At the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Sony unveiled a brand new project in the form of the Wonderbook, an augmented reality peripheral for the PlayStation 3.
It was an augmented reality book that would work in conjunction with both the PlayStation Move and PlayStation Eye peripherals.
Its launch title, Book of Spells, was released later that year for the holiday season. The game was developed by SCE London Studio in conjunction with J. K. Rowling as a companion to the Harry Potter series.
Later that summer at Gamescom, Sony announced a partnership with Disney to bring more famous brands to Wonderbook in the future.
However, the Wonderbook well seems to have run dry, but how come?
Here are some theories as to why the Wonderbook may have failed:
The rise of virtual reality
Some news outlets seemed to suggest that Sony’s answer to augmented reality came a little too late. Or that perhaps augmented reality was a fading fad. I disagree with the latter.
I believe the rise of virtual reality simply overshadowed augmented reality. Once Oculus Rift got picked up by Facebook, Sony had also begun working to build a direct competitor to the Oculus Rift, which took the form of Project Morpheus.
Now…virtual reality is IN. It’s the future of gaming, it seems.
Augmented reality has continued to spark people’s interest. Just look at Pokemon GO or the ever-changing Snapchat filters…but it’s not blowing away the minds of consumers like virtual reality.
It’s also where the money seems to be right now, and Sony just wanted to join the party.
The audience, the games and the price tag
I understand the Wonderbook was Sony’s way of not only breaking into the AR market, but to make a product that targeted the kids.
However, when you’ve got a game console that has games that cater to a wide range of demographics, and with a promotional platform like E3, which tends to showcase more mature titles, I can see how the Wonderbook may have slipped through the cracks.
Coupled with a hefty price tag and the fact that the Wonderbook just didn’t have enough titles to justify its price, the Wonderbook seemed like nothing more than a ‘good try.’
Wonderbook has unfortunately fallen into the realm of forgotten hardware, and while the peripheral has yet to be confirmed as discontinued, it doesn’t seem like Sony’s Wonderbook will be receiving any special attention now that Sony VR has taken flight.