Oculus and Facebook aren’t the only ones funding VR developers. Santa Monica-based First Contact Entertainment has this week raised $5 million to work on AAA VR Games.
First Contact was formed this past summer by members of several recognized developers like Starbreeze, Blizzard, Treyarch and Infinity Ward. Co-Founder and President, Hess Barber, tells me over email that the team wants to create “more expansive VR play that mixes real gaming and narrative content” with replayability.
“We are seeing a ton of money being pumped into some really cool content that people only play once or twice, and we think that’s a huge missed opportunity,” Barber says. “We’ve learned a lot about this quickly growing medium, especially in the last few years, and that experience plays a big role in the direction we take.”
For its first game, the studio is making a FPS set 60 years into the future. It features futuristic weapons, and mechanics that will let you bend the laws of physics. Barber isn’t prepared to reveal more right now, though the project will be releasing by the end of this year.
“I can say that we have taken proven mechanics and added some new ones to create a very unique and enjoyable gameplay combo, and feedback from playtests has been extremely positive so far,” the developer teases. “We can’t wait to put in in the hands of players on a broader scale to see if they enjoy it as much as we do.”
While the game might not necessarily feature online multiplayer (though it’s not been explicitly ruled out), Barber does suggest that anyone that’s in the room when someone is playing will be able to join in in some way. The developer says that it’s “very important to include other people in the room when people are playing VR for a real-world group social experience. I can’t say more at this time, but this is something we will play to with all of our games. VR should not only be a solo experience.”
You might be able to tell from those words, but First Contact will be focusing on high-end headsets like the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR. “We feel positionally tracked VR hardware is key for the most immersive VR gaming experiences, and that the prime audience for VR is interested in high-quality VR games” Barber explains. “We are really proud of the success of VR games from companies like Survios and Cloudhead Games [both have made $1 million from their VR games] — that kind of commitment to quality and retention helps the industry as a whole.”
The company is also looking into location-based experiences, describing them as “very exciting”.
I also ask Barber if First Contact is interested in helping to solve key issues facing the VR industry, like locomotion. He says that the team “believes” in room-scale technology, but will also be trying to do its bit to push locomotion forward.
“We have learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t in VR, and are able to create, test, and iterate extremely quickly,” Barber explains. “We have discovered that there is a lot more that can be done with player movement than what is available today. For instance, there are ways to move the player beyond real-world space without them feeling sick, and we’ll be implementing those techniques into our new experiences and games in the future.
It certainly sounds like First Contact is a developer to look out for going forward. With 2016’s days running out, we’ll be sure to see their first title soon.