This week’s update introduces a whole new way to use VirZOOM: You can now play any game in VirZOOM Arcade with a handheld controller instead of a VirZOOM bike. If you’ve ever wanted to give VirZOOM a try but weren’t sure about buying custom hardware, now’s your chance to check out our entire suite of VR games for free. VirZOOM Arcade includes a number of games with live, drop-in/drop-out multiplayer capabilities, plus the option to pass the controller and headset around the room and compete locally, party-style. This update is now available on both the PlayStation Store (supporting DualShock 4 controllers on PS4) and on Steam (supporting Xbox One, Xbox 360, and DualShock 4 controllers on PC).
Why offer controller support for a collection of exercise games? It may seem an odd move, but many people have actually requested the ability to play VirZOOM games without buying the bike first. Some people just want a fuller demo; others want to be able to just have fun, relax, or keep playing even after they’re too tired to keep pedaling. And while it’s true that VirZOOM Arcade is designed to deliver a workout, it’s still got a lot to recommend it to anybody who loves VR gaming.
VirZOOM Arcade is more than an exercise routine. It’s a collection of endlessly replayable, arcade-style games, many with live multiplayer capabilities. After launching with five games back in June, we’ve followed through on our promise to keep adding and tweaking games and features as we go, bringing the total up to seven and counting. Some are more clearly designed to make you break a sweat, like our bicycle game Le Tour. Others translate especially well to a controller, like our tank battleground Winterstan, which can feature up to eight players simultaneously gunning for AI-controlled enemies and other players alike. And while pedaling on a Pegasus is an exhilarating way to break a sweat, the feeling of flying is thrilling however you reach the sky.
VirZOOM Arcade also offers surprisingly comfortable VR locomotion. Even without the bike, VirZOOM is a pretty special virtual reality experience. It’s no secret that moving around in virtual spaces is challenging for many, and downright nauseating for some. As our CTO Eric Malafeew explains in his article Pedaling With a Pegasus, however, our motion-tracking control solution dramatically cuts down on simulation sickness. We think a lot of players will be surprised how good it feels with a controller, and when we say that it feels even better when you pedal, we suspect many will want to give the bike a try too – especially considering our 30-day money-back guarantee and full fitness tracking features through My VirZOOM.
What could go wrong? We know that suddenly introducing many new players on a new control scheme presents its own set of challenges, of course, so we’ll be closely monitoring how this affects the play experience for everyone. One of the most immediate results we expect to see is an even livelier multiplayer community, with more active games to drop into and out of whenever you’re able to play. More multiplayer competition, however, means strict attention to fairness: The last thing we want is for people sweating through a workout to feel frustrated by competing against players who don’t seem to be working hard. Moreover, our games weren’t designed to be played at a constant sprinting speed just by holding down a button anyway. The scheme for controllers, then, lets you hold down a trigger to move at walking speed, but requires you to tap quickly to accelerate. (EDIT: We’ve changed this! See comments below.) This is just one area that we’re looking at closely, and are eager to continue to refine the VirZOOM experience to feel excellent for everyone.
We need your feedback! We tested and tuned to make the controller experience to be as comfortable and balanced with bike players as possible, but we still need you, the players, to tell us how it feels. Comment on this blog post, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any technical issues, and challenge us to your favorite games. We’ve kicked our servers on the hubcaps, polished our Code of Conduct, updated our customer support system, and told our forum moderator to put on a brave face. It’s time to welcome more players than ever to VirZOOM.