According to Road to VR, “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.” They added that the “Alpha Testers” will only be experiencing the “20 minute VR marketing demo” and that the promotion” is not a game or an MMO, or anything that has legs beyond being a promotional vehicle.” These 208 “Alpha Testers” will also only be ” 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.”
They also pointed out the intermingling of fictional and non-fictional elements in the announcement, and said that if you were a native Japanese speaker, you might be able to distinguish if it was a legitimate project or a PR stunt. IBM mentioned that “a certain Dr. Akihiko Kayaba has met with an IBM Researcher who, through Watson, has made the ‘Alpha’ possible.” Of course, Dr. Kayaba is the main villain of the Aincrad arc, and the creator behind Sword Art Online and Nervgear, and this intermingling of fictional and non-fictional elements in the announcement alone could make one wonder if IBM was seriously making VRMMOs real.
What’s more is that Road to VR has spoken to Shun Kubota, Editor in Chief of Mogura VR, the leading virtual reality publication in Japan, who has confirmed that “Project VRMMO” is only a marketing stunt by IBM and Sword Art Online. Kubota 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.” This means that this is just a marketing promotion to show off IBM’s technological advances in the world of virtual reality, and what better way to show them off that Sword Art Online, right?
Now that’s some sad news indeed, but hopefully, this can lead to even bigger things in the future.