The world’s biggest gaming console has a big new app for VR, but the company behind it is struggling to compete with Amazon.
As part of its annual VR conference, Ami recently revealed a new VR-exclusive game called Ami-Escape.
It’s a free-to-play VR title that promises to offer “immersive” experiences like no other, and it’s only available on Android and Oculus Rift headsets.
“It’s about taking your favourite game and bringing it to life, and making it accessible to VR consumers everywhere,” said Ami founder and CEO Rohan Karpathy.
Ami Entertainment’s new game is the first of a series of VR-related titles to arrive from Ami, which is a subsidiary of VR powerhouse VRcade.
“We’re constantly building the next generation of games for the VR platform,” said Karpathys co-founder of Ami.
“Ami is an early example of a game that’s been created in the VR space to be released on the Rift.”
Ami Escape will be available in the Oculus store on August 25 for £5.99.
VRcade co-creator and co-director David Smith explained that the VR game will be an adaptation of his own experience with VR.
“We had this experience that was like, ‘This is going to be a real trip for me’,” said Smith.
“It was the first time I was really feeling a real sense of being immersed in a virtual world.”
Smith said that the Oculus team is working with the Ami team to make the game more accessible to consumers.
“When I look at this game, I can’t help but be impressed with how well it’s going to work on the Oculus Rift and I think it’s probably the first VR game that really delivers the experience of immersion and feeling immersed in the game, rather than just watching the gameplay,” said Smith, who previously worked at Oculus as a software engineer.
Smith said he was initially skeptical of VR when he first tried it out.
“I thought I would never be able to get comfortable enough to spend $10 on the Vive, and then go out into the world and play for $10,” he said.
“But when I did, I was like: ‘Wow!
This is so cool!'”
Ami released Ami E, the VR experience, for PC in August 2016, and on iOS and Android in June 2017.
The Ami app offers both standalone VR experiences, which allow you to move around the virtual world, and “Amo-E-Cards” that allow you “to swap” your character in and out of the game.
“You can buy them with virtual currency or just buy them from the store,” said James Dyson, head of the Amicube team.
Dyson explained that Ami is the latest in a series from the company that began in the late ’90s.
“This was a game we had made before the Steam era, and we’ve done a lot of stuff with it,” he told me.
“At the time it was kind of like a cross between Star Wars and Minecraft.
It had a sense of community.”
While Ami’s first VR experience is free- to-play, it’s not the only one to be made available for free on VRcade platforms.
In 2017, Amicuube, another VR platform, launched an Ami Card-based game called Vroom that costs $9.99 a month.
“The point is to make a VR experience that is accessible for all kinds of people,” said Dyson.
The company has also released Amicubes first VR-focused game, a new title called Vulture.
The game is a VR title made exclusively for VRcade and is available on a variety of devices.
“Vulture is a very ambitious project, and one that will be coming to Oculus soon,” said a spokesperson for Ami on the VRcade website.
“Once released, we will be sharing a few more details about it.”
For Smith, the appeal of VR is not so much the VR content as the fact that it’s “very personal”.
“I have a great deal of interest in VR as a medium, and I have a lot to say about it, and have a passion for it,” said the founder of VRcade, who added that he plans to create “many more” VR-centric games in the future.