Serial entrepreneur Jikhan Jung has been a proponent of social virtual reality gaming for years. The former CEO of Colopl Ni has decided to focus all of his attention on his San Mateo, CA-based development company Subdream Studios.
His team in California has already released three free-to-play multiplayer VR games this year through Colopl Ni. Cyberpong, Slot Tub Party and The Rise of Captain Longboard have already exceeded downloads of over 100,000 across Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Since spinning off from Colopl Ni, the San Mateo-based company has raised seed funding from Cognitive Investments, and DeNA.
“Colopl is the best company to work [for], and I have a lot of respect for our CEO in Japan, Mr. Baba, but I felt that the 100% subsidiary structure was not going to work out,” Jung said. “Being successful in the VR market requires a lot of hard work and talented people, but I didn’t think I could win over great talent and keep them motivated without giving them ownership of the company. That’s why we decide to spin off from Colopl.”
Jung said Subdream means “Dream in a dream” and his studio philosophy is that virtual reality is similar to dreaming.
“With its immersive experience, VR looks very real, but not real (at the same time),” Jung said. “We’re going to make a game that has a social lobby to hang out (dream) and play many multiplayer games together (dream in a dream).”
We are aiming to release Spring next year with HTC Vive, and would like to expand to Oculus later. The studio is small today but the plan is to grow to 10 people and complete several projects next year.
Depending on hardware penetration, “we would like to adjust our team size and the speed with which we release these games,” Jung said.
Subdream is focusing exclusively on multiplayer social games to replicate the experience players have when they get together in the real world.
“Like we see from PC and mobile platforms, social games have longer retention and more monetization opportunities than single-player games. The first hit mobile game was Angry Birds, which was single player, but as of today, all the top-grossing mobile games are social games.”
Part of the company’s game plan is to develop for both the home and the growing number of HTC Vives in VR Arcades around the world.
“We think VR Arcades will play a very important role in VR becoming popular in the near future, and there is a high demand for multiplayer games for those places,” Jung said.
The founder and CEO of Subdream also has an advantage with three successful VR games already released.
“The biggest lesson we learned from those projects is that players want a simple but good social experience in VR, especially at VR Arcades,” Jung said.
Cyberpong for HTC Vive is an intuitive single-player or multiplayer game that anybody can play. Jung said the company earned “meaningful revenue” from Steam and at the same time “surprisingly pretty good revenue” from VR Arcades all over the world, although primarily from China.
Slot Tub Party is a social game for Oculus Rift and Gear VR. Subdream released a VIP version that can be purchased from the Oculus Store and there’s a free in-app purchase version that offers custom items for in-game avatars. Over 20 percent of the revenue from this title has come from in-app purchases.
The Rise of Captain Longboard is the lone single-player game from the studio. Designed for the HTC Vive, this single-player role-playing game is still in Steam Early Access.
The still-untitled new game from Subdream is being designed with a social lobby where players can congregate and find new friends to play with. There will be several arcade-style games available, including shooting, rhythm and racing games designed for two to four players.
“The game will be free-to-play and will require coins to play multiple times,” Jung said. “We’ll give out enough coins in the beginning for players to try out the games.”
Jung said all the arcade mini-games will be customized for intense social gameplay that will last around 10 minutes. Players will compete for high scores across the mini-games as they ultimately try to become members of the hall of fame.
Jung is a big proponent of VR eSports, having held formal tournaments for Cyberpong while CEO of Colopl Ni.
“VR eSports could be huge,” Jung said. “Whenever we held an eSports event, we saw a big spike in installs and daily active users. We would like to have tournament events for our future titles, which will draw a lot of interest for VR itself and our player base.”
Update: Specific funding information for the startup removed subsequent to publishing because source said not all investments had closed.