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Starbreeze Studios Announces A Full-Scale VR Arcade For Los Angeles

by Joe Durbin • January 24th, 2016

Starbreeze Studios took the stage during the opening address of the VRLA Winter Expo to announce Project StarCade: a location-based VR arcade opening either this spring or summer in Los Angeles.

According to the press release:

Starbreeze AB… at VRLA Winter Expo announced its intention to establish a VR arcade venue in Los Angeles, named Project StarCade. Aiming to make premium VR experiences accessible for the masses, Starbreeze will create a StarVR powered arcade hall, where VR enthusiasts and novices alike are welcome to experience the exciting technology in an immersive setting.

StarVR is an original VR headset that the Payday 2 game studio revealed alongside their acquisition of InfinitEye at E3 2015. The major hook of the headset is its enormous field-of view, far beyond Rift and Vive. A prototype of the headset has demoed fairly regularly since E3 2015 alongside its marquee Walking Dead experience.

StarBreeze CTO Emmanuel Marquez revealed in an interview with UploadVR that both the StarVR headset and the Walking Dead experience will make up the initial cornerstone of content for Project StarCade.

“There will only be StarVR headsets,” Marquez said. “We will be starting with The Walking Dead, but we will be steadily adding more experiences as time goes on.”

Marquez said a new prototype StarVR headset is in the works that would fix many of the problems people have discovered during demos of the current one.

Starbreeze may be remaining exclusive on the hardware they will use, but their plan for the arcade experiences themselves is to be far more open.

“We want people to be able to experience something they cannot get at home…We will be pleased to welcome any experience,” said Marquez.

Marquez views the LA location as a sort of pilot program where questions such as what the company will charge and what experiences are best can be answered before expanding the project to more locations.

“We will open the first one in L.A., and obviously we would like to extend that as much as possible,” Marquez said.

The immediate comparison that may spring to mind is The Void. The Void is a large-scale, location-based VR installation that seems to align very similarly with Project StarCade’s announced direction. Marquez says at StarCade he intends to let the customer choose from a list of experiences to play.

“They can go and really play any content they like. They can choose from a list what kind of experience they would like to have in VR,” Marquez said.

These are lofty goals but earlier this week the studio announced a $40 million strategic investment from Crossfire developer Smilegate. The investment will create a strategic partnership between the two companies that will allow for Starbreeze to develop their own Crossover title and to use Smilegate’s release platform for an Asian expansion of their existing properties.

Starbreeze Studios is a public company that is supported by a revenue stream from their ongoing game development initiatives. The investment is meant to help the company achieve their larger ambitions. About 160 people work for the company and between 30 and 60 are contributing to the VR efforts. Starbreeze is also hiring.

“Starbreeze is at the beginning,” he said. “We have a lot of things to provide and a lot of expectations.”