Last week, news broke that IBM is making the world of VRMMOs, as featured in Sword Art Online, a reality with their “VRMMO Project.” However, according to tech website, Road to VR, that really isn’t so, and everything was really just a big misunderstanding.


According to the Road to VR,

“I can understand why people got it wrong. First of all we have the language barrier, which is a highly effective filter of nuance (which is very important to this story). Second, the entire notion of the Sword Art Online: The Beginning is a purposeful intermingling of the fictional universe of Sword Art Online and our real world. Without the context of the show itself and an understanding of virtual reality, it would be easy to misunderstand, even if you were a native Japanese speaker.

Sword Art Online: The Beginning is a 20 minute VR marketing demo. It is a neat marketing stunt for both IBM Watson and the Sword Art Online anime/manga/movie. It is not a game or an MMO, or anything that has legs beyond being a promotional vehicle.”

The website pointed out that IBM clearly wasn’t making VRMMOs a reality (for now anyway) as they mentioned that “a certain  Dr. Akihiko Kayaba has met with an IBM Researcher who, through Watson, has made the ‘Alpha’ possible.” That alone makes one wonder if IBM is really making VRMMOs real, or if they are just making one very elaborate publicity stunt, as this Dr. Akihiko Kayaba is the fictional creator of the Nervegear, which is the device used by players to enter the world of Sword Art Online.

Shun Kubota, Editor in Chief of Mogura VR, , the leading virtual reality publication in Japan, has confirmed that the “VRMMO Project” is only a marketing stunt, and has said that the promotion only aims to show “what it would be like when the cognitive computing IBM is developing is used in future gaming technology.” In other words, there is not really any real game in development, and it is all just a marketing experience to show off IBM’s new virtual reality technology, and they are promoting it with Sword Art Online.

As for the 208 “Alpha Testers,” they will only be experiencing a “20-minute marketing experience” that will have the players” scanned to have their avatars in the experience and there may be some multiplayer happening but it will be something like four players at a time.”

Apparently, when the news broke, many news reports were not able to see the clear intermingling of the fictional and non-fictional elements of the promotion.

Source: The Verge