Teased during the pre-show for Sony’s main E3 presentation alongside Superhot VR, Sparc is now confirmed to be launching exclusively on PSVR ‘first’ in Q3 2017. The sports game was originally expected to arrive this year on multiple VR platforms.
Developers CCP Games, famous for the persistent MMORPG Eve Online, have been at the forefront of VR development for several years, creating the successful VR spin-off titles Eve: Valkyrie and Gunjack. Sparc is the company’s first non-Eve universe title, being presented as an entirely separate, VR sports game.
Once known as Project Arena, the game is the result of early experimentation with VR motion control from CCP’s Atlanta studio. The prototype was already in very impressive shape during my hands-on at Eve Fanfest 2016; its particular style of energetic action combined with spectator features struck me as a great candidate for a true VR sports game.
When the project reemerged as Sparc, it had embraced the sports angle in its design aesthetic, with more tangible ball projectiles rather than discs, and the robotic avatars had received an athletic makeover. Now that the game is nearing launch, CCP is pushing this angle further, coining the term ‘vSport’, and claiming to be the ‘first-of-its-kind, full-body virtual sport’.
The spectator feature has been retained, which acts as a free-form social area to queue up for the next match, and to watch the action ‘courtside’. According to the E3 press release, the game will include “multiple two-player game modes as well as a selection of single-player challenges and training modes, plus a wide range of visually striking customization and personalization options for competitors.”
At our hands-on at GDC 2017, and at this year’s Eve Fanfest, the game was still being discussed as a multi-platform title, due to launch on Vive, Rift and PSVR in 2017, so there must have been a recent decision to introduce a period of timed exclusivity for PSVR. It’s unclear how long this exclusivity will last, but it sounds like PC VR gamers will have to wait until 2018 to play Sparc.
“With Sparc, we’ve set out to deliver an original sport for the current generation of VR hardware,” said Morgan Godat, executive producer at CCP Games’ Atlanta studio. “We want to create plasma-clad sporting champions in living rooms via the virtual court, where challengers will meet and compete with other players from around the world.”