VR Vs. the AAA Holiday Stampede

Despite the wealth of opportunities offered by virtual reality (VR), the new medium is undeniably lead by videogames. Grabbing the most attention from consumers and the headlines for big new releases, the videogames industry’s slow but progressive move into VR is essentially acting as the pilot scheme for the mass adoption of VR. However, it seems that many of the ingrained issues with the videogames industry are also making their way to VR.

DOOM VFR screenshot

PlayStation VR, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are taking the pride of place as top-tier devices, while mobile head-mounted displays (HMDs) such as Google Daydream and Samsung Gear VR offer more intermediate experiences; but regardless of your choice of format you’ll find the respective digital storefront is predominantly videogame orientated. With that in mind, it’s easy to see how established trends and knowledge are hard to break free from.

While Oculus VR itself has made a concerted effort to ensure a spread of big titles across the year, other publishers are less keen to bring their AAA titles to a budding medium in the typically slow summer period. Bethesda Game Studios is obviously a prime example of this, offering The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, DOOM VFR and Fallout 4 VR all within a four week period.

Back in 2016, it was Ubisoft that lead the holiday period release schedule, with Eagle Flight, Star Trek: Bridge Crew and Werewolves Within all originally scheduled for release around the holiday period. Some delays meant eventual launches were postponed until the New Year, but essentially Ubisoft was keen to capitalise on the new hardware purchases made as gifts. Now in 2017, the publisher appears less concerned about doing so and, while still having an enviable line-up of VR titles in development, is apparently in less of a rush to get to market.

Rockstar Games has also fallen into the same hole, with L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files now launching in December. With a recent delay having pushed this title back however, it could be said that Rockstar Games had aimed for the holiday period but were less concerned about a strategy as to exactly when.

The videogames industry took a step back from the mess that had become the holiday release schedule in 2014, with many titles pushed to January or February of the following year to avoid the clash against other AAA releases. However, with VR still being very nascent it’s not yet at the tipping point where that schedule becomes to full to accommodate titles smaller than Call of Duty or Battlefield within the highly prized six week period November through mid-December.

Polyarc recently announced a delay for the studio’s highly anticipated debut title, Moss, a VR exclusive release. This may well be due to the intimidation of the likes of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR swallowing player’s free time – especially given the fact that both titles are currently exclusive to PlayStation VR – or it could simply be to afford the development team more time to polish the videogame. VRFocus has recently reached out to Polyarc requesting more details on the reason for Moss’ delay, and will bring you further details when available.

Essentially what we’re seeing is the VR publishing community following the same pattern as the videogames industry, largely because it’s lead by videogame publishers. This will inevitably change as VR reaches a larger audience less concerned with videogames, but in the meantime care should be taken to avoid the summer lull of new releases and holiday period landslide.