Virtual reality was a major theme of Bethesda’s E3 announcements this year, with titles such as Skyrim, Doom and Fallout 4 all receiving the VR treatment by the end of the year. And it’s popular IPs like this that will drive VR awareness and adoption among consumers, according to research firm SuperData.
"There have been a lot of really interesting game announcements for VR, but it’s the popular IP that is most significant," SuperData’s VP of research and strategy and head of VR/AR strategy StephanieLlamas told MCV.
"Even though there are myriad games that are arguably better than most IP-based VR titles, when it comes to expanding awareness and adoption for the genre, these are the titles that are going to bring in attention from gamers."
However, despite Bethesda’s heavy push on VR this year, Llamas said she still considers Ubisoft to be the "VR trailblazer." Bethesda isn’t far off obtaining a similar status among triple-A publishers, but Llamas notes that Ubisoft’s "desire for first-mover advantage in VR is becoming even more apparent" after other established publishers such as EA and Activision fail to make much movement in the space.
"This isn’t just obvious from [Ubisoft’s] catalogue of titles," said Llamas. "They recently built their own VR engine called Brigitte to further facilitate their internal efforts in the space. Expect them to be the go-to VR publisher moving forward."
It’s not just other publishers who are floundering when it comes to VR, though, as Microsoft also seems to be "sending mixed messages on VR and MR," says Llamas.
"First they shipped Xbox controllers with the Rift; then at last year’s E3 they said the Xbox One X would ‘lead the industry into high-end VR.’ This was the same event where they had Bethesda announce Fallout 4 VR, alluding to the idea that it might be on the new Xbox console. And yet after not mentioning VR at E3 with their Xbox announcement, they stated they are focusing on Mixed Reality for PC.
"It sounds like they made a promise last year that they are finding hard to keep (for what reason I’m not sure) and are trying to divert attention to their other immersive tech initiatives. Console VR or MR feels like an afterthought, so if they do decide to make the leap in the future, they will have to make a big move to overcome PSVR."
As for Nintendo, Llamas wouldn’t be surprised if the platform holder was preparing something for its upcoming Super Nintendo World theme park in Japan.
"This is an easy way to experiment with short-form content that doesn’t require a huge investment," she says. "And it’s on their home turf where they have an extremely loyal following. I suspect this will be the proof of concept they need to dive into VR."