Google is recruiting YouTube stars and other creators to build a catalog of exclusive material for its Daydream virtual reality platform, which will launch in "the coming weeks," says a Bloomberg report. Sources have told Bloomberg that Google is funding 360-degree videos from YouTube celebrities like Justine Ezarik, known as iJustine, and is spending "hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece" on various VR content and apps.
This isn’t necessarily surprising, as Google already announced a number of games and apps for Daydream during its reveal at Google IO this spring. Video platform Hulu will have a presence on Daydream, as will IMAX, the NBA, and major game companies like Ubisoft. Google will reportedly spend a "high six figures" on video games, and smaller amounts for films, which are made using Google’s Jump 360-degree video platform. It’s not totally clear how much of this funding goes to projects that will be exclusive to Daydream, when YouTube already hosts 360-degree videos that can be watched on a phone or desktop computer. Hulu is reportedly timing some pieces for release when Daydream launches, but they won’t be exclusively available on the platform.
Daydream is Google’s attempt at a ubiquitous VR platform built into the Android mobile ecosystem. Most of Google’s major mobile partners have pledged to build Daydream-compatible phones, which will meet certain standards and can be clipped into special Daydream headsets in a manner similar to Samsung’s Gear VR. Apps will work with a small, handheld motion controller, which will be included with headsets. So far, Google has released only a reference design for these headsets, seen above. While Daydream isn’t here yet, developers can get a taste of its capabilities through Android Nougat, and Google has previously said that it will launch sometime this fall.