Wednesday, October 27, 2021

This video game will make you want to run like a robot

Being groundbreaking for mainstream audiences is something that Baltimore game developer Genshin is proud of and believes the game holds a special place in the land of popular video games.

The game, which is a version of its mobile game, “Genshin,” just hit its one-year anniversary and it’s hard to believe that it’s the first virtual reality racing game to land on the market. As of 2018, about 700 million games were downloaded on mobile devices. The latest mobile phone and game developer app stores reached 1.7 billion downloads in the last year alone.

In what’s dubbed the “Golden Age of video games,” with no major title launches at launch, video games are now “on the map for everyone to play,” said C. Robert Garcia, Genshin’s president.

Pioneers

Genshin launched its self-proclaimed “first and biggest” VR racing game — “Racing Run” — on March 24, 2018. The initial launch has helped propel the company, Garcia said. “Racing Run” was the first VR racing game to launch and the debut was “one of the largest in the history of this industry,” he said.

Racing games in Virtual Reality have traditionally been aimed at tech-savvy players. But Genshin started out going after a broader audience, he said.

And therein lies Genshin’s strategy for future projects — diversify.

“Racing Run” is accessible to all gamers and Genshin isn’t the only company putting out VR racing games aimed at the mainstream.

Garcia is in discussions with a few studios, hoping to launch a franchise based on a group of popular characters and even extending the brand into augmented reality. But those concepts would require a lot of initial investment to develop and test new software, so it’s taking a careful approach to get “to the next level,” he said.

It’s been a little over a year since “Racing Run” was released but Garcia still calls it a success.

Nearly 2,000,000 players play the game, and more than 550,000 people have participated in its annual races. Another 270,000 people will play this year’s “Racing Run: Road to UND” race in May.

“Getting to the next level in VR racing was a very difficult goal for this company,” Garcia said. “We believe that achieving this goal is part of a permanent competitive advantage in the VR racing industry.”

Virtual reality started making its way to the mainstream on TVs in living rooms in 2006, and today about 9 percent of Americans own a headset.

The challenge for developers in the near future is to find ways to expand their target audience, Garcia said.

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