LOS ANGELES — Soon, people won’t have to go outside to play a physical game of basketball.
what you need to know
- IRL Studios receives $8 million to continue developing virtual reality basketball game Gym Class VR
- Gym Class VR allows players to channel their inner basketball player using a virtual reality headset and joystick controller
- Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz provided the investment
- IRL Studios announced it would use the money to further develop the game.
By donning a pair of virtual reality headsets and keeping a pair of controllers in their home, the Santa Monica-based company has created a game that allows players to channel their inner LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard in the metaverse, where everything is possible.
Gym Class VR, available on Meta’s App Lab, brings players together in a virtual world to play virtual basketball against other players in different locations around the world and still get the same type of community and physical training.
“Our goal is to create a digital sport and a digital basketball superstar,” said Paul Katson, co-founder and chief product officer of IRL Studios, creators of Gym Class, in an interview with Spectrum News.
IRL Studios is one step closer to making it happen.
With Gym Class VR garnering over 64 million views on TikTok from gamers sharing its content on social media, the company recently raised $8 million in a seed round to further develop the game for the Metaverse. collect more.
Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and other angel investors provided the money.
In a press release, Andreessen Horowitz executives said that this virtual reality game marks the beginning of a new digital age.
“We are confident that games, virtual worlds and digital games will be the new social networks,” said Andrew Chen, partner at Andreessen Horowitz, in a press release. “Physical education marks the beginning of digital sports. It has the traction to unlock the true potential of Social VR and the right team behind it. We firmly believe in the vision and the team that has already proven itself in physical education classes. Admittedly, he has a huge audience and opportunities.”
Developed in 2020 by a group of basketball-loving tech industry friends as a side hustle, physical education classes were a way for a group of friends to replicate the sense of community they experienced on a basketball court.
Katson, who is originally from Chicago and lives in Austin, said the basketball court was where he rested, relaxed and caught up with friends.
Though social media is designed to bring people together, Katson said many social products are becoming less social these days.
So he and his colleagues focused on creating a game that could bring people together in a virtual world at the same time.
The crew developed Gym Class VR in late 2020 and had a prototype the following year.
There are multiple modes in the game once the player enters. There is a shootout mode, passing practice or playing in an open space. The player can play in a public square and invite friends to a game of one or three against three. The player can also create and customize the avatar.
Unlike traditional basketball video games, where players sit on a couch and control their virtual selves with their thumbs on a handheld controller, players with virtual reality headsets and joystick controllers are often required to mimic basketball movements. Is.
In order to jump, a player must bend down and straighten their legs.
In order to shoot, a player must imitate the actual shot.
“It’s a workout and it burns hundreds of calories,” he said.
The free game is available on Meta/Oculus’ AppLab with nearly a million downloads.
With the additional investment money, Catson plans to expand the community and add more features like creating leagues and fitness content.
“We plan to launch it in Oculus stores this fall,” he said.
The main complaint he hears from people about virtual reality is that it doesn’t replace the real experience. If people want to play basketball, they should just go outside.
But Katson sees it differently. People usually can’t play basketball after dark or until 3am
“The reality is we don’t compete with people who go out and gamble,” he said. “What we’re doing is improving their digital experience.”