End of the Line for First Contact Entertainment
First Contact Entertainment, the gaming studio known for its prominent tactical team shooter series ‘Firewall', is closing its doors. The company cites the industry's inadequate support for virtual reality (VR) as the primary reason for its shutdown.
Rise and Fall of a VR Pioneer
Established in 2016, First Contact made a name for itself with two standout titles for the PlayStation VR (PSVR) platform: ‘Firewall Zero Hour' in 2018 and its sequel ‘Firewall Ultra' in 2023, which debuted on PSVR 2. Despite the initial success and innovation, the studio has struggled to sustain its operations financially.
Studio’s Farewell Statement
In a heartfelt Facebook post, the studio expressed gratitude towards its team, investors, partners, and dedicated player community. The post detailed the challenges of being a AAA VR game developer and the tough decision to cease operations due to unsustainable costs and limited industry support for VR.
‘Firewall’ Series: A Mixed VR Legacy
‘Firewall Zero Hour' was celebrated as a benchmark ‘AAA' team shooter for PSVR, earning critical acclaim. However, its sequel ‘Firewall Ultra' received a lukewarm reception, with critics pointing out flaws in the game's controls and variety. Despite these efforts, the widespread adoption of PSVR 2 remains uncertain, contributing to the studio's downfall.
Other Ventures and the VR Market Outlook
Beyond the ‘Firewall' franchise, First Contact also developed ‘Solaris Offworld Combat', a cross-play multiplayer shooter connecting Quest, PSVR, and PC VR users. While the game has achieved moderate success, the broader VR market's dynamics, with platforms like Quest outshining PSVR 2, have put additional strain on studios like First Contact. Sony's silence on upcoming PSVR 2 titles adds to the uncertainty, signaling a potentially troubling trend for VR game developers.
Implications for the VR Industry
The closure of First Contact Entertainment raises questions about the VR industry's health and the future of VR gaming. As one of the most dedicated and well-funded studios exits, it underscores the challenges facing VR developers in a market still finding its footing.
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