The Memo: CCP's giant bet

Last week we covered Hilmar Veigar’s (CEO of CCP) keynote at the annual Eve Fanfest. As expected, a big part of it focused on the company’s VR efforts. Also, Dust 514, CCP’s PlayStation exclusive shooter, will be sunset later this year.

Developing the VR in Iceland

Although CCP is building new headquarters in Reykjavik, and their main operation is based here, the VR development isn’t. Studios in Atlanta, Newcastle, and Shanghai have been most involved in VR projects.

While they haven’t decided to base their VR efforts outside of Iceland, they could end up doing so. Especially when tax refunds for R&D investments are not comparable between these locations. Atlanta offers 30% of all R&D, Newcastle 20% and Iceland 0.8%.

The tech community here should try to push for CCP investing in VR development here (to be fair, there’s nothing to say that they won’t). If we want to establish a hub of VR companies here, we need both fledgling startups, and incumbent corporations to focus on that area. CCP’s VR focus would increase Iceland’s knowledge and experience in everything VR related.

Games aren’t the “killer app”

I think, and I’m influenced by thinkers like Chris Dixon in this area, that games are the predictable apps for VR. But VR as it is now is lonely. You sit with a giant headset on a sofa, experiencing something incredible, alone.

This loneliness of VR was clear this weekend when my girlfriend tried the Gear VR at a dinner party. She experienced a dinosaur movie, which made her look ridiculous to us (she shrieked a bit when the dino came too close). We didn’t experience anything with her, we just saw her react to an immersive virtual reality. What was missing was human connection, and the ability to share experiences.

The three VR products CCP has announced are games. Valkyrie is beautiful and immersive and fun to play, but I doubt that games for hardcore gamers will define VR as a platform. Their most interesting project (that they’ve revealed) is Project Arena. Gaming media describes it as virtual reality sport. Two players, armed with disks and shields, throw disks at each other to score points.

However fun the gameplay is, that’s not the magic. CCP’s technology captures the movement of each player and displays to the other. It’s that good (I’ve tried it) that you can recognize who you’re playing with by her movements. It makes you feel as if you’re in the same room with her. I’ve talked to CCP developers that played this against their colleagues located in Georgia, that said the game made them forget that they weren’t in the same room.

If CCP can pull that off – creating experiences where people feel like they’re next to each other through VR – I think they can reap a lot of value out of their VR ventures.

If you have tips or comments, tweet at me @kiddiarni. Sign up to receive the Memo by email every Monday morning.