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  • NextVR Held Significant Layoffs Today
    NextVR Held Significant Layoffs Today

    Live streaming VR company NextVR held significant layoffs on January 14, 2019.

    I spoke by phone with co-founder and CEO David Cole, who said “we were built big” for a VR market projected to be larger than what materialized in 2017 and 2018. Cole said the Newport Beach-based company did not file for a WARN notice on the workforce reduction, suggesting the size of the layoff did not meet the threshold for disclosure according to California law.

    Valuable NextVR Employees Laid Off

    Cole declined to say how many were let go. While “a number of valuable employees” were impacted, the “majority of the company is not affected,” he said.

    NextVR produces some of the highest resolution and visually detailed live captures we’ve seen of real world events. They’ve raised $115 million to date with a multi-year partnership with the NBA to live-stream games on a weekly basis to VR headsets. Cole said their live production schedule remains unaffected through the layoffs, with a broadcast tomorrow planned of the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Atlanta Hawks.

    “This is a really necessary measure to stay in a position to take advantage of the market at the size where it is now,” Cole said.

    A courtside seat with NextVR

    NextVR was originally founded in 2009 as Next3D, a 3D compression company. The company was early in transitioning to VR, though, as a wave of companies raised huge amounts of money in the wake of Facebook’s $3 billion acquisition of Oculus in 2014.

    The layoffs come after a series of companies like Jaunt, ODG and Meta suffered through 2018 from inflated expectations meeting the reality of the early market for VR and AR headsets. While other struggling companies have planned patent sales, pivoted to other businesses or suspended hardware sales, according to Cole, NextVR is continuing its course at its reduced size.

    “The all in one did what we thought it would do,” Cole said. “Audience size is building very helpfully right now on the back of a number of things.”

    Tagged with: nextVR

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  • Oculus To Demo High Budget Rift Exclusives ‘Stormland’ & ‘Defector’ At PAX South
    Oculus To Demo High Budget Rift Exclusives ‘Stormland’ & ‘Defector’ At PAX South

    Facebook announced that it will host demos of its upcoming high budget Oculus Rift exclusives Stormland and Defector at PAX South 2019.

    PAX is a collection of gaming festivals held each year since 2004. PAX South is held in San Antonio, Texas. This year it will take place on January 18th-20th. Oculus has had a presence at at least one PAX event per year since 2013.

    Both titles are funded by Oculus Studios- Facebook’s VR content division.

    Stormland

    Stormland is an open world co-op adventure from Insomniac Games.

    The game features a vast open world that is part procedural and part hand crafted. It also features mechanics like crafting and climbing. The graphics look incredible- this may be the best looking made for VR open world title yet.

    When we tried it at PAX West last year we were blown away, concluding that it could be something truly special.

    Insomniac’s previous VR titles were 3rd person Lovecraftian adventure Edge of Nowhere . Outside VR they developed hit titles like Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet & Clank, and the Resistance series. More recently they developed Marvel’s Spider-Man.

    Defector

    Defector is an action packed spy game from Twisted Pixel Games that turns you into Jason Bourne (or James Bond, if you prefer). Originally slated for 2018, the game was delayed to some time this year.

    We’ve tried this game a few times now- most recently at Oculus Connect 5. Each time we tried it we had a blast. This game probably won’t make you think, but its endless over the top action sequences are downright fun.

    Twisted Pixel previously developed Wilson’s Heart , an incredible VR black & white mystery thriller reminiscent of The Twilight Zone.

    What Of Oculus Quest?

    Neither game is slated to release on the upcoming Oculus Quest standalone headset. At Oculus Connect 5, Twisted Pixel were listed as working on a Quest title or port however, so it’s possible Defector will see a port. Insomniac was not listed.

    It seems unlikely that either game will come to the Quest however as we got the impression that each pushes the boundaries of even PC VR. Standalone systems are significantly less powerful than a PC.

    Tagged with: Defector, oculus rift, PAX, pax south, Stormland

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  • Strengthening Your Muscle Memory With VR Hockey Training

    Sense Arena’s portable VR Hockey Training kit was a big hit at CES 2019. A couple of months ago I was fortunate enough to the VR Sports and Entertainment Summit in San Francisco, where I had the opportunity to try out the virtual Hockey training kit from Sense Arena. Having experienced the inuitive VR training

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  • Check Out More Footage of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown’s PlayStation VR Mode There are only a few more days to go until launch.
  • CES 2019: Antilatency Turns Oculus Go Into 6DOF Multiuser VR
    CES 2019: Antilatency Turns Oculus Go Into 6DOF Multiuser VR

    I’ve tried Antilatency a number of times and the startup’s CES 2019 demo was the best yet.

    The demo was like a smaller scale version of the impressive multi-user Oculus Quest “arena” setup we enjoyed so much at Oculus Connect 5. At CES, Antilatency employed Oculus Go and a small add-on to track the headset as well as gloves, a tablet and a controller. Antilatency’s tracking system uses infrared lights in the floor with the headset add-on featuring a super wide angle module to see the lights.

    For comparison, a much larger tracked space is below in the video of the Quest arena from OC5. Lines on most surfaces in the arena made the environment more visible to Quest’s sensors.

    Antilatency Alt Tracker

    Antilatency is selling a kit for around $250 to track a headset up to around 5×5 meters. The integration of foam flooring with the lights is custom. Antilatency might be a lower-cost alternative to Optitrack, Vicon or SteamVR Tracking for location-based VR installations. Antilatency representatives said they are working with around 10 pilot projects. One project tracks five people with two hands each over hundreds of square meters, according to the company.

    Antilatency “tag” to bring objects into a virtual world.

    This solution could be particularly well-suited to an installation like Alien: Descent by Pure Imagination and Fox. In that experince, Gear VRs and quality floor haptics provide the sense Aliens are attacking you and a friend. The creators used OptiTrack sensors with Gear VR. The visual fidelity and easy setup of an Oculus Go combined with Antilatency tracking might make for a compelling alternative.

    Antilatency claims its hardware adds only 2 milliseconds of latency while taking 2,000 position measurements per second. I tried it at CES with two players and a single hand controller per player, along with a tablet tracked as well. Everything seemed extremely accurate and, yes, low latency. I can’t say how it would perform in a real world scenario though. Added latency might only be perceptible in a complex virtual world with voice chat, more players or other additions not in the CES demo.

    Occlusion

    The interlocking foam design of the flooring shown at CES felt solid underfoot for steady walking throughout the tracked space.

    “Alt” tracker can come with different cords to connect to different kinds of headsets.

    The ultra wide field of view “Alt” sensor sees the lights built into the flooring and plugs into the USB port on Oculus Go. The interlocking foam design of the flooring shown at CES felt solid underfoot for steady walking throughout the tracked space.

    The company says the system can come with different connectors for different VR headsets. Even with the lights momentarily blocked from view, the hardware appeared to track accurately. This is important in crowded multi-user setups where players can block the view of the lights in more ways. Again, though, this was a highly controlled demo with an empty virtual world. We’ll be curious to see if any of the pilot projects using Antilatency are confident enough in the quality

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  • Self-Driving Car Features Batman-Themed Immersive Entertainment

    Take an autonomous ride through a crime-ridden Gotham City during your everyday commute. If – as seems increasingly likely – we’re moving towards a future that will include autonomous vehicles, what exactly will drivers be doing with all their newfound spare time while on the road? That’s certainly a question that entertainment providers such as

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  • Hands-on: Cartoon Magic With Ralph Breaks VR A perfect accompaniment to Ralph Breaks the Internet.
  • Job Simulator & Beat Saber Top PlayStation VR’s 2018 Sales in US and EU There wasn't too much difference between the two top tens.
  • 7 Unannounced PSVR Ports We’re Still Waiting On In 2019
    7 Unannounced PSVR Ports We’re Still Waiting On In 2019

    With over three million headsets sold, Sony’s PSVR is thought to be the most successful major VR headset on the market today. Despite this, many developers prefer to bring their VR games to Oculus Rift and HTC Vive first. It’s easy to see why; Rift and Vive’s more advanced tracking and the processing power of a PC allow them to develop for the top and then scale down.

    But the urgency to get games onto PSVR is increasing. Over the past few years we’ve seen ports of PC VR staples like Arizona Sunshine, Beat Saber, Superhot VR and more. Despite this, there are a few key PC VR games we’re still hoping will come to PSVR. Here’s six unannounced PSVR ports we’re still waiting on in 2019.

    Gorn (Read Our Impressions)

    This is probably the most glaring entry on the list. Gorn may still be in Early Access on PC but the game is such a hit that we’re surprised it’s not come to PSVR yet. It’s an over-the-top gladiator battler with insane levels of violence. You can tears heads off, slice off arms or crush skulls with a wide variety of weapons. It’s ridiculously good fun and could fill a bloody hole in PSVR’s content library.

    Onward (Read Our Impressions)

    Another incredibly popular PC VR game that should have been on PSVR by now. Onward offers military simulation-level VR shooting with friends. Again, it’s been in Early Access for years, but consistent updates have made it one of the most robust and playable games in VR. Developer Downpour Interactive is a small studio and we don’t doubt it’s got its hands full with new updates. But the team should seriously consider getting one of VR’s most popular shooters onto one of VR’s most popular platforms.

    Serious Sam VR/The Talos Principle VR (Read Our Review)

    We’ll cheat a little here. Croteam remains one of VR’s most committed developers thanks to the expertly-crafted ports of its most beloved games. With the entire Serious Sam series now available to play in VR and all of The Talos Principle supporting headsets, it’s way past time we got these games on PSVR. All of them offer full games worth of content that we’d gladly lose hours in all over again. The team’s busy with Serious Sam 4, but we’ve got our fingers crossed they’re also porting these on the side.

    The Gallery (Read Our Review)

    Cloudhead Games’ remarkable adventure series has been PC-exclusive for far too long. This is one of VR’s most fantastical experiences, full of wonder that PSVR players are being deprived off right now. The pacing and mechanics are well within the headset’s reach, though we suspect Cloudhead is more concerned with getting its third episode finished at this point. With luck, we’ll see a full PSVR port of the first three installments once the third episode is out. Who knows when that will arrive, though.

    L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files (Read Our Review)

    Rockstar Games did an amazing job of porting one of its most divisive games to VR in

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  • Zero-Gravity Shooter Space Junkies Could Be Coming To PSVR
    Space Junkies vr shooter zero-gravity

    It looks like a Space Junkies PSVR version could indeed happen.

    As spotted by Ostrog the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) website recently listed Ubisoft’s upcoming zero-gravity shooter. That hopefully means that the long-awaited PC VR version is nearly here. But, more importantly, the listing says the game is coming to PC and PS4. Unless it’s some kind of a mistake, that makes it obvious the game is PSVR-bound. We’ve reached out to Ubisoft to confirm the news.

    Space Junkies was first announced back in 2017. It’s a multiplayer shooter similar to Echo Combat. You float through space, bouncing off of walls and ceilings, trying to gun your opponent down. Unlike Echo Combat, though, Space Junkies has an Unreal Tournament vibe that we’re big fans of. Developer Ubisoft Montpellier spent much of last year polishing the gamer with closed-beta testing. Then, in late 2018 the developer confirmed that the game would now be launching later this year.

    “This new release timeframe will ensure we deliver on our promise of being the best VR FPS set in micro gravity, and we hope you can hang in there a bit longer!” the developer wrote at the time.

    If the game is indeed coming to PSVR we’ll be interested to see how the port shapes up. This is a game that makes full use of 360-degree tracking and requires players to have quick reactions. Hopefully Ubisoft can translate all of that to the headset’s more limited tracking and controllers.

    Hopefully we won’t have too much longer to wait until we’re finally playing the full version of Space Junkies. When we last played it we said it was shaping up to be one of VR’s best competitive shooters.

    Tagged with: PSVR, Space Junkies, VR FPS, zero gravity

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  • Indie Studio Critical Charm Unveils Debut Title A Giant Problem The title will be arriving on Steam Early Access in Q1 2019.
  • CES 2019: Hands-On With Pico’s G2 4K Enterprise Standalone VR Headset
    4K VR headset G2 Pico

    At CES 2019 we got the chance to go hands-on with the Pico G2 4K, a standalone VR headset targeted at the Enterprise market.

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  • Beat Saber And Job Simulator Were PSVR’s Most Downloaded Games In 2018
    Beat Saber And Job Simulator Were PSVR’s Most Downloaded Games In 2018

    Sony has released its annual list of the most downloaded games on its PSVR headset. The winners won’t surprise you.

    Two lists were published last week. One is for the US and the other is for the EU. For the former, Owlchemy Lab’s Job Simulator came out on top (again) with Beat Games’ mega-popular Beat Saber coming in second. In the EU, it was Beat Saber in first and Job Simulator close behind. Sony never reveals the actual sales data behind these downloads, though.

    For Job Simulator, it’s three years in a row at the top. The game was a launch title for PSVR back in 2016 and is generally considered to be something of a poster child for VR. Beat Saber, meanwhile, first launched on PC in early 2018. It soon became one of the most popular VR games around, making the PSVR port highly anticipated. It finally arrived in mid-November. That the game managed to reach the top of the charts in both territories in such a small amount of time is nothing short of amazing.

    That said, it is true that Beat Saber was only available digitally. Most other games in both lists like Superhot VR, Moss and Rick and Morty, all had physical versions too. That might explain why some of the year’s best PSVR games like Astro Bot and Firewall didn’t make it into either list’s top 5. Astro Bot hit sixth in the Europe and Firewall came in 17th.

    Still, it’s a new year and we’ll be excited to see what new challengers await us. Sony’s Blood and Truth could be a big hit if it nails the VR first-person shooter (FPS). That said, there’s little that feels like it could truly rival the top games in these lists just yet.

    Tagged with: Beat Saber, job simulator, PSVR Games, VR sales

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  • It Looks Like A PSVR Train Simulator Is Finally On The Way (Sort Of)
    It Looks Like A PSVR Train Simulator Is Finally On The Way (Sort Of)

    You know what PSVR doesn’t have enough of? Simulation games. Not the silly type that star goats, I mean actual simulators. It’s a surprisingly untapped market for such a dedicated audience. That said, it looks like the first PSVR train simulator is indeed on the way. Sort of.

    Gematsu recently spotted an Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) listing for A-Train Express. It’s a train simulator that released in Japan in late 2017. And, yes, it has PSVR support. The ESRB listing suggests it’s on its way to the US.

    In the game, you build your own railways and develop cities around them. There’s a driving mode that gives you a first-person view of the action, though the game’s mainly concerned with making everything run on time. Check out the trailer below.

    Sadly, though, it doesn’t look like you’ll be able to actually drive trains in VR. PSVR support includes a ‘VR Railroad Model Mode’. This apparently just lets you view certain cityscapes as VR dioramas. That’s a bit of a disappointment. We wouldn’t hold out hope for any significant additions to the game since the Japanese release, either.

    Still, it’s the closest thing PSVR fans have to a proper simulation right now. We don’t know when A-Train Express will be officially announced for PS4 but keep an eye out for it. Over on the PC VR side, promising train simulator Derail Valley will be arriving later this week. That looks like a more thorough entry into the genre that we’ll hopefully see on PSVR too at some point.

    Tagged with: A-Train Express, PSVR, train simulator

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  • Realmax Qian Is A Light, Fully Wireless AR/VR Headset With A 100-degree FOV
    Realmax Qian Is A Light, Fully Wireless AR/VR Headset With A 100-degree FOV

    Realmax has officially taken its AR/VR ambitions from dream to reality, having evolved its Qian headset from an intriguing prototype at the 2018 CES to actual production hardware at the 2019 CES. And unlike so many of the devices shown each year at CES, Qian actually contains some compelling differentiators: It’s lightweight, tetherless, and offers a very wide-angle video display by augmented reality headset standards.

    Co-developed by a former Microsoft executive and a Chinese company with manufacturing expertise, Qian uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 system on chip and stereoscopic 1080p displays to deliver a dramatically more powerful AR experience than Microsoft’s HoloLens — a proprietary 16:9 visual system that was bright, vividly colored, and detailed in our hands-on testing at CES.

    Though the headset isn’t as fancy-looking as Magic Leap One, it features a much wider 100.8-degree field of view, filling enough of your eye space to feel immersive, and is compatible with prescription glasses rather than requiring special lenses. Realmax also says Qian can be shifted from AR to VR modes, a potentially compelling feature we didn’t get to try out.

    The screens are paired with binocular 6DoF tracking and a 9-axis IMU sensor so that wearers can actually move around in a 3D space and see virtual objects that appear to be real — or as real as the Snapdragon 835 can make them. A demo showed off a fairly convincing 3D model of a car that could be inspected up close from any angle, and multiple headsets on the same wireless network can let users interact with one another using virtual objects within an actual physical space.

    Above: RealMax Qian AR glasses being used in a large, multi-wearer environment.

    Image Credit: Jeremy Horwitz/VentureBeat

    One missing element in the core hardware is hand tracking, but there’s a USB port on the headset’s front that can connect easily to a Leap Motion gesture sensor. Otherwise, a basic controller similar to the one used for Oculus Go or Google Daydream lets users interact with virtual content. All of the apps are stored within the headset, so there’s no need for a Magic Leap-style puck or a nearby computer.

    Another key to Qian’s appeal is its pricing. Realmax says that it will be priced just under $1,000, which combined with its impressive AR performance should make it a popular alternative to HoloLens — a comparatively limited device sold for three to five times the price. Beyond industrial settings, Realmax hopes to see Qian used in education, medicine, and retail applications.

    According to the company, Qian has just finished its first pilot production run, and the company will soon be producing as many units as possible to meet anticipated demand. It won’t have the next-generation AR market to itself, though: Rivals such as Nreal and DigiLens have also shown new AR glasses at CES, and Microsoft is expected to reveal HoloLens 2 in the not-too-distant future.

    This post by Jeremy Horwitz originally appeared on VentureBeat. 

    Tagged with: Qian, Realmax

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