‘Batman: Arkham Shadow’ Trailer Massively Downvoted for Being a VR Game & Quest 3 Exclusive

Meta announced Batman: Arkham Shadow last week, which is coming exclusively to Quest 3 in late 2024. And wouldn’t you know it, YouTube users absolutely hate it.

Although YouTube disabled the dislike button counter in 2021, you can still get a good idea of how the public is reacting to any given video by installing an extension to your browser, like Chrome’s ‘Return YouTube Dislike‘.

Released officially through both IGN’s main YouTube channel and Meta’s own YouTube channel (linked below) on May 1st, Batman: Arkham Shadow’s announcement trailer really seems to be racking up the dislikes.

These sorts of browser extensions don’t actually have direct access to the platform’s API, making the number you see more guesswork than anything. Still, it’s pretty clear people aren’t happy with Batman: Arkham Shadow. At the time of this writing, IGN’s video has a 3:11 like-to-dislike ratio, while Meta’s own video has nearly a 1:2 ratio.

And where is the hate coming from? Basically, from the early ’90s until 2017, there’s been a Batman game released nearly every year, with standouts such as Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009), Batman: Arkham City (2011), and Batman: Arkham Knight (2015) garnering a pretty big following across console.

Then, Batman: Arkham Shadow shows up on the radar, a VR-only game that is exclusive to Quest 3—two things that aren’t communicated to the casual viewer until they physically click on the video. This presents not only a bit of a bait-and-switch for gamers hoping for the next long-awaited Arkham title, but also an all too real sign that Meta is likely phasing out Quest 2 and Quest Pro later this year.

Top-rated comments across the two video releases:

  • “Is there a lore reason why WB hates Arkham fans?” – @ethansolomon2126
  • “Guessing that thousands will see and click for immediate disappointment.” – @angelchang5194
  • “r/Batmanarkham is gonna go insane over this” – @-.Springtrap.
  • “I am vengeance, I am the night, I am exclusively playable on the META Quest 3, I AM BATMAN!” – @Blitzwinger

Hardcore fandom doesn’t always react so viscerally though. When Valve released its announcement trailer for Half-Life: Alyx in late 2019, it was actually universally liked despite being the first Half-Life in 16 years. Valve however went about setting expectations very differently, which may explain at least some of the Batman hate. The PC VR-only game, which had already been subject to rumors in the months leading up, was actually confirmed by Valve nearly a week before its announcement trailer was released. People who clicked on it already basically knew what they were in for.

There’s still plenty to learn though. Besides the fact that it’s being developed by Oculus Studios and Meta-owned developer Camouflaj, the same studio behind Iron Man VR, we still don’t know anything about the game’s scope or narrative. What is certain though is we’re sure to learn more at Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest on June 7 at 2:00 PM PT (local time here).

The post ‘Batman: Arkham Shadow’ Trailer Massively Downvoted for Being a VR Game & Quest 3 Exclusive appeared first on Road to VR.

One of Meta’s Most Well-funded VR Games is Shuttering Multiplayer This Year

Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond (2020) was set to be the storied franchise’s first big push into virtual reality when it launched in late 2020, offering up some of its characteristic WWII combat missions alongside what hoped to be a robust online multiplayer. Now, less than three years since launch, EA’s Respawn Entertainment say they’re pulling the plug on multiplayer.

Arguably the best part of Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond was its online multiplayer, but that’s going to change before year’s end. The developers quietly posted this message on the game’s Quest page, appended above its original description:

“Multiplayer will be unavailable starting on December 1, 2023.”

The studio hasn’t provided any reasoning beyond the short message, although it’s fairly clear why the developers don’t want to pay for server space anymore. The well-funded and much hyped Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond suffered a pretty rocky launch, and never managed to gain the sort of sustained support either the developer Respawn Entertainment or Meta’s in-house publisher Oculus Studios were aiming for.

Originally released on the Oculus PC platform and SteamVR headsets back in December 2020, EA’s Respawn Entertainment was hoping to make a splash with its first VR-exclusive entry into the franchise, having worked on the WWII shooter for three years before launch. At $60 on PC VR when it first released, requiring a massive 180GB to install, expectations were set for what promised to be a true ‘AAA’ VR shooter. Alas, the game suffered from a host of issues at launch, which ranged from usability to gameplay polish, essentially rendering it a costly flop.

Still, Respawn and Meta (then Facebook) pushed through the game’s middling launch on PC VR by slimming down the game to fit on Quest 2, offering up its eight-hour campaign and online multiplayer to a wider audience a year after it launched on Rift and Steam. In an effort to win back good will, the studio even reduced the price to $40 and slimmed down the file size on Quest to fit on the headset’s 64GB variant.

That said, you probably still won’t see a lot of love for Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond—certainly not on the scale of the now dearly departed Echo VR, Meta’s own VR sports game which was shuttered earlier this month. Medal of Honor VR’s last update was in late 2021, basically showing the studio abandoned the game long before it decided to shut down servers just short of its three-year anniversary since launch.

While this isn’t the first MoH title to see the axe, it is the youngest among the group. EA deprecated online support for a number of MoH titles in February 2023, including Medal of Honor (2010), Medal of Honor: Warfighter (2012) and Medal of Honor: Airborne (2007)—all of which benefitted from wide support across PC, Xbox and PS consoles throughout their tenure.

Meta’s Twisted Pixel Studio is Building an Unannounced VR Title with Unreal Engine

Following the studio’s acquisition by Meta late last year, we haven’t heard much about Twisted Pixel, a veteran VR game studio which made several exclusive titles for Meta. Now we’ve learned of the first details of the studio’s next project.

Following the launch of several non-VR games, Twisted Pixel Games in recent years has become largely focused on VR. The studio has built several VR games, exclusively published by Oculus Studios, for the Rift, Go, and Quest headsets. The most recent being Path of the Warrior (2019) for Quest and Rift.

After working closely with Twisted Pixel under Oculus Studios, it was announced late last year that Meta had acquired the studio, along with several others.

Considering that we haven’t seen any new release or even game announcement from Twisted Pixel since late 2019, it wasn’t clear if the studio had remained properly intact, or if it had been absorbed into the Meta mothership and scattered to the wind.

But now we have our first glimpse of an answer. According to job postings published this year, the studio has been seeking to fill various roles to work on an “unannounced VR game using the Unreal Engine.”

Considering Meta’s priorities at this moment, it’s almost certain the game will be built for standalone Quest headsets only.

The mention of Unreal Engine (specifically UE4, as noted in some listings) is certainly interesting. There’s a very small handful of Quest games that have been built with Unreal Engine. The other, more popular choice by far, is Unity, which is largely thought to scale better to the low-end hardware of the Quest headsets; not to mention it’s almost always the first to get the latest Quest developer tools from Meta.

Other job listings for Twisted Pixel mention “experience developing a multiplayer networked game” among the ‘Preferred Qualifications’ of candidates, which gives a strong indication the next game from the studio will be built with some kind of multiplayer functionality.

Considering the timing of the studio’s acquisition announcement, we’d guess that Twisted Pixel is actively building a VR game that’s primarily targeting to launch with Quest 3, or shortly thereafter (though will probably be backwards compatible with Quest 2 as well). With Quest 3 rapidly approaching, we should learn more about the studio’s upcoming game in due time.

‘Iron Man VR’ Gets 25% Permanent Price Reduction on Quest

Meta announced the high-flying superhero game Marvel’s Iron Man VR (2020) has a new permanent price, bringing it to $30.

Once a PSVR exclusive, Iron Man VR on Quest 2 and Quest Pro lets you suit up as Tony Stark and take to the sky to fight evil. The action-adventure game is now available at a new price of $30, or 25% off the original $40 purchase price.

When it launched on PSVR in July 2020, we gave it a rating of ‘Great’ in our full review, calling it VR’s “first great superhero game.” We liked it so much at the time, we later awarded it with the PSVR Game of the Year in 2020.

What makes Iron Man VR so great? It’s packed with unique mechanics and a full course of fun and engaging content—not to mention an actually worthwhile story.

Here’s how developers Camoflaj describe it:

Tap into your inner Super Hero as you step into Iron Man’s armor and blast into the skies. Explore Tony’s garage to customize and upgrade an arsenal of gear, gadgets, and weapons. Hit the afterburners and feel the rush of flying hundreds of miles an hour. Use all of Tony Stark’s resources to find the mysterious villain Ghost and her army of hacked Stark drones. Experience this action-packed immersive Iron Man adventure now.

You can get it today at the new low price of $30 on the Quest Store.

Meta Keeps the Oculus Name Alive as Third-party VR Publisher Becomes ‘Oculus Publishing’

Meta has nearly scrubbed all of its products of the Oculus name, however the company today announced its third-party publishing wing is getting a sort of rebrand that will see the Oculus name live on.

Meta announced at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) that it’s naming its third-party publishing arm Oculus Publishing. The company tells us Oculus Studios, its first-party studio, will continue to exist.

To date, Meta’s growing fleet of acquired first-party studios includes Beat Games (Beat Saber), Sanzaru Games (Asgard’s Wrath), Ready at Dawn (Lone Echo & Echo VR), Downpour Interactive (Onward), BigBox VR (Population: One), and Within (Supernatural).

Third-party titles under Oculus Publishing include Among Us VR (Innersloth, Schell Games), Bonelab (Stress Level Zero), The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners (Skydance Interactive), and Blade & Sorcery: Nomad (Warpfrog).

Notably, there’s little left that sports the Oculus brand since the company made its big metaverse pivot in October 2021. Besides older hardware, the only things most people see with the ‘Oculus’ moniker is the Oculus PC app and Meta’s Oculus web portal, where the company still lists game libraries for Quest, Rift, Go, and Gear VR.

“This year marks a full decade since the inception of the original Oculus Content Team,” the company says in a developer blog post. “From Kickstarter to Quest, Meta has committed hundreds of millions of dollars in third-party content funding and specialized development support to help make the VR games landscape what it is today. Now, we’re excited to unveil an official name for one of the world’s largest VR games programs for developers: Oculus Publishing.”

The company says Oculus Publishing will continue to directly partner with development teams on conceptualization, funding, production, technology advancement, game engineering, promotion and merchandising.

The company says it’s contributed funding to “more than 300 titles,” and that there are another 150 titles in active development today.

No Oculus Studios Projects At E3, Facebook Confirms

Facebook will not be showing any new Oculus Studios projects during next week’s E3 streams.

Studios Executive Producer Mike Doran confirmed as much in a recent post on Reddit. “The Oculus Studios team will not be showing anything at E3,” Doran said, “but stay tuned!”

To be clear, Doran is only speaking on behalf of Oculus Studios – it’s possible that Facebook’s VR efforts still pop up during E3 in some way.

Facebook hasn’t announced another VR Gaming Showcase for the big event – it held its first one in April. There are several Studios projects we know about on the horizon right now – Rift exclusive Lone Echo 2 is finally coming this summer and Facebook is partnering with Capcom to bring Resident Evil 4 to the Quest 2 as the platform’s first full exclusive. A similar partnership with Ubisoft will bring Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell to VR, too.

Last month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg also seemed to accidentally confirm that Facebook-owned Downpour Interactive is making Onward 2.

It’s not too surprising that Oculus Studios is skipping E3, however. We’re now likely just a few months away from Facebook’s annual VR event, Facebook Connect, which is where the company often puts a big spotlight on news games. We might well see another Gaming Showcase before or around that time, too.

Of course, E3 won’t be without VR news. On Friday we confirmed that we’ll be bringing back the Upload VR Showcase over the course of the show. You can tune in on June 12th at 3pm PT for new game trailers and reveals not just for Quest titles but PSVR and PC VR too. You won’t want to miss it!

 

Facebook: ‘Long Term’ Oculus Studios Titles Targeting Quest 2

Oculus Studios titles releasing in the “long term” are targeting the Oculus Quest 2, according to Executive Producer Mike Doran.

The comment was made in a fairly obscure post on Reddit asking whether any big studio titles were coming to Quest. One user commented that games such as After the Fall and Resident Evil 4 are on the way, then tagged Oculus Studios Executive Producer Mike Doran and mentioned he had previously said that there were some long-term projects in the works.

Doran then chimed in to reveal a bit more. “I can’t say for sure when announcements will happen but there are several long term projects being produced by the Studios team that have yet to be revealed,” he wrote. He then also responded to a follow-up comment and said that “the long term Studios projects [he] referred to are all targeting Quest 2.”

In some respects this isn’t a huge surprise — towards the end of last year, Facebook confirmed that its PC VR headset the Rift S would be retired and that it wouldn’t be releasing any new PC VR-only headsets. The focus is now squarely on standalone VR, with the goal of making the Quest 2 the main and “best” PC VR experience on offer.

With Facebook’s line of dedicated PC VR headsets gone, it’s not shocking that all of Oculus Studios’ unannounced projects are targeting Quest 2. Facebook have also previously indicated that its intention is for Quest 2 to be in the market “for a long while”, despite also confirming work on an unannounced Quest Pro headset. Still, news that projects that are further out will still be targeting Quest 2 should relieve some concerns from owners worried Facebook might be making Quest Pro or perhaps even Quest 3 exclusive software in the immediate future.

It’s not quite the same story for Quest 1 – this year’s release of Resident Evil 4 will be exclusive to Quest 2.

In a separate Reddit post, Doran also confirmed that the “Oculus Studios team will not be showing anything at E3” this year, so don’t expect any of those projects to be revealed over the next few weeks.

That being said, his comment leaves the door open for other companies to reveal VR content at E3 later this year… We might have something to say about that very soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

Oculus Gaming Showcase Drops New Resident Evil 4 Footage

Resident Evil 4

It was only a week ago that Capcom officially announced that Resident Evil 4 would be coming to Oculus Quest 2 in 2021. With the Oculus Gaming Showcase today, Facebook has released further details regarding how Armature Studio and Oculus Studios are bringing this 16-year old videogame to life in virtual reality (VR).

Resident Evil 4 Oculus Quest 2

The first Oculus Quest 2 exclusive videogame – sorry original Quest owners – Resident Evil 4 will have completely remastered art with Armature Studio either repainting or increasing the resolution on over 4,500 textures. Fans of the fourth instalment will also notice the character animations remain untouched, staying true to the Capcom original. Plus all the cutscenes maintain the same format.

As for the gameplay, it’s now first-person, playing through Leon’s eyes. As VR players have become accustomed to interacting with virtual worlds Resident Evil 4 ensures that’s still the case, with weapons and other items rebuilt so you can pick them up. The world of Resident Evil is known for its inventory systems but in VR your weapons won’t be hidden away, they’ll be on your person ready to quickly grab. You can even dual wield if you want to.

When it comes to the important mechanic of movement the teams aim to ensure Resident Evil 4 is going to be as comfortable as possible for all players. There will be normal continuous locomotion for the most immersive experience, alongside teleportation and room-scale movement for maximum flexibility. “With plenty of comfort options at your disposal, you can also play through the game comfortably while seated,” notes the Oculus Blog.

Resident Evil 4 Oculus Quest 2

You’ll be able to see in the video that information like health and ammo is displayed on a wristwatch so there’s no HUD to spoil the view, and the guns manually reload, so you can pump shotgun shells into those raging enemies. What’s not been shown are the QTE’s (quick-time events) and how they been handled – or possibly removed completely?

From the details shared so far, Resident Evil 4 for Oculus Quest 2 seems to be shaping up nicely, and could very well help to shift a few headsets when it launches. Still no date at the moment, just later this year. For continued updates on the project, keep reading VRFocus.

Have Facebook’s Big Bets on Oculus Exclusive Games Been Successful? A Data-driven Look

Facebook has purportedly spent at least $500 million to bring a wide range of content to its VR headsets. A portion of that investment was bet on big budget exclusive games, like Asgard’s Wrath and Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, which aimed to satisfy a craving for AA and AAA VR content among gamers. But how much impact did it have?

While Facebook has funded a wide range of VR content, from 360 videos to non-exclusive indie VR games, the company has stated that a portion of the money it has spent on VR content was with the explicit goal of delivering larger AA and AAA titles to its platform that would attract gamers accustomed to seeing large scope, high production value content in the non-VR gaming world. These large titles represented many of the largest single bets the company placed on VR content, and indeed, many of the best-funded projects in all of VR, with some titles believed to have budgets in the tens of millions of dollars.

Defining Scope

Right up front it should be said that there’s a number of different ways one could consider Facebook’s Oculus exclusive content ‘successful’ or not. And, since we don’t know the budgets of each game, there’s not a clear definition for what even counts as the ‘big bets’ the company has made on content.

I’ll be clearly defining the assumptions made in order to answer these questions, starting with which games we’ll focus on.

First, we’re going to be looking specifically at the Oculus PC store since the bulk of Oculus exclusive content was made for that marketplace, giving us more data to analyze.

To look at the ‘big bets’, let’s start by listing all of the games the ‘Oculus Originals‘ section (and pulling in known ‘Oculus Studios’ titles that are oddly omitted). From there let’s only look at titles with a launch price higher than $30, as we can use the launch price as a proxy for how much value the project was expected to be worth (and therefore a coarse indication of the budget). There’s one exception to this rule which is the Vader Immortal games. I chose to keep all three in the list because they were released rapidly (all in the same year) and were effectively meant to form one complete $30 experience (in fact, on PSVR they are all sold as a single game with a $30 price tag).

This leaves us with the following list of 25 ‘big bets’ Facebook placed on VR games.

Game Release Developer
Chronos 2016 Gunfire
Feral Rites 2016 Insomniac
Edge of Nowhere 2016 Insomniac
Eve Valkyrie 2016 CCP
The Climb 2016 Crytek
Robo Recall 2017 Epic
Rock Band VR 2017 Harmonix
Wilson’s Heart 2017 Twisted Pixel
The Mage’s Tale 2017 inXile
Lone Echo 2017 Ready at Dawn
Arktika.1 2017 4A Games
From Other Suns 2017 Gunfire
Brass Tactics 2018 Hidden Path
Marvel Powers United VR 2018 Sanzaru
Dance Central 2019 Harmonix
Journey of the Gods 2019 Turtle Rock
Vader Immortal I 2019 ILMxLAB
Vader Immortal II 2019 ILMxLAB
Vader Immortal III 2019 ILMxLAB
Stormland 2019 Insomniac
Asgard’s Wrath 2019 Sanzaru
Sports Scramble 2019 Armature
Lies Beneath 2020 Drifter
Phantom: Covert Ops 2020 nDreams
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond 2020 Respawn

Defining Value

Now the question is, ‘how do we determine if the bets Facebook placed on these games were successful’?

From Facebook’s standpoint, these large exclusive content investments were made to jumpstart its VR content library, and to show gamers that polished, large scope VR games were available and ready to be played.

Thus, looking at ‘value provided to customers’ seems like a good approach to consider the ‘success’ of that proposition. Luckily, each customer has the opportunity to voice their opinion of a game’s value by giving the game a rating based on their experience with it compared to what they paid. Here’s how these 25 games stack up by user ratings:

Game Release Developer User Reviews
Lone Echo 2017 Ready at Dawn 4.70
Brass Tactics 2018 Hidden Path 4.69
Robo Recall 2017 Epic 4.68
Dance Central 2019 Harmonix 4.64
Vader Immortal I 2019 ILMxLAB 4.55
Asgard’s Wrath 2019 Sanzaru 4.49
Stormland 2019 Insomniac 4.48
Journey of the Gods 2019 Turtle Rock 4.47
Edge of Nowhere 2016 Insomniac 4.44
Vader Immortal III 2019 ILMxLAB 4.40
Chronos 2016 Gunfire 4.39
Lies Beneath 2020 Drifter 4.35
Phantom: Covert Ops 2020 nDreams 4.34
Wilson’s Heart 2017 Twisted Pixel 4.32
From Other Suns 2017 Gunfire 4.31
The Climb 2016 Crytek 4.27
Vader Immortal II 2019 ILMxLAB 4.26
Sports Scramble 2019 Armature 4.26
The Mage’s Tale 2017 inXile 4.21
Rock Band VR 2017 Harmonix 4.03
Arktika.1 2017 4A Games 4.01
Marvel Powers United VR 2018 Sanzaru 3.88
Feral Rites 2016 Insomniac 3.83
Eve Valkyrie 2016 CCP 3.82
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond 2020 Respawn 3.81

Comparing Value

So now we have a way to gauge how players valued these exclusive games. But how do we determine if it was ‘worth it’ for Facebook to have made these bets in the first place?

Clearly the goal of bringing these titles to market was to raise the value of the company’s VR content offering. By comparing the rating of each exclusive to the average rating of all games released that year* we can get an idea of ‘how much’ each game added to or detracted from that year’s baseline content quality.

Game Release Rating Rating vs. Release Year Average Rating
Edge of Nowhere 2016 4.44 +0.78
Chronos 2016 4.39 +0.73
The Climb 2016 4.27 +0.61
Feral Rites 2016 3.83 +0.17
Eve Valkyrie 2016 3.82 +0.16
Lone Echo 2017 4.70 +0.80
Robo Recall 2017 4.68 +0.78
Wilson’s Heart 2017 4.32 +0.42
From Other Suns 2017 4.31 +0.41
The Mage’s Tale 2017 4.21 +0.31
Rock Band VR 2017 4.03 +0.13
Arktika.1 2017 4.01 +0.11
Brass Tactics 2018 4.69 +0.62
Marvel Powers United VR 2018 3.88 −0.18
Dance Central 2019 4.64 +0.43
Vader Immortal I 2019 4.55 +0.34
Asgard’s Wrath 2019 4.49 +0.29
Stormland 2019 4.48 +0.27
Journey of the Gods 2019 4.47 +0.27
Vader Immortal III 2019 4.40 +0.20
Vader Immortal II 2019 4.26 +0.06
Sports Scramble 2019 4.26 +0.05
Lies Beneath 2020 4.35 +0.28
Phantom: Covert Ops 2020 4.34 +0.27
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond 2020 3.81 −0.26

* games with less than 100 reviews are excluded from the release year average to remove outliers

So we can see that Oculus exclusives have a good track record at least of exceeding the average game rating in their given release year.

Outliers: The low ratings of Marvel Powers United VR and Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, are particularly interesting. It’s easy to imagine that big budget games automatically get a boost to user ratings thanks to more resources for polish and presentation. But those two games are thought to be two of the three largest investments Facebook has made in Oculus exclusive content. What happened?

To an extent, this means most of the exclusive content investments the company made have positively benefited the overall position of the content library. But ‘how much’ matters here too; this is the year-by-year breakdown:

Year
Average Rating Difference Among Oculus Exclusives
2016 +9.80%
2017 +8.44%
2018 +4.42%
2019 +4.78%
2020 +1.96%

It’s clear to see here that Facebook’s efforts never managed to produce content which exceeded the release year’s average by more than 10%, and the benefit of Oculus exclusives, against games released in the same year, dropped off steadily as time went on.

There’s two likely explanations for this. Either Facebook’s bets were getting worse over time, or non-exclusive content was getting better over time. While it could be a combination of the two, it appears that the latter is the most significant factor, which we can see when comparing the average rating of games in the library each year to the average rating of Oculus exclusive games in the same year.

Continue on Page 2: A Better Way? »

The post Have Facebook’s Big Bets on Oculus Exclusive Games Been Successful? A Data-driven Look appeared first on Road to VR.