With mostly prior confirmed PSVR titles presenting at E3 2018, we expected Sony to dedicate a few moments during its E3 2018 keynote to highlight the platform’s upcoming VR games, of course with the understanding that high-profile PS4 titles would mostly overshadow VR titles. Well, that’s a bit of an understatement.
After all was said and done, the only PSVR title to get time on the big stage was the PSVR-compatible title Trover Saves the Universe, a platformer from Justin Roiland’s Squanch Games that supports both PSVR and PS4. As one of the most tepidly-received games to debut at Sony’s patently declamatory presentation (which was first held in church-like venue to show off The Last of Us Part II, and then in a secondary auditorium to show the company’s other big-budget games), the level of evangelization of the platform and its upcoming VR games was lacking to say the least; it was a decisive emphasis on blockbusters over less crucial titles, and therefore PSVR in general.
Not even Beat Saber, the impressively successful VR indie title that’s done over two million dollars in revenue—practically unheard of for an indie game that hasn’t seen funding support from one of the big VR players—got time on the big stage. At-home viewers were treated to only a few seconds of the game during the intermission while actual attendees of the PlayStation E3 keynote moved from one auditorium to another.
Instead, Sony quietly put out a PSVR highlights reel shortly after the presentation ended, which wasn’t shown during the E3 keynote. Games shown in the video below (in chronological order) include: Trover Saves the Universe, Tetris Effect, Moss, Ghost Giant, Beat Saber, Firewall Zero Hour, DOOM VFR, Creed: Rise to Glory, Evasion, Star Trek: Bridge Crew, The Persistence, Star Child, Skyrim VR, Jupiter & Mars, AstroBot: Rescue Mission, Vacation Simulator, and Superhot VR—many of which were previously known or even launched last year.
Sony has more games coming to PSVR (that much is certain), and there’s also a number of new games being shown at E3 2018 for the platform too. Although unlike Oculus or HTC, Sony’s gaming lifeblood is still inexorably tied to its traditional console titles, and as the PS4 console inevitably starts what PlayStation Chief Tsuyoshi Kodera calls the “final phase of its life cycle,” consolidating that investment where it counts the most—in its big budget console exclusives—makes it clear where the company’s priorities lie.
For comparison, last year’s E3 PlayStation presentation featured six PSVR games presented on stage: Skyrim VR, The Inpatient, Starchild, Monsters of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV, Bravo Team, and Moss, all of which amounted to seven minutes of stage time. It wouldn’t have been hard to sandwich six or seven extra minutes into this year’s presentation, but obviously Sony thought differently for whatever reason. Maybe more and better is coming. Maybe now just wasn’t the time to trumpet its VR platform.
We’ve had the chance to try out many of the newly debuted titles (including Trover Saves the Universe), and it’s clear these games are either commensurate, or above last year’s games in quality, which means really only one thing: Sony has decided to publicly care less about PSVR for now. While good games worth your time are still coming to the platform, the company just didn’t feel like PSVR deserved the limelight this go around—not a guarantee that they’ve given up on PSVR, but noteworthy just the same.
For a VR headset selling at the all-time low of $200 during its ‘Days of Play’ sale, the company really ought to care what new players think though. As the headset becomes more and more affordable, Sony needs to reassure the world even more so that PSVR isn’t a stagnant platform, lest it fall entirely off the radar at the most important gaming expo on the planet. In the end, it’s all a bit of shame, as important and extremely fun titles like Sony Japan Studio’s Astro Bot Rescue Mission finally dial into what makes the platform great, but are completely overshadowed by what the higher-ups most likely consider the safest investments for now.