CCP Games, the company behind the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game EVE Online, just raised another $30 million from Novator and NEA. But this time, the funding round isn’t about supporting the 12-year-old MMORPG, it’s all about virtual reality games.
CCP Games isn’t a new shiny startup. Founded in 1997, they spent years working on an ambitious multiplayer game for PC, Eve Online. As one of the most innovative sandbox game with a player-driven economy, the game thrived, reaching 500,000 monthly subscribers in February 2013. But the company has stopped reporting the number of subscribers since then.
In other words, CCP Games is looking for its second act. The company released another game in order to diversify its revenue. But Dust 514, a free-to-play first-person shooter for the PlayStation 3, isn’t a commercial breakthrough. World of Darkness, another multiplayer game, was canceled after years of development and led to many layoffs.
And yet, a few employees may have accidentally found a solution. They worked on a space combat demo in virtual reality for the 2013 Eve Fanfest. EVE-VR later became EVE Valkyrie and was one of the first game prototypes for the Oculus Rift. The company is still working on it and hopes to release it for the Oculus Rift and PlaySation VR in 2016.
You control your spaceship with a controller, and you can move your head around in the cockpit with a VR headset. There are a few nifty interactions depending on where you look as well.
The company has also been working on another VR game, Gunjack. This game works with Samsung’s Gear VR and a Samsung phone. As expected, it isn’t as immersive as Eve Valkyrie given that the game runs on a phone, but it’s a nice demo for Samsung’s headset. The game will be released next month.
So CCP Games is betting big on virtual reality. Let’s hope that it’s not a fad and that people will actually have VR headsets at home. If that’s the case, the company could be well-positioned to release the first blockbuster games in virtual reality.