Google's New Buy Boosts VR Gaming

By Steve Anderson May 11, 2017

Google isn't exactly new to gaming. As the originator of the Android operating system, it's had a hand in more than a few games. A while back, Google even had some special games specifically for Chrome, like the Wizard of Oz-related Chrome Experiment. Now, thanks to a recent purchase, Google might be an even bigger part of the picture than ever before as it picked up Owlchemy Labs, a leader in virtual reality (VR) gaming.

Gamers are likely familiar with Owlchemy Labs, even if not immediately; Owlchemy put together both Job Simulator and Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, two of the biggest VR games running right now. This acquisition won't affect any of Owlchemy's releases—reports suggest that there are several games currently in various stages of development at the company that will still come out—but rather, Owlchemy will enjoy support from Google.

What's interesting here is that Google's purchase of Owlchemy is almost at odds with Google's own internal VR development. While Google, with its Daydream VR platform, has been focusing more on visuals and limited motion controls, Owlchemy has instead focused on its controls in a bid to approximate the experience of using real hands. It's worth noting that Google has released products that weren't for Google headsets, so this could just be a project in that vein.

With its I/O developer conference set to arrive next week—and E3 only a little over a month out right now—there's every opportunity that Google could be planning something a lot bigger in the space to come. Given the advances made by competitor Facebook and its Oculus acquisition, that's not out of line; Google almost certainly won't want to cede non-mobile VR to PlayStation and Facebook.

It would be easy here to say that Google is trying to expand beyond its own capabilities in the VR space, expressed primarily by the Daydream system. After all, if Google's focused on limited manipulation and all Owlchemy does is manipulation—seriously, have you seen either of its games? They're like an electronic busy box toy for grown men and women, only a lot funnier—then Google might be set to bring Owlchemy's development to its own operations. It's also something of a profit center; Job Simulator alone has sold over $3 million's worth so far.

This could be the start of something impressive for Google, and since Owlchemy has already delivered in the past, it's a safe bet it will continue to do so. With some powerful new backing and loads of resources, the next stop for Owlchemy could be just about anywhere.




Edited by Alicia Young

Contributing Writer

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