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Sony’s PlayStation VR had a very strong launch back in October, so why is Sony remaining silent on the future of their virtual reality platform. The word from several gaming news outlets is that the PlayStation VR could be destined for the dust bin of dead gaming gimmicks, right next to Xbox’s Kinect and the PS2’s short-lived EyeToy.
Speculation at Sony’s VR demise started with news that one of Sony’s UK studios, Guerilla Cambridge, was closing down after nineteen years. While Sony called the shut down “regrettable,” they mentioned it was part of their plan to “make changes to European studios structure.” Guerilla Cambridge was responsible for creating many games for Sony, including Ghosthunter, Killzone: Mercenary, and the MediEvil franchise, as well as the PSVR launch title RIGS: Mechanized Combat League.
Sony confirmed that the planned future DLC for RIGS was canceled as well, which is just terrible for any gamers who paid for that in advance. The online multiplayer servers will remain open, at least.
One studio shutting down, though unfortunate, isn’t entirely unheard of. But, back in September, another Sony studio, Sony London, faced some major job losses shortly after the release of its VR game, The London Heist. Several senior staff members were laid off as part of the studio’s “team downsizing.” Sony was quick to remind people, though, that the downsizing was typical of what happens to studios at the end of a production cycle, and that this was not a sign of them backing away from virtual reality gaming.
Another, much more suspicious note, is the lack of mention of the PSVR during Sony’s end-of-the-year press release. During the press release, Sony was very adamant in showing off their numbers in terms of hardware units and software copies sold. When Sony boss Kaz Hirai was interviewed by the Daily Star Online after the press release, here’s what he had to say on the subject of the missing VR numbers:
We’ve always said it’s going to be a slow start, unfortunately, we did produce a lot of units but we ran out of stock in some retailers, but I think based on reports coming out of the holiday season, we’re actually happy with the numbers… One of the reasons we’re not talking about the numbers so much is because we don’t want the numbers to take a life of their own.
This attitude, of course, is in direct contradiction with all the other numbers they bragged about during their press release, making it much more likely that PSVR’s sales figures just aren’t up to Sony’s standards.
With Sony remaining silent on future plans for the PSVR, it doesn’t seem that this year will be the one when VR gaming breaks into the mainstream AAA titles (at least for Sony, anyway). It seems for now players will have to settle for regular, old, non-virtual reality and standard 4K PlayStation games.