It’s been five years since Sony released PlayStation VR on PS4 consoles, and to commemorate the anniversary its creators have released the top five most-played PSVR games to date.
Unlike its monthly top-download list, Sony has stacked up all of its 500+ games on the store and ranked them according to playtime hours, showing us just where most people have been spending their time on the now five year-old headset.
Here’s the global list, although you’ll also find regional breakdowns below:
Most-Played PSVR Games (Global)
Rec Room (2017)
Beat Saber (2018)
PlayStation VR Worlds (2016)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR (2017)
Resident Evil 7 biohazard (2017)
Unsurprisingly at the top of the global list is Rec Room, which launched on PSVR back in late 2017. The social VR platform is free, and includes a host of mini-games which rival some of the bespoke paid content on the store.
The cross-platform game is also constantly evolving thanks to the inclusion of user-generated content, new first-party content like the Mario Kart-style Rec Rally mini-game all of which shares common usership across desktop, PCVR, console (Xbox and PS), and mobile devices running Android and iOS.
Rec Room seems to have done well across Europe and North America, although it didn’t make the list in Japan. Here’s the regional breakdowns.
Europe: Rec Room, PlayStation VR Worlds, Beat Saber, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim VR, Resident Evil 7 biohazard
NorthAmerica: Rec Room, Beat Saber, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, Job Simulator, Firewall: Zero Hour
Japan: Resident Evil 7 biohazard, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, PlayStation VR Worlds, Beat Saber, Gran Turismo Sport
There’s still no word on when the next PlayStation VR headset is coming; Sony has said previously the headset won’t launch until ‘sometime after 2021’. Maybe there’s a barn-burner sale coming this Holiday Season to help wipe out stock before the company makes a commitment to show off the new hardware?
Although just a rumor at this point, the next-gen hardware is reportedly packing some pretty impressive specs like eye-tracking, inside-out positional tracking, and resolutions reported to be 2,000 × 2,040 pixels per-eye. Bear in mind that none of that’s substantiated, so we’ll just have to wait and see when Sony decides the time is right.
It’s PlayStation VR’s 5th birthday, so I’m going to do what we should all try to do on birthdays: say something really nice about it. Something that, as a life-long PlayStation user, I don’t say lightly.
PSVR was the best peripheral Sony’s gaming division has ever made. There, I said it.
Sony’s history with console peripherals and spin-offs has been, let’s face it, a little rocky. For every time PlayStation captured a certain market with a specific concept, there were two or three other attempts that didn’t quite take off. The PS2-era SingStar mics and Buzz controllers found a home in Europe, but the PS3’s Move controllers struggled to truly differentiate themselves in the face of the technically simplified — and much cheaper — Nintendo Wii.
This is true even of its side-projects like the PS Vita. That handheld was, for all intents and purposes, a little miracle of a device, but a lack of software support and the increasing shift towards mobile games really hurt its chances. The general trepidation around launching a VR headset on PS4 was certainly understandable, then.
Five years on, I’d argue PSVR was not only the rare PlayStation peripheral success story (or at least relative success story), but the best side-venture Sony has pursued in PlayStation’s 25+ year history.
That verdict was far from assured. PSVR faced an uphill battle as a $399 add-on for an already expensive console that also required a complicated sprawl of wires for an experience that — at the time — precious few people could attest to. Not to mention that the headset used the already-aged Move controllers and a tracking system that couldn’t keep up with you if turned your back away from a camera. Overall it seemed like a much bigger risk than motion controllers or karaoke microphones.
But PSVR, and VR in general, proved too interesting a prospect for many developers to ignore. The headset had a surprisingly strong launch lineup that let you become Batman, drive a tank, race cars and pilot a spaceship. None of this content resembled the top-end of PlayStation’s usual output, like the impeccably produced Uncharted series or the God of War reboot, but it was a diverse portfolio that really scratched at something not often seen in the gaming market, something genuinely new. Even if a lot of the content coming to PSVR was on the scrappy side, you had to respect the sheer amount of innovation in the scene.
And that’s true of the wider library five years on. There are perhaps only a handful of truly incredible, fully native PSVR games. Astro Bot’s breadth of charming ideas certainly comes to mind, as do the genuinely unique experiences offered in The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners and Superhot VR. But the platform is in no short supply of good, even great attempts to bring beloved genres, franchises and even entirely different gaming experiences to VR. Iron Man VR’s archnemesis might’ve been limited computing power, but it delivered on its core goal of thrilling superhero combat. Hitman 3 didn’t fully implement motion controls, but sneaking through corridors by physically leaning provided a fresh angle on Agent 47’s adventures. Even if this wasn’t the definitive way to play the game, it was a truly different experience that didn’t feel shoehorned in.
These were games that had developers tapping at the glass ceiling if never smashing right the way through it. But, given just how unwieldy VR development remains even five years on, that’s kind of enough.
But PSVR’s successes can’t be attributed to Sony on its own. Yes, the platform holder was no doubt instrumental to securing giant exclusives like Resident Evil 7 and, more recently, Hitman 3, but a lot of PSVR’s best games have come from developers’ desire to create something previously unseen. In Stockholm, former DICE and King developers gathered for a fresh start with studios like Fast Travel Games. In Seattle, people that once worked on Halo took a chance on Moss and in the process unearthed a unique layer of player/protagonist relationships we hadn’t really seen before.
Artists that hadn’t really made games before like Innerspace created A Fisherman’s Tale, which provided possibly the most mind-bending puzzle experience of the past few years. Even the sci-fi blockbuster action of the PlayStation-published Farpoint was born out of a former Sony developer’s experiments with a gun-shaped controller.
It’s that hunger to break the mold that really sustained PSVR during a time in which bigger publishers were hesitant to commit to the wider medium. And these titles have led the headset to a respectable milestone: 5 million units sold as of January 2020. Now, compared to the many millions of units the PS4 itself has shifted, that’s nothing. But stacked up against the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headsets it released alongside it’s thought to be the clear winner (the lifetime sales of those two devices was never fully revealed). It’s a modest landmark to say the least but it served as a rare beacon of encouragement until VR headsets could become cheaper, more accessible and ultimately much more viable products.
As the headset has aged, it’s faced tougher challenges. PC VR headsets got better and cheaper, with tracking systems that practically fossilized Sony’s solution, and the sublime simplicity of the Oculus Quest has made it increasingly tougher to stand its ground as we wait for PS5 VR. And yet, somehow, the platform has still had notable releases even in 2021 with Hitman 3, Song in the Smoke and Fracked.
But it is time, though, to look beyond. PSVR has had a great run, better than many had expected it to, in fact. I can’t wait to see Sony bring this level of commitment to a new device on a machine far more capable of delivering complex, visually-rich VR titles and (hopefully) with much better tracking. It’s the story I’m most looking forward to covering in 2022.
But PSVR made plenty of magic with the tools it was given. At a time when VR’s future was far from certain, it proved to be the little headset that could. And I’ll remember every moment of eye-opening immersion, every struggle to get a Move controller to properly calibrate, every terrible VR movie tie-in and every unbridled scream of jump scare terror with immense fondness.
Camouflaj, the developers behind 2020’s PSVR exclusive Iron Man VR, are hiring a number of positions for a new AAA title.
There’s nine positions total, available over on the careers section of Camouflaj’s site, all of which describe roles working on “a new AAA project.” Some open positions include concept artists, gameplay engineers, animation leader and more. The listings don’t specify whether the AAA title is a VR title or just a traditional flatscreen game. However, many of the listings indicate that “experience with VR” or “experience working in the VR space” would be a bonus (albeit not a requirement).
Camouflaj’s focus has been on VR titles for a number of years now. Republique was their last non-VR title, released as an episodic stealth game for mobile devices and then ported and launched on GearVR, PC VR and PSVR. The team was also behind the PSVR-exclusive Iron Man VR — a game made in partnership and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment.
“Ultimately it’s up to how the game performs, it’s up to our partners over at PlayStation and Marvel,” he said. “But as developers we absolutely loved working on Marvel’s Iron Man VR and we would obviously be super interested to continue working on it.”
Gran Turismo 7 developer Polyphony Digital is tight-lipped about potential PS5 VR and PSVR support… for now.
In an interview with Eurogamer, series creator Kazunori Yamauchi was asked about PSVR support for the upcoming racing sim. He simply replied: “So regarding PSVR, we’re not at a state where we cannot talk about it yet.”
Well, that’s not a no at least.
Will Gran Turismo 7 Support PSVR 2?
The question of Gran Turismo 7 and PSVR support is an interesting one. PS4 exclusive Gran Turismo Sport did feature support for Sony’s first VR headset but only in very limited time trial and one-on-one AI race modes. We thought the support itself was fantastic, but the lack of options — likely due to the extra processing demands VR puts on the console — really hurt its longevity.
In fact, in 2019 Yamauchi himself said that one of the biggest improvements he expected to see in the next generation of consoles was with VR support. “The first thing that’s going to be affected by more power is VR,” he said. “I don’t think that there’s anything else that requires that much processing power. I really like VR; I’m one to believe in the possibilities of it, and it’s very suited for a driving game.”
Those comments, combined with Yamauchi’s answer above, give us hope that Gran Turismo 7 could end up supporting the upcoming PS5 VR headset. The device isn’t launching this year, though we are expecting it to arrive sometime in 2022. You can read up on everything we know so far right here.
GT7 itself launches on March 4 on PS5 and PS4, and it will be interesting to see if the latter version has any support to speak of this time around.
A new update adds support for PS4 Pro on the PSVR exclusive title Arashi: Castles of Sin, developed by Endeavor One.
We first learned about the PS4 Pro patch just over a week ago, with little detail on what PS4 Pro-specific improvements we might see or when the update might arrive. According to Endeavor One on Twitter, the update is available now and we know a bit more about what changes to expect.
On patch 1.3, PS4 Pro players should see improved resolution, improved anti-aliasing support, increased LOD distance, increased shadow distance, anisotropic filtering on and improved stability. That’s all that was listed in this reply tweet, so for anything more specific you might be best off just giving the new update a go yourself and seeing how noticeable the changes are.
These changes should also apply to players using PSVR on PS5 via backwards compatibility, as the PS5 should run PS4 games with their PS4 Pro settings profile. Endeavor previously hinted that PS5-specific updates were a possibility, but there’s no update on that front yet — it’s seemingly just the PS4 Pro changes for now.
Arashi: Castles of Sin launched early last month and in our review, we found that it was a solid title with great open-ended design. However, we were also let down in a few areas that we felt held the game back just slightly. Here’s an except:
It’s a rare VR game that gives you genuine choice in deciding how to get from A to B and, when it works, captures the slick elitism of becoming a ninja. But it’s let down by clumsier elements, like bugs, bad enemy AI and underwhelming sword combat. Even these dark forces combined aren’t enough to derail the fun sneaking at the core of the experience, but there’s plenty of room for Arashi to improve with a potential sequel.
Sony Interactive Entertainment today announced it is acquiring Firesprite, the developer of VR horror hit, The Persistence.
The acquisition was announced over on the PlayStation Blog, though no financial details of the deal were disclosed. Firesprite itself is based in Liverpool, UK and features members of WipeOut developer Sony Liverpool, which closed its doors in 2012. Alongside The Persistence, which launched as a timed exclusive for PSVR, the team worked on The Playroom VR too.
Sony Buys Persistence Dev
Neither Sony nor Firesprite confirmed what their next project will be, nor made any mention of working in VR specifically. That said, in February of this year we reported that Firesprite was hiring for a VR game based on one of the “successful multimillion selling console IP titles in the last 10 years.” The game will be a “whole new chapter” in a “highly original universe” and utilize “the full immersive capabilities in VR”.
Job listings for that game, described as an action-adventure, are still live on Firesprite’s website. At the time, we speculated that the project could be tied to Sony given the team’s close links to PlayStation. The company has several other projects in the works, though it’s not clear if these are VR-supported or not.
The headline also breaks as we await more information about the confirmed PS5 VR headset. We know it’s not releasing this year and that we won’t see it at Thursday’s big PlayStation Showcase, but we are expecting to hear much more in 2022. UploadVR was the first to reveal specs for the device earlier this year.
The announcement came with a new trailer, specifically framed towards the PSVR version of the game, embedded below.
Originally scheduled for release in 2020 and then earlier this year, it finally looks like you’ll be able to play the first game in this new adventure series that puts a focus on environmental conversation and music theory.
As previously announced, five percent of proceeds from the game will go the environmental non-profit organisation Wildlife Warriors Worldwide, which was established by the late Steve Irwin and preserves his legacy today.
You will play as Allegra, a young girl who is trying to heal the forest of Ionia and save mythical beings called the Harpa. You’ll do this by solving music-based puzzles with her brother, Allegro. Here’s a new description from the developers, posted alongside the release date:
Save the Harpa, an endangered mythical being, by solving puzzles rooted in music theory. Hands-on interactions between VR controllers draw the sounds of sharp drum beats, soft bell tones, and other eclectic echoes from the flora and fauna of IONIA. Climb trees and zipline across ravines strewn throughout gorgeous environments. Saving the Ionian forest will require exploring this world and learning its rhythms.
Rhythm of the Universe: Ionia releases September 23 simultaneously on the Oculus Store for Quest and Rift, the PlayStation store for PSVR on PS4 and PS5, and Steam with support for Valve Index, HTC Vive and Vive Pro, Oculus Rift S and HP Reverb G2.
Looking for some Summer fun in VR? If you’ve got a PlayStation VR headset then you’re in luck. Sony is hosting a huge sale with more than 200 games discounted, including 50% off of some of its best exclusive titles through September 8th.
PSVR might not have the biggest library of VR games, but there’s no arguing that it has many of the best VR games out there, including excellent first and second-party exclusives you won’t find anywhere else.
As far as our top recommendations from the above, Astro Bot Rescue Mission (our review) is one of only two games we’ve ever given a 10 out of 10 review score and it also earned our PSVR Game of the Year award in 2018. Similarly, Blood & Truth (our review) got our PSVR Game of the Year award in 2019, and Iron Man VR (our review) got it in 2020.
You’ve got until September 8th to snag these deals. Are you planning to buy any PSVR games during the sale? Which would you recommend beyond the list above to fellow players? Let us know in the comments below!
The deal includes some of the usual picks, with sales on Gorn, Astro Bot, Blood & Truth, The Walking Dead and plenty of other headset highlights from the past five years.
If you’re asking us, it’s time to give Iron Man VR a look at $19.99, and the excellent survival horror game, The Persistence, is a steal at $10.19. We weren’t keen on this year’s port of Doom 3 to PSVR, but many others were so it might satisfy you at $9.99.
Oh, and we can’t pass up another mention of the excellent Ghost Giant for $9.99. That’s over half off for one of the platform’s best narrative-driven titles. If you need to cross-check any other potential purchases, make sure to check our list of the 25 best PSVR games.
With most of PSVR’s biggest titles for 2021 — including Doom 3, Fracked and Arashi — now out, it’s a good time to dive into the headset’s catalog to unearth any gems you might’ve missed. We are still looking forward to the launch of Wanderer later this year and, of course, there’s much more to learn about PS5 VR in 2022 but, with things now winding down for the headset, you should take this chance.
Are you going to pick anything up in the PSVR sale? Let us know in the comments below!
A new report claims that the now-closed Sony Manchester studio was working on a PSVR-exclusive game in which players would pilot a helicopter.
The UK-based developer was first established in 2015 and was constantly hiring, with job listings outlining a studio exclusively focused on making AAA PSVR titles. But, in February 2020, Sony announced it was closing the studio before it had even revealed the game it was working on. At the time, Sony said the decision was made “as part of our efforts to improve efficiency and operational effectiveness.”
In a new report, Polygon spoke to former members of the team under conditions of anonymity. Those sources revealed that Sony Manchester was working on a helicopter action title named CSAR: Combat, Search, and Rescue. It was being called Rescue for short. The game was reportedly first envisioned at Evolution Studios, the Driveclub and Motorstorm developer Sony was also set to close before Codemasters took the team on in 2016.
CSAR would have players sitting in the cockpit of a helicopter and fighting enemies whilst saving others. You’d take off from an aircraft carrier and have the help of a co-pilot.
But, while the idea seemed solid for a VR game, Polygon’s report outlines a project that would suddenly change directions based on decisions from management, which included Eric Matthews, vice president of Sony Worldwide Studios and Mark Green, who headed up Sony research, both based in London. According to the report the pair’s hands-on approach, combined with remote work (they made weekly visits to the studio), frustrated the game’s progress and staff morale.
“New enemy types would take months — and we’re talking blocky tanks,” one source reportedly said. “It was all just a pre-production concept. It was just a graybox for years.”
Other sections of the report point to issues like working out of rented workspace with other businesses and a decision to bring the design team to London, effectively splitting the studio in two. When Sony shook up its executive leadership in 2019, putting Herman Hulst in charge, the company started to pay more attention to what Sony Manchester was making. With little progress to show after five years, Sony made the choice to close the studio early in the following year.
And so Sony Manchester went the way of many UK-based, PlayStation-owned developers that had worked on PSVR titles. Guerrilla Cambridge shut after the launch of RIGS: Mechanized Combat League in 2016, Evolution left Sony before Driveclub VR was even released, and Wipeout developer Sony Liverpool saw its work refashioned for VR in the optional Omega Collection support a long time after it shut its doors. Blood & Truth developer Sony London is still open, though it’s unclear if its next project will be for Sony’s upcoming PS5 VR headset or something else.