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Netflix hires Oculus and EA veteran Mike Verdu to lead games

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Netflix has hired former Oculus and EA game development leader Mike Verdu to head its fledgling game efforts.

The company has been hiring game people for a while, and Verdu is the biggest name yet to come on board at the streaming service for movies and TV shows. The move shows the company is serious about expanding into games, which Netflix CEO Reed Hastings once described (pointing out Fortnite in particular) as Netflix’s biggest competition for the time of its customers.

Verdu will be vice president of game development, reporting to chief operating officer Greg Peters. Verdu was Facebook’s vice president in charge of augmented reality and virtual reality content. He also served as senior vice president of EA mobile, president of studios and chief creative officer at Kabam, CEO of TapZen, and chief creative officer and co-president of games at Zynga.

Netflix has dabbled in games before with titles like a Stranger Things game and The 3% Challenge. The latter is a voice-controlled game. And Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is a game-like experience, as it’s an interactive TV show in which the audience makes choices that influence the end of the story.

These were babysteps into games. But Verdu is a serious game leader whose career has focused on building entire portfolios of games for companies.

Netflix’s move into games has been anticipated, as all of the big tech companies have acknowledged the power of gaming, which has grown to a $175 billion industry, according to market researcher Newzoo. In the wake of the pandemic, gaming is also growing faster than many other forms of entertainment and media, according to a report this week by PwC.

But moving into games isn’t easy. Google spun up a studio to make games for its Stadia cloud gaming service, and then it shut down the internal game studio that Jade Raymond led. Amazon has also had mixed results with games like Crucible, and it recently decided to open source its Lumberyard game engine. Facebook owns the Oculus virtual reality business, and it is experimenting with cloud gaming now, and it is touting services for game streamers. Apple, meanwhile, is working on augmented reality and virtual reality technologies.

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Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/07/14/netflix-hires-oculus-and-ea-veteran-mike-verdu-to-lead-games/

AR/VR

The VR Drop: A Breezey RPG Summer

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It’s hot, it’s sunny so why stay inside playing virtual reality (VR) videogames? Because it’s hot, too sunny and quite frankly July has been filled with awesome releases. And that’s set to continue as the month comes to a close next week with more VR titles than you can shake a stick at gearing up for launch. Here are five that VRFocus is looking forward to in the coming days.

Winds & Leaves

Winds & Leaves – Trebuchet

After previously releasing Prison Boss VR Canadian developer Trebuchet returns with a far more open-air experience. In Winds & Leaves you become a virtual gardener bringing life back to a barren planet. Using a unique connection to the trees and plants around you, the only way you can explore the world is by planting forests that provide life-giving energy whilst offering a safe haven to return to. A VR experience for nature lovers.

  • Supported platforms: PlayStation VR
  • Launch date: 27th July

Arcsmith – Bithell Games

In Arcsmith you become a space engineer guided by a rather reluctant master arcsmith Korith Dinn. Onboard his usually quiet space station you’ll learn how to construct a variety of space-based items and machinery, fitting parts together in your own way. Whilst these three-dimensional engineering puzzles have specifications to work to, the modular design of the components means you can get creative with each assembly.

Arcsmith

Zombieland VR: Headshot Fever – XR Games

Initially due for release earlier this month on Steam, Zombieland fans can get in on the action in a few days. An official franchise tie-in with the films, Zombieland VR: Headshot Fever is an arcade-style shooter testing your aim and speed across a variety of zombie-filled courses. Get two headshots in a row to activate slow-mo, giving you more time to rack up those kills and points to unlock more goodies.

Vengeful Rites – Deep Dive Interactive

A Steam Early Access title that arrived back in 2018, Vengeful Rights is a big, story-driven role-playing game (RPG) set for an official launch next week. Filled with puzzles to solve and monsters to fight you’ll be able to wield swords, bows and magical abilities as you seek to save the world in this classic fantasy adventure.

Neon Hat

Neon Hat – Entalto Studios

From Spanish indie team Entalto Studios, Neon Hat is a very vibrant, cyber racer designed for use with PlayStation Move controllers, each one serves as a rocket booster allowing players to fly around corners and through checkpoints. Featuring its own original synthwave soundtrack, Neon Hat features ten courses across three gameplay modes. 

  • Supported platforms: PlayStation VR
  • Launch date: 29th July

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/07/the-vr-drop-a-breezey-rpg-summer/

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AR/VR

Stride’s Oculus Quest Launch Confirmed for August

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It’s a busy time for Russian virtual reality (VR) studio Joy Way. Not only has the team unveiled a new first-person shooter in the form of Outlier, but its parkour-inspired videogame Stride is now set to make its debut for Oculus Quest in August.

STRIDE

Initially, a Steam Early Access release for PC VR headsets in 2020 with one Endless Mode available, in that time Joy Way has fleshed the experience out into three different gameplay modes, all of which are coming to the Oculus Quest edition.

Stride is a mixture of freerunning and combat, where you can run across rooftop locations, leaping from one to another, adding a little wall running in or a cheeky slide underneath an obstacle. In Endless Mode this is a continual dash straight forward, trying not to let the big black wall of death catch up and kill you. It’s procedurally generated so each run is different – so no learning a perfect route – and you also need to keep an eye out for snipers.

Time Run mode is fairly obvious, be really quick and fly through the levels as smoothly as possible to score an awesome time on the leaderboard. Arena Mode gives you the greatest freedom, a big open arena to traverse however you please. There will be challenges to complete such as finding and collecting certain items, completing specified routes, killing all the enemies or stealing an item without getting spotted.

STRIDE

Eventually, Stride will also get a fourth mode, a full-on campaign to complete. Joy Way has been talking about the Story Mode since last year, saying that it’ll be released in Q3 2021. The studio hasn’t specified if it’s just for Steam, to begin with.

Stride is set for release on 5th August 2021 for Oculus Quest, retailing for $14.99 USD. For further updates on the videogame, keep reading VRFocus.

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/07/strides-oculus-quest-launch-confirmed-for-august/

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AR/VR

Thierry Henry & Gary Neville Participate in VR Football Specialist Rezzil’s £2m Funding Round

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Due out later this summer for Oculus Quest is the football-inspired fitness title Rezzil Player 22, from British virtual reality (VR) specialist Rezzil. Today, the studio has announced the completion of a new £2 million GBP funding round which saw some big names from the footballing world take part.

Rezzil Player 22
Rezzil Player 22

The round saw high profile investors including Thierry Henry, Gary Neville, Vincent Kompany, Michail Antonio, Tyrone Mings and Anthony Watson take part, all because they see VR as an evolution in training. The company started out with Rezzil Elite – previously know as Rezzil Player 21 – designed as a training and analysis tool for professional football clubs. You can find a free version of this called Rezzil Index on Steam for Valve Index and HTC Vive, with Vive Trackers required to track your feet.

Rezzil Player 22 for Oculus Quest will be even more consumer-focused, providing a range of activities all designed and tested by UEFA pro licensed coaches to get those energy levels up. As the headset can’t track your feet the core modes focus on improving heading skills so you can accurately nut one into the back of the net. Other modes also feature basketball and tennis-inspired drills.

“As a father, I can see the appeal of Rezzil for children and it’s exciting as a parent because the combination of e-sport and traditional sport means they’re being healthy and active when they’re playing as opposed to a sedentary game,” says Thierry Henry in a statement. “I’ve been involved in football for many years but I honestly believe Rezzil is one of the most promising technologies to enter the sport. In sport we’re always looking for an edge over the competition and Rezzil provides just that. There are so many applications, from training and rehabilitation, it was an easy decision for me to get involved.”

Rezzil Player 22
Rezzil Player 22

As a training aid, it can be used anywhere, which allows players of all levels, who may not otherwise have access to a pitch or others to work with, to train in their own time, at their own pace. There is so much potential for Rezzil, both within elite sport and as a consumer product and it aligned perfectly with my vision of having investments that I’m passionate about,” Neville adds.

As Rezzil continues to expand its VR training solutions and when it reveals the launch date for Rezzil Player 22, VRFocus will keep you updated.

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/07/thierry-henry-gary-neville-participate-in-vr-football-specialist-rezzils-2m-funding-round/

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AR/VR

After the Fall Delayed Again, Oculus Quest Version to 2022

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This summer is full of exciting virtual reality (VR) videogame releases but today sees one of the biggest, Vertigo Games’ After the Fall being pushed later into the year. The studio announced the delay will affect all versions with the original Oculus Quest edition hit the hardest, delayed until next year.

After the Fall has suffered a series of delays ever since it was revealed in 2019. During E3 2021 last month things looked promising with Vertigo Games’ trio of announcements still putting the multiplatform, co-op shooter on for a summer release. That’s definitely not happening now with the studio confirming via a statement on Twitter that the plan is still to launch in 2021 for most VR platforms, just not this summer.

“Unfortunately we have made the necessary decision to push the multi-platform release of After the Fall on PlayStation VR, Oculus Quest 2, and PC VR to later this year. In addition to this, we have decided to split off the launch on the original Oculus Quest to 2022,” the statement reads.

It doesn’t specifically state why this new delay has happened, just that: “With After the Fall we have set ourselves the ultimate goal of bringing you the best possible 4-player, co-op experience in VR. To ensure a smooth multi-platform launch with cross-platform support, we are giving our development team the time they need to finalise their work.”

After the Fall

Considering this is Vertigo Games biggest project to date it’s not surprising that the team wants to ensure After the Fall is as good as it can be, especially considering the cross-platform aspect which is a vital component of the gameplay. Much like Lone Echo II, After the Fall has become one of these major projects which have continually seen delays, greatly building anticipation and expectation for the videogame.

After the Fall will allow up to four players to fight their way through an icy, post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, filled with zombie-like monsters called Snowbreed. They’ll have to scavenge for weapons and resources, using them to craft new items and make upgrades as they try to survive.

VRFocus will continue its coverage of After the Fall, reporting back with all the latest updates.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/07/after-the-fall-delayed-again-oculus-quest-version-to-2022/

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