Resolution Games CEO On Marketing VR Games

Today, virtual reality (VR) games studio Resolution Games announced it has closed a $6 million Series A funding round, which to date marks the single largest investment round for any VR games developer. Google Ventures led the round, which marks GV’s first investment in a Swedish company since the firm’s expansion into Europe.

“We’re focused on VR for the long run with nimble, small teams creating lots of new concepts, establishing best practices and quickly landing on successful titles to add content for emerging VR devices. To date we’ve already created seven prototype games, released our first title and are working on our next release, which will be a fishing themed VR game to be released in early 2016,” said Tommy Palm, co-founder and CEO of Resolution Games. “The funds will also give us the ability to ensure our longevity. As we learned with the mobile games market, perseverance is critical for building a successful company in an emerging market. Resolution Games will be around for years to come and will be able to focus on making the correct strategic choices to help the VR Games market grow into its potential.”

Resolution Games’ CEO and co-founder Tommy Palm spoke with [a]listdaily about some of the marketing challenges ahead for VR games. You can read more about what Palm had to say regarding VR game design over on GamesIndustry International.

Implicit in the idea of bringing casual games to VR is that VR can eventually be a large, broad audience. What will it take for VR to reach a really large audience?

We’re seeing several different initiatives on the hardware side. Two different categories are the mobile VR and the connected VR. From my point of view, purely performance-wise, a modern-day smartphone is really a fantastic gaming device even for something as demanding as VR. If you look at the graphical quality we are able to get out of Solitaire Jester for Gear VR, nobody who looks at that environment would say that is sub-par when it comes to graphical standards. I am seeing mobile VR as being one very exciting way forward, where the investment is much smaller from a consumer point of view. When you have under $200 headsets, you are able to have a very immersive 3D VR experience with your regular smartphone.

How do you see monetization working for VR games Will this just be an extension of mobile games, or will it be premium, or something else?

Initially we’re going to see a lot of premium payment models, especially since the in-app purchase APIs are not ready for most of these platforms. I personally think that micro-transactions are a better system for games, when as a consumer you can download a game for free before making a purchase decision. There are so many games out there, and it’s really hard to tell if this is something you’re ready to spend money on. Going forward we’ll see a lot of games being free-to-download before you have to pay. I don’t want to use the term free-to-play because it brings the mindset of a lot of the games we see in the mobile space, and it doesn’t necessarily have to look like that. One of great thing with micro-transactions as a developer is you can choose for yourself what makes sense for your games. There are a lot of good examples and a lot of bad examples.

Solitaire Jester

How do you plan to market the VR games you are creating?

One important ingredient in this early stage is having a great working relationship with the manufacturers. That is a similar approach to how I worked with mobile games, I started out very early working with the companies that were doing a lot of research and development in the mobile games market early on, which later proved very useful as the market took off. That is one part of it, but from the indie game developer’s perspective today with so much competition going on, it definitely makes sense to take a professional grip on marketing in the early phase of your development cycle for the design of the products.

Social media and streaming have been very important recently in marketing PC, console and mobile games. Will this be true for VR games — can you stream a VR game and make it fun to watch and to share, even if you don’t have the VR hardware?

This is something we noticed very quickly just with our Solitaire Jester game, it’s actually very difficult to share this experience to people who don’t have access to headsets, and very few people do at this point. Other people are working on making it easier to share or stream gameplay videos from VR game experiences, however it is going to be hard because of the nature of VR. You can’t really follow another player because you can get very nauseous trying to see whatever they saw or move wherever they moved. It’s definitely some very new, interesting challenges. A lot of smart people are going to have to figure out how to do this the best way.

The hardware for VR really won’t be arriving in quantity for consumers until early 2016. When do you think VR is finally going to be making money for game developers Will it be summer 2016, holiday 2016, or beyond?

Very good question. We still haven’t seen consumer products out in the market, but we are getting close. The first initiative with Samsung Gear VR is launching before Christmas this year. We’ll see a lot of other manufacturers following that. From a game developer perspective, before we have a large enough audience it’s going to take a little bit of time. That’s one of the reasons why we wanted a fairly big investment, to have the longevity to get into the market early and learn, while at the same time being there when VR takes off and we can focus all our resources on creating great content, which is entirely needed.

Mobile Games Highlights: August 26

Welcome back to Mobile Games Highlights for the week of August 26. There are plenty of great mobile games this week, so let’s get started!

Lara Croft GO (Square Enix, $4.99, releasing tomorrow for iOS and Android)

After the success of Square Enix’s board game-style strategy game Hitman GO, {link no longer active} the publisher has opted to repeat its success, but this time with its iconic Tomb Raider hero. In Lara Croft GO, players will work their way through a number of stages, solving puzzles and battling with various monsters in order to get to the next stage. Featuring turn-based strategy (similar to Hitman) and sharp visuals that match the decor of previous Tomb Raider games, it should be a big hit when it arrives later this week — and a fine tie-in for Rise of the Tomb Raider when it debuts on Xbox One on November 10th.

Pac-Man 256 (Bandai Namco, free-to-play, available for iOS and Android {links no longer active})

Following the success of its hit game Crossy Road, the developers at Hipster Whale have chosen to tackle an old-school favorite — Bandai Namco’s Pac-Man. In the endless runner Pac-Man 256, players will need to navigate a maze, collecting fruit and eating ghosts with power pellets (in the classic Pac-Man tradition) while avoiding an upcoming “glitch wave” that could easily wipe him out. With in-game transactions that are more than fair (mainly for power-ups and lives when players run out) and a retro vibe that players of all ages can enjoy, Pac-Man 256 is sure to eat up plenty of attention.

Final Fantasy VII (Square Enix, $15.99, available for iOS {link no longer active}, coming soon for Android)

Final Fantasy VII is easily one of the best classic role-playing games from the PlayStation era, so it should be no surprise that Square Enix has brought it to mobile devices, almost completely intact. Although the touch-screen controls take some getting used to, the visual design and story for the game remain timeless, with plenty of exciting battles for fans of the series to engage in. The game is a bit on the expensive side, but to some people — namely those that grew up with the series — it’ll certainly be worth it.

Horizon Chase: World Tour (Aquiris Game Studio, $2.99, available for iOS {link no longer active})

Fans of older racing games like the Cruis’n series or Sega’s Outrun will find something to like in Horizon Chase: World Tour, the latest offering from Aquiris Game Studio). Featuring bright, colorful visuals, a variety of tracks to choose from, and quick-to-adapt-to gameplay where speed is everything, the game offers a lot of fun. In addition, car customization is available at no additional charge, and a variety of vehicles and locales can be unlocked as well. Rev that engine, because Horizon Chase is ready to take players on a ride.

 

Tales From the Borderlands Episode Four (Telltale Games, $4.99, available for iOS and Android {links no longer active})

Over the past few months, Telltale Games has been telling an interesting story with Tales From the Borderlands, a spin-off of Gearbox Software’s successful shooter series. With episode four, Escape Plan Bravo, things pick up greatly for the two characters, Rhys and Fiona, as they experience new dangers. The key component with this game is the storytelling, as it’s quite refreshing — and in some ways, hilarious — based on the choice of the player. Fans won’t want to miss it, and for those that are new to the series, a full season pack of all five episodes can be purchased for $14.99.

Target, YouTube Feel The ‘Star Wars’ Marketing Force

With Disney’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens set to hit theaters on December 18, millions of fans of the popular science fiction series can’t wait to see what’s next. In the past, we’ve talked about marketing partners on board for the film, including Subway and Duracell, but this week, it will go light speed with two new promotions.

First up, previously reported by Mashable, Target has just launched a new promotion in conjunction with Lucasfilm that will help Star Wars fans share their fandom while they wait for new products to be revealed. Titled “Share the Force,” the program enables them to share memories of their beloved sci-fi franchise, which are then stored in large 3D virtual environments “galaxies”, if you will based on characters from the films, including Darth Vader and Boba Fett. Other fans will then be able to explore them however they please. The video below shows just how these interactive universes will work.

 

Stars are getting involved as well, including Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick, who shared a photo he got with creator George Lucas in 2012, and Saturday Night Live star Bobby Moynihan, playing with Star Wars figurines.

“We’re excited to not only be creating the first collection of fan memories, but also to be giving (fans) the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for their memories to become a permanent part of the Star Wars legacy,” said Rick Gomez, senior vice president of marketing for Target.

There’s no doubt that this campaign will play a big part in Star Wars mania in the weeks ahead, and that Target will be one of many retailers benefitting from the new toys and other Force Awakens-licensed goods coming to shelves. This Friday, YouTube will be hosting a global live toy unboxing event that will span over 18 hours, showing fans the range of merchandise that will be available this holiday season. Digital stars from the Maker Studios will be on hand for the reveal.

Star Wars toys have always played an important role in how our fans interact with the saga,” said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “They’ve inspired multiple generations to relive the experience of the movies and to create new adventures all their own. These spectacular Star Wars: The Force Awakens products will continue that tradition.”

Click here to learn more about the global reveal event on the official Star Wars page. It’s going to be a busy day.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuts in theaters December 18th.