Cyberpunk 2077 Dev Not Worried About Half-Life: Alyx Game Because VR Is Very "Niche"
"Are we afraid? No. It is a very different niche."
The roster of big game releases for 2020 recently grew when Valve, out of nowhere, announced Half-Life: Alyx for launch in March 2020 as a virtual reality-exclusive title. Given that it's been so long since the release of a new Half-Life title, there will surely be pent-up demand that could scare other developers launching games close to it.
CD Projekt Red isn't scared about launching Cyberpunk 2077 in April 2020, however, because the two games are going for different markets. Half-Life: Alyx is designed for virtual reality while Cyberpunk 2077 is going after a bigger audience of players on console and PC.
Management for CD Projekt Red said on an earnings call recently that the company isn't shaking in its boots over Half-Life: Alyx because VR is an incredibly niche market.
"Of course we've seen the Half-Life VR announcement. I think it was a surprise for everybody … VR remains an extremely niche-y niche of the market," the company said. "It's very, very small."
The only reason why Valve would make Half-Life: Alyx exclusive to VR is because they want VR as an industry to grow. The hope is people will be so excited for a new Half-Life that they'll go buy a headset, according to CD Projekt Red.
"The only reason I can think of why Valve has decided to actually put this title on the market is because they actually have a cooperation on the hardware side of the things and I assume they are planning … this is probably a big effort for them to try to expand that niche," CD Projekt Red said. "That niche is very, very, very--and I could add a few verys here--small. So, from the market perspective, are we afraid? No. It is a very different niche."
Whereas Valve is trying to specifically improve VR hardware sales by making Half-Life: Alyx, at least according to CD Projekt Red, the Polish studio is trying to appeal to more people. VR as a business sector remains unproven and not profitable, according to CD Projekt Red.
"[Half-Life: Alyx] is an endeavor to try to push the hardware while we are really targeting the mass market where it is--which is major consoles and PCs without the need to have the VR gear," the company said. "I know there are a few titles here and there that usually showcase [VR] but I have not heard of anybody building an actual valid business on VR so far."
One day, VR might become a viable business, and CD Projekt Red acknowledged that Half-Life: Alyx could be the game to help drive interest in VR. Still, the company doesn't think it will happen soon--if it ever does--so it has no plans to adapt its games for VR right now.
"Perhaps Half-Life will become this first stone that is going to turn into something larger [for VR] as we go, but that's definitely not going to be the case come first half of the next year; I dare say it's probably not going to be next year," CD Projekt Red said. "I don't dare to venture any further because things may change. At some point VR may be a mass market entertainment that will validate the business model behind it but it is not the case, at least not for us, right now."
Half-Life: Alyx is a prequel to Half-Life 2 in which players control Alyx Vance. The game is reportedly a big undertaking for Valve, and among the developers contributing to the project are members of the Campo Santo team that Valve acquired in 2018. The voice actress for Alyx is Ozioma Akagha, who replaces Merle Dandridge from the earlier Half-Life games. New Zealand-based actor Rhys Darby (Jumanji, Flight of the Conchords) is joining the game as a new character.
Half-Life: Alyx is free on Valve Index for those who buy a headset before the end of 2019. The game is also playable on other PC VR headsets made by companies other than Valve.
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