Virtuix today launched Omniverse, a content distribution platform for Omni commercial operators that features licensed VR content, a flat-rate compensation system, and a user profile system that syncs with all Omniverse arcade locations.
Four years ago, Virtuix launched a Kickstarter campaign for an omnidirectional treadmill system called Omni, which featured a locomotion solution that offered deeper immersion into VR games. The company needed $150,000 to help manufacture the first run of its concept. Virtuix’s idea struck a chord with VR early adopters, and the company secured just over $1.1 million from 3,249 backers before the campaign ended.
Last fall, Virtuix transitioned from marketing the Omni VR motion platform directly to consumers to offering the hardware solely to commercial operators. The company canceled all international Omni Kickstarter and website pre-orders and returned customer money with interest. U.S. customers were offered the choice of moving forward with the order or receiving a refund. After more than three years of refinement, the Omni is no longer the product Virtuix envisioned when it started work on the hardware, and the final product is much more expensive than the company expected. Virtuix founder and CEO Jan Goetgeluk told us that Kickstarter backers received a “substantial” discount on the Omni.
“We’re happy to honor our Kickstarter obligations and US fulfilments, but those units are being shipped at a loss,” said Goetgeluk. “They’re getting probably a 90% discount.”
In the last year, Virtuix refocused its attention to the commercial VR arcade market, where it can sell hardware without taking a loss. In early 2017, Virtuix started developing a software distribution platform that would complement the hardware to offer a complete solution for arcade operators, including a selection of licensed games, a simple commercial licensing system, and a way to manage multiple kiosks via a central hub.
“We’re very excited about both the quality and volume of games launching on our Omniverse platform,” said Goetgeluk “We’ve collaborated with some of the top VR content providers in the world to make sure we offer an exceptional set of experiences to our customers, including fast paced multiplayer first-person shooters, fantasy RPGs, and even casual games offering relaxed exploration. Omniverse transforms the Omni from a standalone hardware input device to an exciting and complete VR entertainment system for our worldwide customers.” “Omniverse is part of the whole system. We no longer sell you just an Omni. We sell you this full entertainment solution.”
Virtuix Omniverse is available to global arcade operators with no upfront costs. Commercial entities that own one or more Omni units get access to the Omniverse platform and all the games it includes. Virtuix worked out a flat-rate dollar-per-minute compensation system that is constant across all games on the platform. The Omniverse platform monitors usage and automatically calculates the developer compensation. Virtuix takes a cut out of the deal for facilitating the transaction.
At launch, Omniverse offers the following 16 licensed VR games:
- AFFECTED - The Manor
- Bow Master
- Coin Rush
- Karnage Chronicles
- Nature Treks VR
- Omni Arena
- Project Ghost
- Quell 4D
- The Bellows
- The SoulKeeper VR
- TRAVR: Shadow Ops
- TRAVR: Training Ops
- VRZ Torment
“In the past, it was like ‘well, what games can I play?’ Well, here you have an awesome lineup games—some of the top VR games in the world—on the Omniverse platform, available to be played with the Omni by arcade customers,” said Goetgeluk.“We’ve been working with game developers for a while. These are existing relationships that we have. We’ve been working with these developers now, for many months to get their games ready for Omniverse. We have 16 games ready at launch today with many more games on the way.”
The Omniverse software allows arcade operators to set time limits for their clients that automatically stop the game after a set amount of time. It also offers a virtual interface that makes it simple for players to switch between available games from within the VR headset.
Perhaps the most interesting feature Virtuix Omniverse offers is the universal user system. Omniverse offers a guest account that players can use. However, if you create an Omniverse user account, you can save your progress in the games you play. Goetgeluk said the user accounts sync globally across all Omniverse arcade operators, which means you don’t have to return to the same location if you want to continue your game. The user accounts make it possible to play through long form VR content over the course of several visits, which Virtuix believes should drive repeat business for arcade operators.
Virtuix is rolling out the Omniverse arcade platform in a staggered release. Several VR arcades were part of the Omniverse beta program and therefore already have the platform in place. Virtuix expects all of its commercial partners to have the Omniverse platform running within the next few weeks. For more information about the Virtuix Omniverse platform and the commercial operator program, visit the Virtuix website.
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Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.
Cancelled my pre-order after it was evident that they are never going to ship these things. They are losing too much so they figure if they just hold out forever, eventually you will give up. I am surprised they have not folded completely yet. Only a matter of time.Reply
Funny, I just got a quote on a KatWalk VR and they *did* quote me about ten times the price of my vendor-cancelled international order for a Virtuix Omni. Must be true...