Skip to main content

Google's VR platform includes partnerships with HBO, Ubisoft, the NBA, and more

Google's VR platform includes partnerships with HBO, Ubisoft, the NBA, and more

Share this story

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Accompanying the announcement of its Daydream mobile virtual reality initiative, Google is revealing a few of the experiences that people might have with its new VR headset. This fall, the company hopes to have Android phone makers launch the first Daydream-ready phones, along with a standardized headset and controller design and a number of Google apps that have been converted to VR. It's also given the names of media and gaming partners who will be building apps and other content for Daydream. Most of the list isn't surprising, but it paints a better picture of where Google's mobile VR is headed.

Some of these partners are coming straight from the world of Cardboard, Google's older and more basic VR platform. That includes The New York Times, which is launching a version of its NYT VR Cardboard app. The Wall Street Journal, which currently offers virtual reality video through its mobile app, will also make the leap.

Beyond that, Google is tapping into the resources of companies that aren't VR-focused per se, but have lots of material that viewers might want. Netflix, and HBO will all have a presence on Daydream, though it'll probably involve watching flatscreen TV and movies in VR, like Netflix already lets you do on Samsung's Gear VR. Hulu is also contributing an app that may be a mix of flatscreen and 360 (it launched such an app for Gear VR earlier this year). More interestingly, IMAX will also bring some of its super-wide-screen films to Daydream. USA Today and CNN are on the list with no details, as are MLB and the NBA, although we do know that the NBA in particular has been quick to embrace 360-degree video. The last partner is Lionsgate, which is currently working on multiple VR game tie-ins to movies like John Wick and Now You See Me 2 — though we don't know what might make it over to Daydream.

Android VR EMBARGO 5/18

Some of these titles have previously come to Cardboard or Gear VR

On the gaming side, you'll find a few obvious choices. As seen in a screenshot, EVE Online creator CCP appears to be creating a variant of the turret shooting game it developed for the Gear VR, called EVE Gunjack Next. A VR version of the mobile Electronic Arts game Need for Speed: No Limits appears. There's a VR version of the game Action Bowling, which previously launched on Gear VR. Google also says it's working with Time Machine VR creator Minority; Turbo Button, which has launched its Adventure Time game on just about every headset; casual VR game studio Resolution; The Assembly developer nDreams; Bandit Six: Salvo developers Climax Studios; and Chinese web giant Netease.

A couple of names are a bit more mysterious. The first is Ubisoft, whose Android game catalog spans several franchises and genres — and which is developing a surprisingly fun aerial combat game called Eagle Flight for the Oculus Rift. The second is Otherside Entertainment, a small company essentially known for rebooting '90s game franchises from the legendary Looking Glass Studios. Otherside's first project is a spiritual sequel to the Ultima Underworld fantasy games, but its second is the cyberpunk-based System Shock 3, which was announced alongside a questionnaire that hinted at an interest in VR.

It'll be several months before we're even close to the launch of the first Daydream-ready phone, so we'll be waiting quite some time for any of these apps — except, of course, for the ones that are already on other VR headsets. So far, the big thing missing is productivity tools and creative programs, like the phenomenal Google-owned Tilt Brush painting app that was released on the HTC Vive. Daydream is emphatically not a high-end VR system, and all VR platforms are focused more on consumption than creation. But given how many people Google wants to reach with it, hopefully we'll see the catalog continue to grow in the coming months.

Correction: Due to an apparent press release error, Climax Studios was originally listed as Climax Entertainment.

Google Daydream VR demo