VR isn’t really the next big thing. A lot of media outlets will tell you that it is, but there’s never been and likely won’t be for quite some time, a VR blockbuster hit. Any VR title that manages to move over 100,000 units is looked at as a success these days, mostly due to the low install base, slow adoption rates, and poor overall sales for most VR software. It’s a high-end enthusiast niche, and it’s likely going to stay that way for quite some time. Viacom’s financial department finally seems to have realized that there’s no profits in VR at the moment, and as part of a cost-cutting measure they decided to pull the plug on their Viacom Next studio, which focused on experimental AR and VR software.
Variety is reporting that Viacom Next had employed 15 people in its group, and some of them have been let go while others have been shuffled into separate divisions. Viacom reportedly laid off more than 100 works across a number of divisions, which included Viacom Next.
Part of the statement that Viacom sent out read…
“We remain deeply committed to developing immersive experiences for consumers through groundbreaking augmented and virtual reality. As part of our efforts to coordinate Viacom’s approach to next-generation platforms and solutions across our brands, we are absorbing Viacom NEXT into our Global Emerging Opportunities Group. A number of Viacom NEXT’s creators and engineers will join this group, however a small number of employee positions have been affected”
Keep in mind that Viacom trying to damage control their investments in the AR/VR field is no different than Electronic Arts telling investors that Mass Effect is still a top priority for them even while they put the entire franchise on ice following the poor sales of Mass Effect: Andromeda.
Viacom Next didn’t really do much other than make a few small projects, such as Transformers: Cade’s Junkyard.
There’s more people who care about Fishing: Barrents Sea within the last hour than there are total views on that YouTube video, which sort of gives you an idea of just how much people don’t care about AR/VR projects like the one above.
Expect the new media trend to silent report on VR studio closures while trying to play up the narrative that VR is still alive and healthy, despite hardware sales being low, adoption rates being low, and software not selling very well at all.