Virtual reality continues to have a content problem. Just last week, Insomniac Games, the studio behind the Ratchet & Clank and Resistance series, released its new virtual reality brawler Feral Rites for Oculus for $49.99. Complaints about the price from players and critics were swift and severe.
By Friday, mere days after launch, Insomniac publicly announced it was slashing the price to just $29.99. But until Monday, at least, the real price for this brand-new game in a new medium from a respected studio is actually just $9.99 as Insomniac included it in the Oculus fall sale. In a display of goodwill, the studio's even giving players who bought Feral Rites at full price six of its other virtual reality games for free.
Reddit cheered the new price. Feral Rites commands the banners on the Oculus Store. And amid the celebrations, I find myself wondering how many people caught the pitiful way Insomniac cushioned the reason for the original price in the announcement: "The game’s original price was largely based on all the work that went into it."
As Road to VR noted in its review of Feral Rites, completing it only takes around 10 hours. UploadVR branded much of the game as "generic" and criticized the combat system: "Insomniac games are known for engaging fights, but bouts in Feral Ritesroutinely devolve into “X, X, X, Y,” roll, block, “X, X, X, Y.”
And there are so many games like this. Back in July we reported that the Steam store was already crammed with around 189 games that charged you around $20 for virtual reality experiences you could finish within two minutes or in a "couple of hours," all while picking up motion sickness along the way. Some of the better games, such as The Gallery: Call of the Starseed, cost $30 for a mere two hours. In the words of a Steam reviewer, Call of the Starseed ends up looking like "an elaborate tech demo."
Price as a whole continues to pose problems for the widespread adoption of virtual reality. Forget about the games for a moment—the Oculus Rift itself costs $599, to say nothing of the cost associated with owning a PC that can run the thing. The HTC Vive, its main competitor, costs $799. Toss some games on the pile priced at $30 or more, and you're looking at numbers that could make heavy dents in some folks' student loan payments.
This isn't the first time something like this has happened. Just two weeks after the launch of the HTC Vive headset, Owlchemy Labs permanently slashed the price of its acclaimed Job Simulator from $40 to $30. Even that wasn't what many players were hoping for. One of the highest rated Steam reviews at the time claimed that "if it were $5, even $10, I could see myself recommending it as an 'intro to VR' type experience." Another user named PickleKing23 commented on the review that it's "a 40$ game that requires 800$ equipment WHAT FUN."
What should concern VR enthusiasts is that even when users put all that money down and buy one of the highest profile VR games from a well-known, respected game developer, players don't feel like it's worth the price of admission.