Sony’s June 2022 State of Play featured something for everyone in the PlayStation ecosystem. The presentation heralded the long-awaited Resident Evil 4 remake and showed trailers for everything from street fighter 6 to cat simulator Lost. It also featured the once unthinkable announcement that Insomniac’s Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered is being ported to PC.
In addition to announcements affecting gamers on established platforms, Sony devoted a significant portion of the presentation to its next piece of hardware. Although Sony has yet to provide a release date, the PlayStation VR 2 headset was well represented during State of Play. While the PSVR2 games may sound appealing to gamers who bought VR games, they did little to win over others.
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Sony introduced four PSVR2 games, including VR versions of popular games like Resident Evil Village Y no man’s skya new chapter of The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners and a virtual reality spin-off of the Horizon Serie. That’s a solid lineup of games and franchises, and it even includes a recent entry that’s still fresh in the minds of PlayStation fans after a new update. On paper, it sounds like these announcements would generate excitement among fans of the various properties.
Instead, for many gamers, PSVR2 games were an unwelcome addition to the State of Play. They were overwhelmingly met with negative comments during the live broadcast. Fans protesting that PS5s are still hard to come by while Sony tries to hype new hardware is one thing. A commenter who says “nobody cares about virtual reality” is another.
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VR gaming hasn’t quite caught up with the mainstream gaming audience. Games like the next remake Resident Evil 4 Y Half Life: Alyx they have been well received by critics and fans who have embraced VR gaming. However, there has been no “killer app” that has led to the wider adoption of VR gaming. That load might be too much to ask for any game.
It’s one thing for Sony fans dedicated enough to watch a live State of Play to be irritated that PSVR2 games are featured. The “hardcore gamer” demographic often does not represent broader tastes in gaming. However, VR gaming remains a niche, even outside of the gaming community that shuns it at places like State of Play presentations. This isn’t a case of game enthusiasts rejecting something that made its way into the mainstream, like the Nintendo Wii did.
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Virtual reality has long been considered the future of gaming. Ironically, it seems that the real future of gaming is moving further and further away from the need for dedicated hardware such as a VR headset. With the new incarnation of PlayStation Plus, Sony is finally embracing the subscription service model that made Xbox Game Pass so popular. Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to experiment with cloud-streamed games. Rumors suggest Microsoft is working on a dedicated Game Pass cloud streaming stick. On the other hand, the death of the console has been anticipated for a long time. However, the demand for PS5 shows that the post-hardware world has not yet arrived.
PSVR2’s poor reception during State of Play won’t deter Sony from promoting it. Just because something is niche doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a place in Sony’s lineup. While some fans won’t appreciate it, Sony will be hyping PSVR2 games as they build towards the headset’s release. They will most likely continue to use derivatives of Sony’s own games like Horizon to entice PlayStation fans to try virtual reality. While some fans might not like it, PSVR having a seat at Sony’s table during hype sessions makes a lot of sense.