CCP Games’ annual fan event, EVE Fanfest, is taking place in Reykjavik, Iceland this week. It’s the first Fanfest since the company announced that it was halting its work in VR, which means it’s the first chance we have to hear directly from CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson about the reasoning behind that decision,
Unsurprisingly, Pétursson cited VR’s low install base as the cause of its swift exit from the scene. He explained as much to PC Gamer, saying: “I’m a big believer in the future of VR still, nothing really changes that. It’s just going to take a longer time to get off the ground in terms of install base. We were always estimating the journey to be quite slow, but it’s just going to take longer than makes sense for us to continue for now.”
That conclusion meant that, last year, CCP closed down its Atlanta studio, developer of multiplayer VR eSport, Sparc, and sold its Newcastle studio, best known for its work on EVE: Valkyrie, to Sumo Digital. The studio continues to maintain these games so others can play them, but don’t expect any major updates for them in the near future.
“The install base is not at a level that a company our size, and the type of games that we want to make, can be done based solely on consumer revenue,” Pétursson added. “It can be done, but you have to be a [top-selling] game every time. It’s extremely risky right now to do any game of size and scale.”
We don’t yet know how sales of VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are going, though Sony’s PlayStation VR (PSVR) passed the two million mark late last year. As Pétursson noted, these kinds of figures might be acceptable for smaller indie developers, but it’s just not viable for a studio of CCP’s size.