Google has purchased Owlchemy Labs, the successful virtual reality game studio behind popular VR titles such as Job Simulator and Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality.
With the acquisition, Google further expands its assets in the burgeoning VR industry that it first entered through Google Cardboard, which has so far shipped more than 10 million units.
Google Acquires Owlchemy Labs
Google announced its acquisition of Owlchemy Labs through a post on its official blog, noting that the VR studio's work on Job Simulator and Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality created "thoughtful interactive experiences" that feel natural while remaining intuitive and responsive.
Owlchemy will continue to release VR games across multiple platforms, but will move forward with support from Google. This is similar to the set-up between Google and Skillman & Hacket, the studio behind Tilt Brush that Google purchased in 2015.
"We have a slate of original games that we have in [the] production and prototyping phase, and we're going to continue to do that," said Alex Schwartz, cofounder of Owlchemy Labs.
How Will Google Benefit From The Purchase?
The games of Owlchemy Labs are known for mimicking the use of real hands, and the studio said that it will continue to focus on such hand interactions for future projects.
"This means continuing our mission to build VR for everyone, and doing all of this as the same silly Owlchemy Labs you know and love," the blog post continued.
The full-motion hand tracking that is the trademark of games by Owlchemy Labs is in contrast to the Google Daydream VR platform, which uses a remote with limited motion controls. The acquisition of Owlchemy Labs could mean that hand tracking technology could soon come to Daydream.
Daydream is the hardware and software platform that Google unveiled last year which looks to help Android device manufacturers in creating VR headsets. The platform runs on the Android mobile operating system.
The acquisition of Owlchemy Labs highlights the importance of VR in the future plans of Google, as parent company Alphabet is said to be making significant investments in content for the platform. Most of these investments are said to be going toward app and video game development, sports licenses, and 360-degree video creation.
Owlchemy Labs' 'Job Simulator' And 'Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality'
Job Simulator was first released as a launch title for the PlayStation VR and HTC Vive, and then brought to the Oculus Rift after the release of the Oculus Touch motion controllers. The game, which allows players to perform menial tasks in a futuristic world where robots have starting doing them for humans, surpassed sales of $3 million earlier this year.
Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, meanwhile, was only released last month. The VR game, based on the hit Adult Swim cartoon, allows players to assume the identity of Morty's clone. The title starts off with the clone doing Rick's laundry, but the game eventually becomes more complex as players explore environments and progress the story.