HTC Announces ‘Vive Studios’ to Publish “Deeper, Richer and Longer” Room-Scale VR Games

by Joe Durbin • December 8th, 2016

Today, HTC is announcing the launch of its newest subsidiary: Vive Studios. This brand new content publisher will work to facilitate and release new, high-quality content for the titular HTC Vive virtual reality headset. The company has appointed its VP of Content, Joel Breton, as head of this new operation. Vive Studios is launching its first game today as well: Arcade Saga.

According to HTC, “Vive Studios will bring to market VR content created by HTC’s internal studios as well as through publishing partnerships with external developers.”

This model is much more similar to a traditional console or video game publisher. The company clarified the exact nature of the Vive Studios process by stating that:

“Vive Studios will use a publishing model similar to console games, where the label will produce first-party content through internal developers, such as 2 Bears, as well as partner with external developers. For external developers, Vive Studios is now a partner they can turn to for development funding as well as publishing and marketing support on VR content. Vive Studios is actively creating content across key categories for VR including games, education, cinematic, design, social, real-estate and sports, as well as tools and applications that can revolutionize areas such as media, retail, healthcare and location-based entertainment centers and arcades.”

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UploadVR had the chance to speak with Breton at the Vive X offices in San Francisco, California. Breton confirmed that the goal of Vive Studios is to partner with “both internal and external studios” in order to create “great showcases for room-scale VR.” Breton explained that, like any other publisher, Vive Studios will recieve a portion of the revenue generated by each of its partner games.

The closest faximale to Vive Studios in the VR world is the long-running Oculus Studios, which was founded and led into significance by Naughty Dog co-founder Jason Rubin. The Oculus Studios philosophy for games has been to invest millions of dollars in grants to developers in order to stimulate the early days of VR with titles that would not otherwise have been able to exist. When asked if Vive Studios would be operating on a similar financial scope or overall mindset Breton’s response was direct:

“I  don’t want to put any restrictions on numbers when it comes to the amounts we’re going to offer these studios. It will be a very flexible model. This is a response to the opportunity we feel currently exists around VR. The VR ecosystem needs support and we want to come in and throw our muscle around where it can do the most good.”

The 3D, VR platformer "Lucky's Tale" was one of the first Oculus Studios titles.

The 3D platformer “Lucky’s Tale” was one of the first Oculus Studios titles.

Games and experiences produced by Oculus Studios are also notable in that they only work on Oculus Hardware. When asked if Vive Studios games would also work on Oculus hardware Breton responded by saying, “We aren’t announcing support for the other platforms today. Each piece of content will be released where it makes the most sense.”

Breton did explain that there will be no direct “blocks” built into Vive Studios games keeping them tethered to the Vive and that, “we believe content should be open and go wherever consumers want to access it…we don’t feel that they [Oculus] need to lose for us to win.”

As far as the type of content Vive Studios is producing, Breton revealed that the focus will be on more than just games. Areas like education, architecture and virtual commerce will be explored as well. All of the experiences, however, according to Breton, will be released on either Steam or Viveport.

arcadesaga_boss_2_1920 It’s no secret that the Vive has been accused of housing too many shallow pieces of content, blithely referred to by the VR community as “tech demos” and Breton explained that Vive Studios is meant, at least in part, to address this problem.

“As far as games are concerned we feel like the Vive already has a good amount of smaller, snackable-sized experiences,” Breton said. “Through Vive studios we want to create games that are deeper, richer and longer.”

When it comes to rollout, Breton stated that users can enjoy Vive Studios’ first game, Arcade Saga, today with “more coming in the next several weeks” and “dozens being released next year.”

Arcade Saga itself is a collection of three smaller games that each provide a futuristic spin on classic arcade games like Pong and Breakout. The title was developed by Vive Studios first partner developer known as Two Bears. The game was fun, fast and, of course, highly focused on hand controllers and room-scale capabilities.

Arcade Saga is available now on Steam. We will be bringing a full hands on review in the coming days.

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  • Daniel Hügelmann

    According to its Steam listing, the game supports Vive as well as Oculus headsets. If Vive Studios is taking a platform agnostic approach then I hope that Oculus will learn and follow suit!

    • Get Schwifty!

      Considering the logo above which shows Steam and HTC in a loving embrace are you surprised they feel they have to offer exclusives to plant a flag in the world? I wouldn’t expect them to go down that path anytime soon when the primary software delivery system is so tight with their main competitor…

  • David Wallin

    BTW, it’s facsimile not faximale 😉

    • jwvanderbeck

      God yes. That jumped out at me as well.

    • Bohutinsky Gábor

      faxi-male. That is some golden comedy.

    • flavortang

      *fax-email

    • Nicholas

      I looked at that as well and started seriously doubting my own (correct) spelling!

  • wheeler

    Should have happened a long time ago but still great. As long as the games work with all VR peripherals I’ll support it.

    • Nicholas

      I’m pretty sure it’s at the developer’s discretion, but at least HTC aren’t actively preventing or restricting them…unlike a certain other company.

  • Channonbom

    Of course Vive has been championing an open eco system between Vive and Oculus, because Vive know’s their library sucks. But kudos to HTC for finally putting their money where it matters… content.

  • OkinKun

    Great news! 😀 Now lets just keep poking Oculus, until they add Vive support on Home! That would finally bring the VR industry together.

  • Maxx Zimonick

    Wow, after almost a year you are finally going to work on games that are more than just tech demos. Glad I chose the Rift. By the time they release full fledged games we will be on the 2nd iteration of our headsets.

    • DoubleD

      Why are you acting like the Vive is unable to play Oculus games?
      I’ve had loads of fun on my Vive with games like BlazeRush.

  • Yore VR

    This is awesome news!

  • Paulo

    Great idea! Another copycat move by HTC while parroting themselves as the “good guys”. They know that this is a touchy subject in the VR community and it comes at a good time.

    Oculus studios has been working at it for years now. While this is indeed great news for everybody, its going to take a while to see anything worthwhile coming out of this. Years. Vive owners want content now.

    I really hope this new standards group fixes a bunch of issues with exclusivity in the future. What I want to see is even if you own a Vive, you can play games on Home, but not have the SDK owned by any individual party. This new API should communicate with all headsets, and Oculus/Valve will add their own features on top. Resulting in no exclusivity, but a better experience for their customers which is what they’re going for.

  • flavortang

    This is incredible news. However, I hope Vive studios focuses less on VR content that is classified as “games” and more on narrative-heavy, experiential content. VR deserves better than just being another vehicle for shooting video games.

    • polysix

      fuck no. VR needs gameplay first, gimmicks last. just cos most VR games right now are boring as fuck/simple shooters doesn’t mean we should abandon real interaction (the TRUE purpose of VR) and chase yet more tired old ‘wannabe hollywood’ crap that is responsible for already making the standard gaming market dull as fuckery of late.

      Virtual Reality is as it says on the tin – visceral, interactive, alternative reality. If I’m gonna sit there ‘staring at shit’ then I’ll just go to the cinema instead and see a real movie.

      • flavortang

        Ugh. Go play COD. Stay away from VR.

    • Nicholas

      VR unfortunately needs the games to drive the market viability. It’s the same with GPUs. Sure, you could use them for more practical and useful applications, but who we’re trying to kid: the only reason they get incrementally better is because of gaming.

      • flavortang

        “VR unfortunately needs the games to drive the market viability.” VR only needs gaming as a marketing tool since the development software to create virtual worlds has been engineered for video games. However, VR’s potential far outpaces the limiting design tropes and use cases for gaming. VR’s potential user market is vastly larger than the gaming market’s.

    • Bartoman

      There is a HUGE gap of possibilities between between “narative-heavy, experiential content” and “shooting stuff”. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to accuse you of tunnel vision.

      • flavortang

        I reject your criticism. The problem is that gamers have already leapt onto VR, just blindly assuming it’s an industry that exists exclusively to serve them and that any content that isn’t a “game” is wrong. There was already some !diot I had to correct earlier who was bashing narrative-heavy games as being wrong for the gaming industry and therefore wrong for VR, too.

        VR is in its earliest stages and what have we seen thus far? How much content would fall into the category that we’d describe as a “video game” and specifically how many are wave shooters?

        I’m a gamer myself. I’ve been a gamer for over 30 years. VR is a novel new industry with its own form of visual interaction and for the first time, a natural, motion-based control scheme that suits the medium and all single-minded gamers want with this amazing new technology is… the same old [email protected] they’ve been experiencing for decades. That would be a grim fate for a technology with such amazing potential.

        If all you want for VR is “more games!!11!!”… just stick with your consoles. VR deserves better.

    • Doctor Bambi

      “As far as the type of content Vive Studios is producing, Breton revealed
      that the focus will be on more than just games. Areas like education,
      architecture and virtual commerce will be explored as well.” It’s literally stated in the article.

      There’s a plethora of other uses already available. Google Earth VR, Titans of Space, Oculus Medium and Quill, Tiltbrush, Within’s documentaries and videos, Gnomes and Goblins on Vive, Oculus Video, NextVR with sports and concerts, Youtube has 360 content coming in all the time, not to mention the porn industry’s rendition. With the emergence of WebVR, VR commerce will have a platform. And that’s just the stuff I can think of off the top of my head.

      Feel free to voice your concerns and opinions, but I would suggest you stop attacking people’s hobbies in the comment section. You come off a petty and belittling.

    • Lucas Armand

      Jesus Christ man. Why are you so aggressive towards other peoples feelings. The only really narrative thing I have experienced inside the Vive was Accounting, which I loved, but mostly because I felt like I was inside a Rick and Morty Episode. While I understand your feelings towards branching out towards other types of media in VR, you need to keep an idea of the people that actually own VR headsets right now. It’s gamers. Developing deep stories or narratives might not be what these gamers want. Gamers clearly want gameplay, pushing the limits of VR and discovering the most interesting game mechanics. I do agree that just “Shooting Stuff” is boring, but these are the first developments of VR. If you think about the first video games, they were all simplistic arcade games, which is exactly what we are seeing in VR. Once the developers get used to the idea of making VR games, I’m sure you will see all kinds of content for VR, but games are what we are getting right now.

      • flavortang

        Because people don’t know what they want and it’s frustrating to watch. You show them this incredible new technology and they want to use it to do the exact same thing they’ve been doing for decades with a pre-existing technology.

        Imagine if, when the motion picture camera was first invented, all the people who were fans of stage plays at the time(pretty much everyone because that’s pretty much the only entertainment that existed) said “Hey, we can watch recorded stage plays with this new motion picture camera!” And then someone else said “Hmm, I don’t know. I think we can do far more with this than just watch plays. I mean, we can take this camera anywhere. We can move it close or far from the actors; we can change angles; we can pause time and start the story somewhere else. There’s so much we can do–” and then that person gets shouted down by everyone else “NO, LET’S JUST WATCH STAGE PLAYS WITH THIS!!!11!!” and then the art of cinema would’ve never been invented because the new industry would’ve pandered exclusively to a group of narrow-minded consumers.

        This is what I’m seeing with VR. Ironically enough, the people who knock VR for being just a gimmick want to use it as a gimmick on which to play video games on! lol

        I get it. RIGHT NOW most of the people who own VR headsets probably bleed over into the gamer category. I know because I AM A GAMER. I’ve been a gamer for 30 years. I love gaming. But I don’t need VR in order to play more chore simulators and carrot-on-a-stick simulators. I can play those on a TV.

        Now, I’m not saying you can’t have video games in VR. You absolutely can and there should be tons of them. I’m just saying that too many gamers think VR was created ONLY for them and ONLY for video games, and for a very specific type of video game: usually shooters. They also despise anything that doesn’t fit within their narrow definition of what even should be a video game so they’re actively pushing for VR to cater to a relatively small subset of the global consumer market.

        These people don’t want to even entertain the possibility of GAMES or game genres they don’t like being made for VR, like the dreaded walking simulators, which in my opinion are far better suited for VR than games like Doom(which I absolutely loved) or Destiny.

        They want to use analog sticks to move rather than entertain the possibility of more natural, motion-control-based modes of movement. My end point is this: gamers just want more of what they already know and when you have a new technology and new industry with such promise it would be a [email protected] shame to have VR be relegated to some gimmick for narrow-minded gamers. It has the potential to be the greatest interactive digial medium ever created IF gamers will just back the f#ck off and let it grow into the beautiful art form it can be.

        • Gerry Burde

          Have you ever seen the first TV shows?

          They stuck a stage in front of a camera….

          • flavortang

            YES! Exactly. Same with movies. The first “movie” directors in the late 19th century were stage directors and put everything into the frame. No close-ups, no medium shots, nothing. The camera was stationary and the acting had to suit the framing of the shots so everyone had to overexaggerate. It wasn’t until new directors came in with no stage experience that they started to experiment with moving the camera around and then actors acclimated to this with more natural acting.

            I think this is what will happen with VR; the first content developers are deeply entrenched in the gaming world so every decision they make is influenced by this. New people excited about VR but with no game development experience will make new and novel experiences that won’t be classified as “games”. That is what I’m excited for.

  • pigeont

    Will they have more girth too?

  • Content is the kind and they know it

  • taparat

    “As far as games are concerned we feel like the Vive already has a good amount of smaller, snackable-sized experiences”, Breton said, and immediately announced Arcade Saga, a game that “is a collection of three smaller games that each provide a futuristic spin on classic arcade games like Pong and Breakout.”

    …I mean, the jokes just write themselves.