Interest in esports for immersive technologies continues to grow. One of the advantages of attending XR conferences and other events is the opportunity to learn about new products or experiences available for VR and AR, including immersive esports.
Recently, at the VR/AR Global Summit, I met Daniel Japiassu, CEO of YDreams Innovation, a Vancouver-based company specializing in augmented and virtual reality, interactive exhibitions, and esports. Japiassu invited me to try Arkave VR, YDX Innovation’s multiplayer VR gaming platform.
Specifically I was evaluating Arkave VR’s game, The Last Squad of Human Resistance. When checking out a VR game for esports potential, there are several things that can largely determine the potential success of a game. When developers invest time and energy into the following areas, their chances of success greatly increase:
- The game should be fun.
- It must be a good game.
- It should have a spectator mode.
- It should be competitive.
- There should be an active playerbase.
Let’s take a look at how Arkave VR’s The Last Squad of Human Resistance measures up to each of these points.
It should be fun.
When evaluating whether or not a game is enjoyable, it’s important to seek different perspectives. It’s always great to play with others and watch others while they play, then get their feedback. Based on positive reviews online (4.7 out of 5 on Arkave’s Facebook page) as well as talking with attendees at the Global Summit, the game seems to appeal to a wide demographic of people. Personally, I thought it was enjoyable and my teammates, whom I had never met before, also had a great time.
It should be a good game.
The enemies in The Last Squad were creative, I really liked the upgradable guns, and the fact that my teammates and I could roam around the pop up area was great. My only real criticism with the game was the fact that we were in one room the whole time and I would like to have been able to go to another floor or another room. (This might be possible, but if it was, my team didn’t advance that far.) Update: Arkave is working on a new chapter of the game that will take place on the roof. They’re also developing a PvP mode.
Since I normally play seated, I’ll add here that although I was standing during this experience, it would be possible to play this particular experience seated or in a wheelchair. Although it is a free roam experience, you could easily position yourself in such a way that you would be able to guard the doors and also keep an eye on enemies approaching from above. I’m a huge proponent of accessible games so I greatly appreciated the fact that this free roam game could be played seated.
It should have a spectator mode.
One of the best parts of free roam VR or location-based pop ups like Arkave VR is being able to watch your friends and family in the game while you also see what they’re doing in physical reality.
There are various design options, but the standard Arkave VR arena comes with a box truss structure that includes two t.v. monitors for external game play. This enables spectators with the ability to watch what’s happening in the game in real time.
It should be competitive.
When stating that a game should be competitive, let me clarify that this doesn’t necessarily mean a game has to be a multiplayer title to be competitive. While that’s an obvious option, there are also incredibly popular competitive single player VR games, such as Beat Saber or I-Illusions’ Space Pirate Trainer. Single player games can be competitive with leaderboards as players around the globe try to climb to the top.
Games such as The Last Squad allow for players within a particular match to compete against each other or they can work as a team to achieve higher scores than other teams. Arkade VR’s tournament mode includes a leaderboard ranking for single and multiple arenas.
There should be an active playerbase.
Arkave VR has been featured at some major gaming festivals around the world, including Game XP and Brasil Game Show in Brazil, Worten in Portugal, and Toronto’s EGLX in October. This exposure has helped build the playerbase and bring awareness of the platform.
With just over 1,000 followers on Facebook and 4,000 followers on Twitter, Arkave VR still has a ways to go before catching up with the holy grail of VR esports pop ups, the Virtuix Omni Arena, which has 52K followers, but they are already on par with numbers of followers for other popular VR esports games like Downpour Interactive’s Onward (700+ followers on Facebook) or Ready At Dawn’s Echo Arena (900+ followers on Facebook).
The Arkave VR team who helped us at the VR/AR Global Summit were fantastic. They provided us with clean headsets, helped us get into game quickly, and offered to answer questions prior to and following the experience.
Although I played The Last Squad of Human Resistance on the Arkave VR platform, they do have other free roam games available such as Mythical City Games’ Snow Fortress, which I played had played earlier in the week at the Mythical City Games headquarters. As a side note, Snow Fortress would make a fantastic tournament game, especially for younger players. There are increasing numbers of VR esports competitions going on around the world, but many of these involve first-person shooters or they have age limits requiring players to be over 13. It would be great to see a competition in something like Snow Fortress for younger players who are interested in VR esports.
Operators can also transform Arkave VR into three individual game stations – or arcade mode – for games such as Vertigo Games’ Arizona Sunshine, Owlchemy Labs’ Job Simulator, and Superhot VR from Superhot Teams.
In addition, the platform offers escape rooms and they’re currently developing one based on Mickey’s adventures animated series: Mickey Mouse and the Golden Heart. In the immersive experience, players must explore mysterious rooms in a Pyramid, solve puzzles, and confront creatures as Mickey and Minnie guide the cooperative group through challenges in an attempt to find the “Golden Heart” treasure.
Mickey Mouse and the Golden Heart is being developed with support of The Walt Disney Company Brazil. It is not yet released, but YDX is accepting pre-orders. (Note: I didn’t have an opportunity to play this game.)
If you’d like more information about Arkave VR, visit their website.
Note: Like all attendees to the VR/AR Global Summit, I was invited to try Arkave VR, but received no compensation or reward in exchange for my honest opinion of this platform.