Virtuix has spent the past few years developing the Omni, a motion-based gaming platform that allows virtual reality users and gamers to run and walk through video game worlds. Now the startup is creating its own games designed for multiplayer eSports competition. Omni Arena is a first-person shooter that currently includes two maps and both single-player and two-player cooperative multiplayer. An April 2017 update will add a Defend the Hill mode, where up to four players can play in 1v1 and 2v2 competitions.
“Omni Arena was developed to combine the physical activity of the Omni with the thrill of eSports and the immersions of VR,” Jan Goetgeluk, founder and CEO of Virtuix, told [a]listdaily. “The game provides an adrenaline rush to the players and a visual spectacle to the audience. It’s well-suited for competitive gaming in VR arcades and gaming centers, and many of our location-based entertainment customers plan to organize Omni Arena tournaments and VR eSports leagues featuring the game. We plan to host a worldwide Omni Arena tournament later this year.”
What separates Omni Arena from current competitive gaming titles, according to Goetgeluk, is the physical nature of the Omni platform. “Omni is not only immersive but also physical, which makes it more exciting for spectators and for the players,” Goetgeluk said.
Goetgeluk has a strategy to grow virtual reality eSports through its partner in China, Hero Entertainment, which owns the Hero Pro League.
“Hero organizes major eSports events across the country featuring their mobile shooter, Crisis Action,” Goetgeluk said. “They introduced the Omni at their last event to more than 10 million viewers in Shanghai. They’ll start to create teams for the VR version of Crisis Action with Omni and schedule eSports events later this year.”
Crisis Action has over 400 million players across China and Goetgeluk said it’s the most popular mobile shooter in the country. That’s made Hero a multi-billion-dollar gaming giant in China.
“The first VR demonstration was a big hit so we know the public likes it,” Goetgeluk said. “Hero is seeing how they can build out a structure and start signing teams and pro players to make it a fixed part in Chinese eSports.”
Virtuix established an office in China with 50 employees to work with Hero, as well as the growing number of location-based VR entertainment centers and VR arcades that are being built or converted from internet gaming cafes across the country. “Location-based entertainment is massive in China,” Goetgeluk said. “It’s the main avenue for consumers to experience entertainment. People want to leave the house and be entertained. There are 140,000 internet cafes turned into VR arcades. There are half a million arcades or location-based entertainment facilities. It’s much bigger than in the US.”
While Goetgeluk believes Crisis Action would work in the US as well (it currently offers a Deathmatch mode for up to six players) he’s currently focusing on Omni Arena.
“Our biggest market in the US is location-based entertainment centers,” Goetgeluk said. “We’re working with operators who have VR arcades and entertainment centers. They want to organize leagues and competitions with our games. We’ll start with local gaming centers and organize local competitions and tournaments before we move to national competitions.”
Goetgeluk said Omni Arena’s new update will introduce team-based competitive gameplay perfect for local eSports in VR Arcades. The fact that gamers will also get a workout while playing is another selling point for this new type of competitive gaming.
“The VR arcade market is rapidly growing,” Goetgeluk said. “We get an email every day from someone opening a VR arcade somewhere who wants to use an Omni. They seem to be doing quite well in the US because we’re seeing some owners expand the number of VR arcades as well as new entrepreneurs opening them for the first time. There are also a lot of LAN Centers that are adding VR gaming.”
Omni Arena is one of the three games published by Virtuix Studios, which is also working on TRAVR: Training Ops and TRAVR: Shadow Ops. The Omni also works with third-party VR and non-VR games.
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