Sony’s London Studio is behind PlayStation VR Worlds (2016), a collection of VR vignettes for PSVR—including the lauded ‘London Heist’—which was included in some of the headset’s launch bundles. With the success of VR Worlds, Sony’s London Studio is doubling down; now in development of Blood & Truth, the spiritual successor to ‘London Heist’, the studio says VR is its top priority.
Since its formation in 2001, London Studio is responsible for a long string of PlayStation titles, including the SingStar franchise, several titles for 2003’s PlayStation EyeToy camera, the ahead-of-its-time PlayStation Home (2008), the augmented reality Wonderbook peripheral, and plenty more.
The studio’s experience in natural input game design culminated in VR Worlds, which the title’s Senior Producer, James Oates, told me is the best selling PSVR title to date (likely including bundled sales). VR Worlds contains a series of five disparate but very well produced VR mini-games. It’s effectively a collection of VR experiences which paint a detailed picture of what kinds of games are possible with VR, and still stands as one of the top rated PSVR titles on the PlayStation store.
Among the five experiences on VR Worlds—’London Heist’, ‘Ocean Descent’, ‘Scavengers Odyssey’, ‘VR Luge,’ and ‘Dangerball’—its ‘London Heist’ which has turned out to be the single most played experience of the bunch, with around twice as many plays as all of the others combined, Oates told me.
It’s no wonder then that London Studio’s next project is Blood & Truth, a new PSVR game bearing many of the hallmarks of ‘London Heist’, but which Oates says will be a “full game” with a much larger scope. “AAA game, AAA production, high quality mocap, proper script, full length,” Oates, who is also Senior Producer on Blood & Truth, rattled off to convey the scope of what the studio is aiming for.
Indeed, in my hands-on time with the game just last week, I came away feeling that the studio is off on the right foot:
Through smart design in both locomotion and agency, Sony’s London Studio is clearly onto something with big potential. From shooting to exploring, I felt engaged with the world of Blood & Truth, which deeply solidified it in my head as a physical place around me. I began to forget about the Move controllers in my hands and instead thought about lock picking, C4 placement, and how many bullets were left in my magazine. Throughout it all, the Move’s limited tracking performance didn’t once rear its head (an issue I’ve had with other PSVR titles). The real world begins to fade away; immersion takes over. This is what VR is for.
Although Blood & Truth—as an action game set in London—most resembles ‘London Heist’ from VR Worlds, Oates told me that the studio is taking lessons learned about VR game design from across the entire spectrum of the VR Worlds experiences, and is bringing it all to Blood & Truth. The studio’s in-house engine—which is clearly capable of delivering some of the best looking PSVR content to date—is also getting tweaked, tuned, and upgraded for Blood & Truth, and other future VR content from the studio.
To deliver on that scope and ambition, Oates says London Studio is ramping up in size, and although there’s some other projects in the works, “the bulk of the studio is purely about VR,” he said.
Indeed, the studio’s official page now broadcasts that commitment to the world:
The [London Studio] team’s mission is to lead the way in virtual reality gaming and to continue to grow the PlayStation audience across the platform.
So too do the studio’s latest job listings, currently seeking a broad spectrum of game developers from art, to programming, to Q&A and more.
Though Oates wasn’t ready to talk about what comes next, with VR Worlds under its belt and Blood & Truth on the horizon, he was bullish about the studio’s commitment to VR, calling it London Studio’s “primary focus.”