Hybrid VR Games: Making the PlayStation VR a success

Hybrid VR Games = PSVR Success?

If you want to predict the success of a new console or a new gaming accessory, you only need to take two kinds of people into consideration. Just like best friends, if you spark the interest of one you can be sure that the other will follow, but if any of the two decides that they have no interest in your console, then it is doomed to be unsuccessful.


Sony’s PSVR can certainly be a success, and it is on the right path to attract all kinds of gamers worldwide, but a few obstacles stand in its way. Fortunately, a rather simple solution, Hybrid VR games, can solve all these problems.


What worked and what didn’t

Let’s look at a few examples. The PlayStation Move, while it received strong support from Sony when it launched, ended up collecting the dust on gamers’ shelves just a few months after it came out. Mainly, the price was too high compared to the experience it provided for customers, and the developers did not develop any games that made it worth it.


On the other hand, if we look at the PS4 launch, Sony did almost everything right. They appealed to gamers by offering the lowest price for the new generation of consoles, the best hardware, and gamer-friendly features.

They also attracted developers by making it easy to create new games on their consoles, and by securing exclusive deals.


PlayStation Move Controller
PlayStation Move Controller – ahead of its time?


Attracting the developers and the gamers

Attract the developers to your new platform, or your new accessory, and the great games they will develop will without a doubt bring the gamers. Or, catch the interest of gamers, make them commit to your product, and the developers will follow to get a share of that large player base.


It might seem simple, but it truly is not. The biggest issue is that when anyone commits to your product, they are taking a risk.

People buying the PSVR at launch are taking a risk that the developers will simply forget about the accessory, and developers are taking the risk that not enough people buy a PSVR. To convince both sides to commit to this new experience, Sony has to handle a few obstacles standing in its way.


The issues faced by the PSVR

Sony seems to have secured the interest of developers for launch titles, and the immersive experience it offers is convincing to a substantial number of gamers. However, how long will that last?

To have a good launch is only the first step, and to ensure the continuous success of the PSVR, Sony needs to address three problems that might reduce the interest from developers and gamers:

  • Motion sickness
  • Difficulty in developing games
  • The lack of AAA games available in VR

If you follow the news about Virtual Reality, you probably think that these three are not separate problems, but that they cause one another.


Star Wars Battlefront Title
Star Wars Battlefront – Includes PlayStation VR Content


Motion sickness

First, the motion sickness, which is felt by gamers is technically a simulator sickness, and it happens when visual information received by your brain does not match the movements experienced by your body.

Today’s manufacturers are trying their best to resolve this issue, but it is still an obstacle for many gamers and developers. It led to the failure of VR in the past, and could very well result in the failure of VR today if an appropriate solution is not offered.


Constraints for developers

Every time a developer wants to make a VR game, he needs to think about the possible motion sickness that his game will create and has to make more constrained design choices. Furthermore, developers have spoken out about the difficulty of doing simple things in VR.

The menus, the way a character goes up or down the steps, and so on, might seem simple, but are quite demanding in Virtual reality.

That is partially why big developer studios have yet to commit to a full AAA game.


Lack of AAA games

Not only is developing in VR a longer time and greater money commitment, but the revenue also is not yet profitable for an AAA project.

The consumer base is simply too small, and the time it takes, with the new constraints involved, is simply too long.


To solve these three issues and to bring large studios to commit to VR, a simple solution exists.

Instead of a full commitment from the start, they can simply offer the option to experience some parts of their game in Virtual Reality.


Rise of the Tomb Raider
Rise of the Tomb Raider – Includes PlayStation VR Content


Hybrid VR games: a solution for the PSVR

Implementing VR in blockbusters games

We want you to imagine for a moment how VR can be integrated within standard games. Let’s take a few blockbusters as example.


There you are, punching random strangers, shooting hookers and stealing cars in Grand Theft Auto. As you enter the most recent vehicle you stole, an icon representing the PlayStation VR headset appears in the upper left corner of your screen. You now have the option to switch to your headset and enjoy the ride in Virtual Reality.

Perhaps, this seems a bit too complicated to implement?


Then how about making the mini-games in Red Dead Redemption, such as poker, fully playable with your PSVR?

You would be able to sit at the table with NPCs, or other players online – all in VR. Imagine enjoying the atmosphere of the saloon perfectly recreated while you spend hours and hours playing poker in the Far West.

Doesn’t that seem much more doable?


Tekken 7: Fated Retribution
Tekken 7: Fated Retribution – Includes PlayStation VR Content


Creating Hybrid VR games from the scratch

Implementing VR in already existing games is only one side of the equation. Developers can also be much more creative and build a game where the interaction between the normal way to play and PSVR is included within the story.


Imagine a new matrix game is coming out, where you have to play normally while being out of the matrix, but you would be able to play with a PSVR when Neo has to dive in.

Or, perhaps a Ratchet & Clank game where the gameplay with Ratchet is as usual, but Clank’s gameplay is entirely playable in VR.


The advantage for developers is quite obvious. Since they only need to devote a certain percentage of their game to Virtual Reality, they can create a complete game much more easily.

At the same time, they would offer a clear option to use the PSVR which would feel natural and immersive within the story.


Is this truly what we, fans of VR, want? No, it is not.

What we really want are complete games, fully playable in VR. But, this is a simple solution to the problems the PSVR will face early on, and it will ensure its success. That is how we might finally get entire blockbuster titles in Virtual Reality.


So, how does this idea solve motion sickness, makes it easier to develop games, or helps with the arrival of AAA games on VR?



Resolving motion sickness

First, while some people might always have motion sickness using a VR headset, a significant number of players report that the more you play, the less you have it.

By integrating VR into more and more games, and allowing the gamers to play it in short burst, their resistance to motion sickness will grow without forcing the player to stop playing entirely.

Hence, it will become easier and easier to play.


Making it easier for developers

Second, by starting with smaller projects, such as a mini-game or only a part of the game in VR, developers can slowly learn to develop while still making a profit.

They do not have to commit to the new technology fully, but they can still get accustomed to it. The more you develop for a platform, the easier it gets. Once all the common problems will have a general solution, developers can expect to save a lot of time on coding.


Making the PSVR more attractive for AAA studios

Third, big AAA studios could simply, at first, dedicate a small team of developers to integrate Virtual Reality into their games.

By doing so, not only will they make more sales, as the VR fans will certainly buy their games, they will also be able to slowly train Virtual Reality specialists who will be able to lead the industry.

Hence, by adding a Virtual Reality element to their game, large studios will be able to boost their sales with a minimal impact on time and cost. Certainly, developing mini-games in Virtual Reality will not be free, but the new customers they might attract should heavily repay the cost.


PlayStation VR Face
Will the PlayStation VR survive?


Final Word

Overall, Hybrid VR games would truly help the PSVR to achieve mainstream status.

While some games such as Deus Ex, Final Fantasy or Tomb Raider offer bonus content in VR, it is more of a side-dish than a part of the main course. By making the use of the PSVR optional within the game, not only will gamers who want the full experience be interested in buying a headset, developers will get accustomed to Virtual Reality.

The more customers, the bigger the market, and the bigger the market, the closer we are to full-length AAA games available for Virtual Reality.


While Hybrid VR games are not a long-term solution, they can be the necessary bridge between a good launch and a continuous success for the PSVR.

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