Quality is what makes VR bestsellers says Meta, and it's absolutely right
Over 40 Quest games have already grossed over $10 million, and most became hits thanks to creative concepts and unique gameplay.
At the Game Developers Conference, Meta used these stats to instill confidence in the Meta Quest ecosystem. Currently, 150 VR games are receiving funding from Oculus Publishing. More than $1.5 billion has already been invested. 40 of the Quest titles have grossed more than ten million dollars, some even more than 20 million dollars.
Chris Pruett, Content Director for third-party games, noted that content plays a role in the success of a game in his keynote. There is a "giant correlation between quality and sales," according to Pruett. And I think he's right!
Does quality lead to success on the Quest 2?
Some people might roll their eyes at such a statement, especially in view of simple sales successes like Gorilla Tag or Among Us. But a large part of the successful titles became hits because they emphasized the advantages of the medium of virtual reality with creative ideas.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, for example, achieved quest sales of over $50 million as early as October 2022. The zombie survival RPG took advantage of two factors that make the story much more engaging in the VR.
In virtual reality, life-size "walkers" not only instill more respect. It is also more fun to dismember them in physics-based combat with heavy-impact weapons, to shove them away with a hand, or to feed shells into the shotgun at the last second before blasting yourself out of danger.
Although Skydance struggled with some features in the sequel, progress import works well in Saints & Sinners Chapter 2, even across platforms.
The long-running Into the Radius (currently at number 11 in the sales charts) was similarly creative in the survival genre. Even mundane tasks like cleaning firearms become a fascinating exercise instead of a click-heavy grind thanks to motion control.
Resident Evil as a sales driver in VR
Armature Studios' remake of Resident Evil 4 in VR is also among the deserving successful titles. After just 24 hours, it broke a million in sales. According to Meta, the remake is the fastest-selling VR game in the history of Meta Quest 1 and 2, based on sales in the first week after release. Even among my more 2D-savvy friends, RE4 has sparked a new interest in VR.
It's nice that Meta and Capcom gave the small studio a chance to prove itself. It's a remake, but more precise weapon handling and an adjusted inventory create a fresh gameplay experience.
However, the Quest version should soon look pretty old when the respectable PS5 remake gets its free mode for PSVR 2. The flat version of Resident Evil 4 is already racking up dream scores. The Metacritic average is 93%.
After the graphical leap of the Playstation VR 2, Meta has to be careful not to lose too many classic gamers to Sony.
Pruett mentioned in his GDC presentation that the Quest audience is very different from the VR enthusiasts of the first hour and expects a modern console experience. However, many gamers are likely to have higher expectations for the visuals than even major projects like Assassin's Creed Nexus can achieve on the Quest 2's mobile chip.
Pruett also has a good announcement for this. There is still untapped graphics potential in the Quest 2. VR games like Red Matter 2 prove that there is plenty of room for optimization in most games. The Quest 3, which is planned for 2023, should also make a good leap forward — if the rumors about a chip that is twice as fast prove to be true.
Nevertheless, it cannot keep up with the PSVR 2, since a powerful Playstation 5 powers Sony's VR headset.
Mass market or creativity
Of course, I would be happy if big productions like Ubisoft finally push Virtual Reality even more into the mass market. Greater success could also make the medium less risky for smaller studios without having to rely on the support of platform operators.
However, part of me hopes that the VR gaming market doesn't slip into the typical AAA titles and nostalgia exploitation games that already dominate in PC gaming and consoles.
Even detractors of arcade hits like Beat Saber, (best-selling #1), Among Us VR (#3), or the free-to-play Gorilla Tag ($26 million in sales with in-app purchases) have to give these titles credit for becoming surprise successes through creative mechanics.
As a VR monkey, for example, there is a very unique movement scheme in which players push each other forward with their arms. This willingness to experiment, which can still be felt in VR games, reminds me pleasantly of old C64 and Amiga times when concepts were not so often forced into fixed genres and gameplay styles.