EVE Online creator CCP Games announced today that it will cease the development of future VR titles and restructuring specific studio locations around the world.
The company made the official announcement via press release, revealing that its offices in both Atlanta, GA in the U.S., and Newcastle in the UK, will be closed down and sold as CCP Games pivots to a focus on both PC and mobile titles. Newcastle was the prior home of the team's EVE: Valkyrie development team, whereas the Atlanta office housed staff devoted to virtual reality research.
CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson stated that future PC and mobile gaming initiatives will be centralized to offices in Reykjavík, Shanghai, and London. The Shanghai office will be downsizing and refocusing on supporting business in China through “local partnerships.”
The developer’s most popular effort by far, MMO EVE Online, will not be affected, nor will the current VR titles currently on the market. As far as the other projects CCP Games has in development at this time, such as the PC first-person shooter Project Nova and mobile title Project Aurora, will move forward as planned as well.
“We will continue to support our VR games,” Pétursson stressed, “but will not be making material VR investments until we see market conditions that justify further investments beyond what we have already made.”
It’s clear that virtual reality hasn’t received the returns the company thought it would initially, demonstrated by the lack of players still spending time with EVE: Valkyrie. Although the multiplayer dogfighting shooter received fair scores when it made its debut in 2016 for PC, it hasn’t made much of a dent recently, attracting only 13 players in the last 24 hours on Steam. Players were mainly concentrated in the Warzone version of the game, which does not require users to play with a VR headset.
A free update in September made available the option to play sans VR, and the game’s price was also lowered from $39.99 to $29.99 at that time. According to SteamCharts, EVE: Valkyrie has continued to hemorrhage players over the last 30 days, which certainly isn’t a good sign for any title.
As it stands, however, the future of EVE: Valkyrie will rest in the hands of a new studio after the sale of CCP’s Newcastle studio. The current development team will continue working on the upcoming Winter Update for the game, which means custom matches, spectator mode, and tournament tools are still set to arrive before the end of 2017. So while CCP Games may be shelving future plans for virtual reality-based titles, at the very least it will continue to support the creation it took a chance on in the first place, despite its dwindling player count.
As far as the employees affected by the moves to restructure, CCP Games will be offering some relocation for selected employees as well as job placement assistance and severance packages.
Eve: Valkyrie was designed as a seated game, so it might not directly benefit much from wireless headsets.
From the sound of user reviews, it just wasn't a particularly great game. I see lots of reviews mentioning major issues with the user interface and controls, repetitive gameplay and other problems. The developers appear to have been addressing some of these things, but a lot of the reports I'm seeing are things that probably should have been fixed before the game's launch.
Of course, the slow uptake of PC VR probably hasn't helped, and there would have likely been a more established market for VR games like this if the Rift and Vive had each launched for a couple hundred dollars less. The initial pricing of the Rift was higher than most people expected, the release came a year or so later than expected, and slow production created a lengthy delay to actually get the headsets, all of which dulled a lot of the initial hype. The pricing might be better now, but I think many people may still be hesitant to drop several hundred dollars or more on one of the current headsets, when the next generation of consumer hardware is on the horizon, potentially with things like higher resolution, eye tracking, and wireless connectivity.
I don't think that's an entirely accurate metric to judge the player base by. For one thing, I imagine you are looking at the most concurrent players, and naturally not everyone is going to play at the same time, so there were undoubtedly more players than that on Steam in the last 24 hours, just not all at once. I believe the game also features cross-platform play between the PS4, Steam and the Oculus store as well, so the actual player numbers are probably a fair amount healthier than that. I'm sure they haven't lived up to the developer's expectations though.
Then there was the problem with most content not being available until you paid more for it. DLCs on PC games are wrong.
To get into PC VR also costs a ton. Not only you ideally want a video card that cost $600 or more, the rest of the system has to be top notch too. Don't forget the $500+ headset you have to buy!
If they thought EVE Valkyrie was going to do it they had to nail it. Be as good as the trailers told you. Being able to convince people that would otherwise not spend $2000 on a computer + headset requires some near perfect execution and amazing ideas. Such things happen once in a decade.
As of yet, when someone asks me about VR and what I would recommend for a game to play, there's really nothing to point at that would WOW the person.
Eve: Valkyrie, would be at the bottom of the barrel I would recommend someone just getting into VR. Unless I wanted to bore them and turn them off completely from VR.
These are seated experiences with a cockpit so actually there is little motion sickness or issue. The cockpits make a huge difference. I spent only an hour here and mostly flew in Elite: Dangerous because pvp didn't interest me and I am bad at videogames, but it's relatively minor in either. I heard some people had issues near big ships but docking in elite was just enough to feel a bit like a slow rollercoaster to me - fun but not too upsetting - at its worst..
I am not strongly affected, admittedly. I found that, for example, in minecraft all I had to do was click to tv mode when it bothered me and after an hour of switching I could use smooth movement non-stop (snap turning though). (Minecraft's click for TV mode is an amazing innovation more games should do - it lets you virtually take off the headset to rest but keep playing).