The higher-than-expected number of players who tried Resident Evil VII in VR was a surprise to Sony and has shaped its PS4 strategy.
That appears to be the message from PlayStation's global sales and marketing boss Jim Ryan, who told Games Industry: We had no idea that VR would play such a significant part in the success of Resident Evil VII. The percentage of people who played that game on PS4, and then in VR, was in double digits. It wasn't 10.1 per cent, either. That was a big surprise to us.
Whether its other full game modes, or portions of full games... Gran Turismo or Doom or Elder Scrolls... that might accelerate the VR demand. Or if it will be the shorter form stuff. We don't know yet. It is too early. I think we are still really just learning about VR. We are still in our infancy in terms of understanding.”
However, Ryan made an additional comment about VR's role within PlayStation that has upset some among the indie community.
One of the things we have realised is that these video collages of ten indie games shown in a minute, is almost meaningless. Nobody can really learn anything about the games in that sort of time. It is almost viewed as wasted time,” he said when asked about the lack of indie games at Sony's E3 conference.
There was a time and a place, in the early stages of the life of PS4, to make statements. It was more about making a statement that we are serious about the indies, and that we are doing this and that with the indies... It is less relevant now. We have VR to talk about now, for example.”
This comment led to some heated and disheartened discussions among indie developers on Twitter, and is now resulting in some quite pointed editorial on the subject.
Engadget, for instance, has run with a piece headlined Sony is losing its grip on the indie market”. It cites the departure of big indie evangelists Adam Boyes and Nick Suttner from Sony last year, along with increased efforts from Nintendo to court indies. It also goes as far as to cite growing indie-focused publishers like Devolver (whose E3 press 'conference' was quite something) as a growing force that's ready to plug any gaps left by Sony.