Hype, bubbles and split minds
Image: Zero stress level.
Bonelab is the most hyped VR game of the year. And that says a lot about the state of the VR games industry.
For me, 2022 is one of the weakest years in VR gaming. This circumstance which was announced in the lean Spring Meta Quest Gaming Showcase.
Like every year, 2022 has one or two indie gems like Red Matter 2 (review), The Last Clockwinder (review) or Moss 2 (review) that helps you overcome the dry spell and makes you forget that the VR ecosystem is always small. But they don’t satisfy the craving for headlines.
The wave of hype is rolling
Bonelab is also an independent game, but exceptional. It is the successor to the experimental physics game Boneworks, which has a large following and a cult following within a PC VR gaming community. Given the current software drought and the gaming community’s expectations of Bonelab, it’s no surprise that Bonelab has generated so much hype ahead of time.
Bonelab is already breaking records on Quest 2. Look at these insane ratings. pic.twitter.com/0zEAbwJ5XG
– Nathie (@NathieVR) September 29, 2022
On Twitter, testers were cheering before the embargo ended that we were going to have something big, and an hour or two after the game was released, he checked in over a thousand reviews on the Oculus Store — from fans who hadn’t even had a chance to take a closer look at the game or download it first.
Bonelab: Hardcore for hardcore
Meanwhile, critical voices can also be heard in relevant Reddit forums, complaining about unpredictable physics or heavy gameplay that doesn’t live up to previous hype.
I expected that. Boneworks already polarized the gaming community. One group swore by great physics and freedom of interaction. Another turned away bored with the experimental gameplay – or had a stomach ache.
Speaking of motion sickness, Bonelab dispenses with optional locomotion methods such as teleportation or visual vignetting during smooth locomotion. Since the title was released differently from Boneworks for Meta Quest 2, it could reach millions of casual gamers without really taking it into account. A cliché that could turn against the studio and VR in general.
A passing fancy?
And what does the gaming press think of Bonelab? So far, not much. Despite massive hype and hype, the VR-only game barely gets any media attention outside of the VR bubble. Metacritic currently lists only one review.
This is also symptomatic of Status quo of the VR game industry. If something bigger happens, it takes a lot of air from the rest of the room. My MIXED colleague Jan will soon tell you if Bonelab is revolutionary or evolutionary, and how stomach-tolerant it is. By then, the waves of hype will have been smoothed out.
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