Sparc is a virtual sport, or vSport – a unique physical sport only possible in virtual reality, in which players compete in full-body VR gameplay and connect in an online community.
-What is Sparc, from the Sparc FAQ
CCP launched their latest title today, a VR game called Sparc.
The press release from CCP says that it is available for the PlayStation 4 with PlayStation VR from the PlayStation Store for $29.99. There is also a launch trailer.
There is a mention of a version for PC in the FAQ, but no firm date as yet.
The game itself has been compared to Wii Sports, the extremely popular game that was bundled with the Wii in many countries. Wii Sports was an excellent demonstration of the potential of the Wii motion controllers, a potential that the controllers never really achieved. Wii Sports was a selling point for the Wii.
That is a pretty high bar for Sparc, which is not bundled with anything and requires potential players to have invested in the PlayStation VR hardware. Add in the fact that you cannot play locally against another player, having to connect to opponents over the internet, thus any match requires two PlayStation 4s and two PlayStation VR sets.
Still, a simple, fun, and not-too-expensive VR sports game might do well within the VR niche, even if it isn’t the killer app that Wii Sports was for the Wii.
The game has been controversial with a few EVE Online players since it was announced back in February of this year.
There is, of course, the usual outrage at EVE Online funding other games. For all of the recurring “EVE is dying!” sentiment, it still pays the bills for CCP. However, any business funds new projects from the profits of current projects. That is just the way things work. EVE Online itself was funded, in part, by profits from the board game Hættuspil. What goes around comes around. The problem is that, being an MMORPG, EVE Online never feels “done,” so taking money from a game that clearly still needs work (and will forever need work) does not sit well.
And then there is the fact that Sparc, unlike Valkyrie, Gunjack, or the late DUST 514, does not glorify the universe of New Eden. A VR spaceship game might at least bring some attention to our internet spaceship game. A cartoony virtual sports game doesn’t even do that.
My own view is a bit mixed. I’ve worked on projects that basically paid all the bills in the past, and have been irked by resources being siphoned off to build new things. And as an EVE Online player I always want CCP to pay more attention to the game. But I also know that in business not expanding is often equated with dying, and the days of growth for EVE Online seem to be in the past. The game has too much baggage and is far too niche to expect to reach new heights now.
So the best hope for EVE Online going forward is a healthy and prosperous CCP, and we get that by CCP doing well with other products, or so it seems to me. We shall see.
Anyway, I have neither a PlayStation 4 nor any VR hardware, so Sparc clearly isn’t for me. But if it does do well I suspect we will hear about it from CCP.