A new job solicitation posted on the Electronic Arts website is advertising, “an exciting opportunity for a short term contract Quality Analyst position to work on a yet to be announced VR title.”
Qualified candidates, “will be responsible for identifying and reporting software defects, assisting with establishment of strong VR testing guidelines, writing and running test coverage and verifying fixes.”
There are a few interesting takeaways from this posting but let’s start with the most obvious one first: EA is developing a new virtual reality video game. This is major news for VR in general as the more “triple-A” development the industry gets, the better. We knew that EA was working on something special, so maybe this could be it.
Currently, EA only has created only one VR offering to speak of: a PS VR exclusive Star Wars cockpit shooter that places you inside of an X-Wing and sends you out on interstellar dogfights. As fun as that sounds, the experience is fairly basic when compared to other, similar VR titles currently available. If EA truly is throwing its considerable weight behind a legitimate VR game this time, it could make a major splash in a market that is constantly ravenous for more significant content.
As a publisher, EA works with a litany of game studios to create its titles. This particular posting is for Criterion Games – a British developer, owned outright by EA. What makes the Criterion connection particularly important, however, is the studio’s pedigree and recent history with VR.
Criterion is best known for its work on the Burnout series – one of the most celebrated racing game franchises of all-time. The possibility of a Criterion developed racing game is simply too tantalizing not to suggest, and it would make all of the sense in the world. Then recently, Criterion announced the cancellation of its much anticipated Oculus game that was in development, presumably freeing up resources and potentially resulting in leftover assets that could be used for this unannounced endeavor.
Racing titles are one of the most fun, desired, and easily assimilated gaming genres for VR. By their very nature they don’t really require you to stand, or move out of your seat. This means they don’t ask your brain to make too many leaps in logic and are therefore notoriously immersive and free of motion sickness.
EA would be smart to take advantage of the racing genres natural compatibility with VR while also leveraging the massive popularity of one of its in house studios most notable creations. A Burnout VR title would be a big moment for the industry, but time will tell if this is indeed the direction both companies are heading with this mystery game.
Also of note, is the recent formation of Frostbite Labs within EA, which is claimed to focus specifically on VR and other forms of future technology. Perhaps that means whatever Criterion is working on may leverage the research and technology of that experimental department.
We have reached out to EA for comment on this and will update you on the Criterion VR project when we know more.