Wevr’s TheBlu delivered a mesmerizing deep-sea experience with blue whales and other creatures when it debuted on virtual reality platforms in 2016. And now Wevr is launching an all-new undersea adventure, TheBlu: Deep Rescue, at the new Dreamscape Immersive social VRvenue at a mall in Los Angeles today.
The original version of TheBlu helped Venice, California-based helped Wevr set itself apart from many of its rivals in VR, which sadly didn’t live up to the hyped expectations. And that enabled Wevr to operate profitably in VR, despite the treacherous waters. Like many VR studios, Wevr has expanded, or pivoted, into location-based entertainment, said Neville Spiteri, CEO of Wevr, in an interview with GamesBeat.
Audiences at Dreamscape’s venue in Westfield Century City can now experience Wevr’s critically acclaimed undersea immersive adventure TheBlu in a radically new location-based installment with cinematic narrative and social interaction. As many as six players can join the same experience in a social VR setting. Wevr has a partnership with AMC Theaters and Dreamscape.
TheBlu home edition was one of the rare VR hits, as it was a beautiful experience that let you view an underwater world in three dimensions.
Directed by Jake Rowell, the new adventure reimagines TheBlu’s vivid undersea simulation as an interactive multi-person experience propelled by an action-based and emotionally engaging narrative.
“VR has been a singular experience, but we always wanted to be in there with other people,” said Rowell, in an interview. “Working with Dreamscape allowed us to do that. We put you in there with six people. We created full-body avatars tracking everything. We essentially make you a diver and put in a narrative thread where you go on a journey together.”
During the mission, you have to work with others to get big tasks done, Rowell said.
It’s not a slam dunk that shifting into VR arcades and destinations will succeed. Starbreeze and StarVR just announced they hit some bumps in the road with both VR venue and home VR expansions.
“VR is so new that we are experimenting,” Rowell said. “We are being mindful of learning. We are finding projects, like with early movies and video games, that will allow us to expand into an area that we think creates immersion and presence and may be the spark that lights the larger market on fire.”
“We’ve been constantly reevaluating and being very diligent about this space,” Spiteri said. “Though VR hasn’t lit the world on fire, there are many small fires that are warm and cozy, popping up all over the place. We’ve stayed the course, more than anything.”
He added, “It’s an early market, but there’s no question there is an appetite for well-crafted VR experiences. We have stayed the course. We are still committed to the space. We believe that presence, as delivered in VR, is unmatched by any other medium. We are seeing real returns. TheBlu is a profitable franchise for us. We see several other companies that unfortunately haven’t made it. There’s a real challenge there and it requires navigating the minefield. But our partnership with Dreamscape is an investment that will help us move the medium, keep the lights on, and get us in a better position for the next year, as the market grows both in and out of the home. If anything, we are doubling down on the space. And consumers clearly have an appetite for new experiences.”
With Dreamscape’s focus on cinematic storytelling, the result is an opportunity to experience something most only dream about—the extraordinary sights and sensations of traveling with friends deep beneath the waves and swimming alongside giant blue whales. Even more, it allows audiences to viscerally experience the act of saving an endangered species, Spiteri said.
“Feeling what it’s like to be a member of an elite dive team on a mission to save an endangered blue whale is truly wish-fulfillment beyond one’s wildest dreams and a huge step closer to realizing the ultimate promise of immersive entertainment,” said Dreamscape Immersive CEO, Bruce Vaughn, in a statement.
“Wevr is not simply a VR or AR studio. We make all types of immersive content and always think about how to use the newest technology to create the best experiences and stories,” said Wevr cofounder Anthony Batt, in a statement.
Spiteri said that Wevr is working on pioneering media on augmented reality and mixed reality technologies as well.
Alongside TheBlu, Wevr has partnered with director Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Jungle Book, The Lion King) for Gnomes & Goblins, as well as produced experiences with creatives including Reggie Watts, Run the Jewels and Deepak Chopra. In 2017 the company was included on Fast Company’s list of “Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in AR/VR.”
Wevr has 55 people. About 25 worked on TheBlu: Deep Rescue, though the core team was more like 10 people.
“There’s a way to thread the needle here where the economics really work at scale,” Spiteri said. “It’s challenging. It’s not a slam dunk. But I think next year is going to be a very good year for us.”