CCP Games, the video game Vikings who brought us EVE Online, made a surprise return to VR after almost 2 years last month, with a smashing ‘Championship Update’ for its competitive virtual reality (VR) sport, Sparc.
Sparc, released in 2017, is a fast-paced VR experience where players try to hurl their orb at their opponent to score points, whilst avoiding being hit themselves. Players can throw, dodge, block and deflect in this videogame. If I were to describe this sport, I’d say it’s a somewhat futuristic version of dodgeball. Based on what I’ve seen and the responses from players, I’d also say it’s not too farfetched to entertain the idea of making this a future Olympic sport.
So the sudden update, what does this mean for CCP? Are they back into VR development? Well, let’s look at this from a commercial mindset. One feature from the update includes Ranked Mode, which enables players to compete, cross-platform, against players of a similar level. Based on a player’s record, players are positioned in one of five tiers (Bronze to Legend) and are ranked in a leaderboard fashion against others.
With the rise of esports (expected to exceed $1 billion in 2019), twitch streaming, and the recent outburst by Palmer Luckey (co-founder of Oculus) on Rift CV1 and GearVR, selling over 10 million units, I think it’s safe to say that there is a sizable market for CCP to comeback. From my experience working with gaming studios, especially in-app, I’ve learned that the return on investment or potential return is what dictates a project’s priority.
As the technology of VR hardware advances and the cost of production goes down, the demand from consumers for lower costing headsets will increase. When this happens, as we have seen happen with smartphones, the VR industry will reach a boom.
By riding the wave of competitive gaming and leveraging cross-platform functionalities, CCP is able to reach a much wider audience than back in 2017. I’d say now is just the right time to establish themselves as a major publisher in the VR space, just in time for the inevitable boom. I believe in the upcoming months we’ll be hearing a lot more from Sparc and CCP.
For those interested, Sparc is available for PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, offering PvP cross-platform action.