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Former PlayStation and Activision Execs Form New VR Studio

Maze Theory

A pair of gaming industry veterans have teamed up to form a new VR studio that will “redefine the virtual reality experience” for players.

Former Activision Europe managing director Geoff Heath and PlayStation Europe marketing director Mark Hardy have partnered with London-based creative agency Output Group to form Maze Theory, which will focus on developing platform-agnostic VR projects.

‘Redefining the virtual reality experience’

The studio’s first title, The Vanishing Act, is currently in an alpha state, having been previously developed as a standalone VR experience by Found Studio, Output Group’s media production arm. An early version of the game was demoed on the road last year, which – somewhat unusually for a room-scale VR title – used the Oculus Rift rather than the HTC Vive. Given Maze Theory’s stated indiscriminate approach to platforms, it is likely to be made available for a range of headsets upon release.

In a press release, Heath said: “It’s a really exciting time to be involved in virtual reality, especially with the technology gaining traction with video game producers and rolling out at experiential events and visitor attractions.

“Maze Theory’s going to redefine the virtual reality experience by combining the latest VR technology with Output Group’s vast experience in animation, games development, film production and storytelling to create truly immersive games.”

VR showing no sign of letting up

The news comes amidst a report from Yulio Technologies that estimates over 82 million VR headsets will be in use by 2020, with the VR industry set to reach a market value of $40.4 billion. Any suggestion that virtual reality adoption was stalling seems to have been put to rest by these impressive figures, coupled with Sony’s announcement back in December that it had surpassed two million PlayStation VR unit sales.

Aside from console and PC experiences, mobile VR remains extremely popular; the same report estimated that over 90% of VR headsets currently in use are mobile phone-based, such as Samsung’s Gear VR. Even the iGaming industry has capitalised on the popularity of the technology on mobile; the NetEnt-developed Mr Green VR casino allows players to move between two blackjack and two roulette tables in virtual reality using their Gear VR headset.

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With VR being such a relatively young technology, it is likely we will continue to see developers continue to create experiences that immerse users even further in their virtual worlds. For instance, the early demo of Maze Theory’s The Vanishing Act tasked players with exploring the stored digital memories of a scientist in order to piece together his backstory – not too dissimilar to the Pensieve from the Harry Potter world. It is expected that the title will retain its exploratory themes, but will likely feature more user interactivity and player agency in order to lift it from a VR “experience” to a fully fledged game.

Hardy added: “The games industry is continually evolving and virtual reality is a natural progression. With Maze Theory, we want to drive innovation in the sector and produce best in class VR games that will help to drive the technology forward.”

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