Scientists have put an end to aging and mortality — and in turn accidentally created ageless toddless, forever stuck in the body of two-year olds, and damned to become the new outcasts. That’s the premise behind “Bebylon Battle Royale,” a virtual reality video game that’s currently being developed by Paris- and Los Angeles-based VR startup Kite & Lightning.
“Bebylon” will debut next summer, and Kite & Lightning co-founder Ikrima Elhassan described it as a comedic party brawler, complete with babies fighting each other in souped-up cars. “Imagine the world of ‘Mad Max,’ but it’s overrun by babies,” he said.
Elhassan said that Kite & Lightning is developing “Bebylon” in stages. At launch, it’s going to feel very much like a traditional video game, with the twist of being accessible in VR. But over time, “Bebylon” will become more complex, offer players to just watch the action, bet on the outcome of matches, or even explore the backstory of different characters through more cinematic experiences. “It’s gonna be way more than games,” he said
Elhassan stressed that “Bebylon” is Kite & Lightning’s attempt to produce its own intellectual property, and monetize it early on in order to build and expand on it in the following months. The company, which hasn’t taken on any outside funding, currently plans to start selling the game via the Oculus Store, the Valve store and on Sony’s Playstation VR in May.
That’s an approach that we are likely going to see a lot over the next couple of months. The first non-mobile VR headsets, including Oculus Rift, Playstation VR and HTC Vive, will all initially target gamers when they start to ship early next year. This is going to influence how VR startups and studios are going to craft their first titles, and how they aim to monetize them.
Gamers are used to paying for their entertainment, whereas there is no proven market for cinematic VR experiences, or even VR movies or TV shows yet. Anyone who wants to capitalize out of the gate on VR is thus going to try to appeal to gamers — and possibly sneak in more cinematic VR entertainment through the backdoor.
The other approach is to bank on outside backing, and produce VR experiences on behalf of Hollywood or brands — which is what plenty of startups in the space are doing these days, before there really is a market for direct-to-consumer VR. Kite & Lightning has done this in the past as well, producing experiences for GM and Lionsgate.
Elhassan was quick to praise the company’s past clients for fully embracing the medium. “They were getting it,” he said. But Elhassan also argued that too often, brands just try to jump onto the VR bandwagon because everyone else is doing it. “It’s been a bit if a fad,” he said, adding: “Every company wants to check that checkbox. It’s a bit worrisome.”