Denny Unger, CEO of Pistol Whip developer Cloudhead Games, touched on the difficulties of funding large-scale VR games in a recent series of tweets.
On Monday Unger, who helped found Cloudhead nearly a decade ago, noted that he’d seen a lot of people asking where the next ‘big’ VR game was. More specifically, people have been asking where is the next Half-Life: Alyx-caliber game.
“It’s important to recognize that many studios like ours have “those games” sitting in limbo,” he wrote. “BIG ideas require BIG budgets & we’re maxing out what works to financially power up BIG ideas later.”
By “what works”, Unger is almost certainly referring to the success of Pistol Whip, Cloudhead’s third main VR game that launched in late 2019. The game’s one of a number of titles that’s performed well on the Oculus Quest platform among other headsets and is still supported with new DLC and updates to this day – we just showcased the new Style System at the Upload VR Showcase last week.
“Cloudhead Games is 29 people at industry standard rates (and growing), the bulk of those are producing Pistol Whip content, which some might consider a “small game” comparatively, Unger continued. “Now think about something like Alyx and the people power/budget required there.”
Last year, a member of Cloudhead wrote on Reddit that the studio would love to return to its original VR series, The Gallery, but it would need the market to be bigger before it could really justify the third entry.
Bigger game publishers, meanwhile, remain reluctant to fund large-scale VR titles while the install base remains comparatively small to traditional consoles. That’s why Facebook is making deals directly with companies like Ubisoft to get new versions of Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell into VR, rather than Ubisoft funding these titles on its own steam.
There are larger titles on the way to look forward to, though. Stress Level Zero’s next game is likely to be revealed this summer and may fit the tone Unger is touching upon after the success of Boneworks. Capcom is developing a VR port of Resident Evil 4 for Oculus Quest 2, too, and we’re yet to see what Sony is lining up for its next VR headset for the PS5.
What do you hope to see out of VR’s next big game? Let us know in the comments below!