AstroBeam has raised $3 million in funding to make multiplayer experiences on virtual reality platforms.
The seed investment round was led by a group of notable investors, including The Venture Reality Fund, Anorak Ventures, Boost VC, TIRTA Ventures, and Oculus cofounder Nate Mitchell. AstroBeam’s mission is to redefine VR multiplayer, making it more accessible, comfortable, and engaging for a broader audience.
The Austin studio’s founder is Devin Reimer, the former CEO and CTO of Owlchemy Labs, creators of popular VR titles like Job Simulator and Vacation Simulator.
The primary focus of AstroBeam is to create a multiplayer VR environment that is easy to approach and offers a natural way for friends to interact and have fun. To achieve this, the studio is emphasizing natural hand tracking and voice communication with both friends and non-playable characters (NPCs).
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“I’m very excited to work to redefine VR multiplayer as something that is accessible, approachable, and comfortable for the mainstream,” Reimer said in a statement. “I believe a big part of this starts with input. Using your hands to directly interact with the virtual world and speaking naturally to both your friends and NPCs will be a big game changer within the space.”
Reimer has a track record of creating innovative and successful VR experiences. He cofounded Owlchemy Labs, known for pushing the boundaries of VR gaming and entertainment. Job Simulator became a VR phenomenon and set records in the industry. Google bought Owlchemy in 2017.
“When we were originally creating Job Simulator, we had to rethink what a game was to leverage the power of VR. I’m excited to do this again with VR multiplayer because it is so radically different. I believe presence with others is VR’s biggest superpower, and I want to tap into that in a way that everyone can enjoy,” said Reimer.
AstroBeam’s ambition is to make multiplayer VR gaming accessible and enjoyable, ultimately attracting a more diverse audience to virtual reality and changing the way people engage with friends and the virtual world.
The company has three people. In an email to GamesBeat, Reimer said, “As for inspiration there are few big drivers. I believe that presence with other people is VR’s great superpower, but yet in practice there are still so few good examples. This stuff is hard. VR has the potential to be the perfect place to hangout and have fun with friends, but I think it requires a big rethink on what multiplayer games are.”
He added, “Additionally in my career I’ve been very focused on input. How do we interact with games? Job Simulator was a big seismic shift on input. Being able to perform complex but natural interactions in virtual worlds with the use of positionally tracked controllers. I feel so fortunate to have played a part in shaping that advancement.”
He thinks we’re on the cusp of a revolution in spatial computing input.
“Your hands and your voice. Hand tracking has finally reached the point where the controllers can not only be replaced, but things can be built that are better than controllers, from accessibility, to friction, to comfort,” Reimer said. “Language understanding being the other big shift. Being able to talk is one of the most powerful forms of potential input, but technology hasn’t been able to handle this in a robust way until now. Interacting with other players, the world, and NPCs by using only your hands and your voice is not only going to open up huge new opportunities in game design, but will make what we are building enjoyable by more people.”
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