Although mobile and premium VR headsets tend to exist in their own separate worlds, Pico Interactive is looking to bridge the two with a standalone, tetherless device called the Pico Goblin. The portable VR headset looks like a cross between the Samsung Gear VR and Google’s Daydream View, but it does not require a phone to be inserted into it.
Paul Viglienzone, vice president of business development at Pico Interactive, sat down with AListDaily and described the Pico Goblin as “an Android-based all-in-one VR headset. It’s fully self-contained with no wires needed, no need to plug into a PC, and no phone.”
The Goblin supports about three hours of continuous play and comes with a small Bluetooth remote control, similar to Daydream’s. It’s available for pre-order now for $249 and pre-purchases come with five free games.
The goal is to bring VR to everybody by offering an affordable device for users to pick up and enjoy. “We’re trying to make it as simple and as engaging as possible for users. Our goal is to expand the market and make VR accessible for everybody,” said Viglienzone.
Viglienzone also compared the Pico Goblin to mobile VR devices such as Google Cardboard and the Samsung Gear VR. “Google Cardboard and other products like it require a phone,” he said. “With us, you don’t need that. You can just grab it and go and it always works. You don’t have to worry about the battery running out on your phone, and you don’t have to worry about compatibility like you do with phone solutions [like Samsung Gear VR].”
Even though the Pico platform is Android-based, it doesn’t support Google Play or Daydream content directly. Developers will have to port content to the device. However, Viglienzone assured us that it will be very easy for developers to bring their content to the Pico platform, stating, “We expect a lot of ports to come over.”
However, users won’t be struggling for content, as Viglienzone said that the device is launching with over 50 games, with some being exclusive to the device. More are being brought over from other platforms such as Gear VR, Daydream and PlayStation VR.
“We have Defender, which is made by our own studio,” said Viglienzone, describing a VR combat game where players use a sword to fend off a horde of invading creatures. “Another title that I’m excited about is called Attack of the Bugs from Binary Bubbles, and I really love Starship Disco from Solus Games, which comes from PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift, and is a music shooter where you can load your own tracks. Our goal with the types of games we have is for them to be super fun to play. We want to make the headset accessible, so we want content that’s similar to that. The games should be fun, engaging and easy to play.”
Pico also has a unique approach for supporting non-gaming entertainment such as YouTube 360 or Facebook 360 videos.
“Our plan is to keep things simple for people, so we have our own tool that allows you to aggregate content,” said Viglienzone. “So, you can pull in YouTube videos and Facebook videos—pretty much anything that’s on the web—and build your own library and playlist. The idea behind that is that you don’t have to fill up your memory by downloading 20 different apps. You’ll be able to add the content to your library and stream it.”
The Pico Goblin has 16 GB of memory built in, and users can add a 128 GB microSD card to it.
To spread awareness, Pico hosted an event to debut the device in Beijing, and its first showing in the US was at E3 to kick off a summer launch. At E3, attendees could sit down and try the device out by playing games and demos.
“We’ve been pretty low-key,” said Viglienzone. “Our focus is in getting it to market, so we’ve been focusing on social media and press coverage. We’ll be doing more marketing as we get closer to delivering the product.”
Viglienzone believes that the next big challenge for mass VR adoption will be content, but reiterated how the Pico Goblin may go a long way toward convincing users to pick up VR.
“Our approach—and I think we’ve done it really well—is focusing on a couple different things,” said Viglienzone. “One is getting to an affordable price, because many of the other products are quite expensive, and we’ve been focusing on bring an affordable all-in-one experience. We’ve also focused on making it as simple as possible. A lot of the solutions out there are pretty complicated for people who aren’t tech-oriented, and we’ve tried to reduce all those hurdles. There’s no complexity in playing with the Goblin. Those two things make it very accessible for folks.”
However, Viglienzone also explained how there is a third factor that makes the Pico Goblin far more appealing than a device like Gear VR.
“The biggest thing is that you can share it with people,” he said. “A lot of people don’t like having their phone in a Gear VR and having it passed around. With ours, you can share it with your family and friend and still keep your phone in your pocket.”