wingman, PS5, PSVR 2, Skyrim VR, Sony, Star Wars: Squadrons, Switchback, WASD, WipEout, WRC 2023