Experienced VR development studio Schell Games is making a big bet that multiplayer VR is having its moment.
While Meta laid off more than 11,000 workers this week and naysayers are more than ready to pounce at the opportunity to call VR dead once again, Schell Games studio head Jesse Schell is about to find out if VR crossed a critical threshold he’s been talking about for years.
Schell Games is one of the most experienced VR developers in the world with Schell himself having worked on VR attractions for Disney going back decades. In recent years, his studio was behind a series of high-quality and well-liked VR games including a pair of James Bond-inspired I Expect You To Die games and sword-fighter Until You Fall. Those were single-player, though, with Schell noting publicly that VR needed to cross a threshold of 10 million+ players for people to start finding friends with a VR headset.
As of this year, Meta reportedly sold somewhere north of 15 million headsets for the Quest platform alone. In addition, Pico is resurgent, SteamVR is still going strong and Sony is ready to launch PSVR 2. Given these signs, Schell decided to try multiplayer. His studio partnered with developers Innersloth to adopt a recent multiplayer gaming phenomenon to VR — Among Us. It is available now for $9.99 on Steam and Quest. Be sure to read our review which highlights how the VR version enhances many of the emotional reactions elicited by this classic game of deception.
Given his experience, the weight of a popular title such as Among Us coming to VR, and Schell’s propensity to make bold predictions in the public eye — we thought today was a good time to ask him whether he thinks now is the right time for a game like this to sustain the player base necessary to keep the fun going. Here’s Jesse Schell’s prepared response:
For several years, I’ve talked about ten million as a key number in the development of any networked system. When there are less than ten million users, probably none of your friends are doing it, but when there are more than ten million, chances are good that at least one of your friends is using the system. VR solidly crossed that threshold this year. The number of Quest 2 headsets alone seems to be over ten million. And we are already seeing the effects of it — multiplayer games have gradually been taking higher and higher spots on the sales charts. We chose the timing for Among Us VR based on our projections of where we thought the market would be, and I’m glad to say we’re feeling the timing is right. This holiday is poised to be a time when many people are on the lookout for VR experiences they can play with others they know who have a headset, and we’re thrilled that Among Us VR can be part of the snowballing growth that we’re expecting in the coming year.”