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Crytek doubles down on Virtual Reality with ‘VR First’ developer initiative

Crytek has pivoted more than almost any game developer on the planet in the last few years. The creators of the AAA shooter franchises Far Cry and Crysis transitioned to a free-to-play future, shut down its UK studio, and abruptly stopped development on the upcoming Homefront: The Revolution (the game was, luckily, saved by publisher Deep Silver.) Now, the company is putting all of its energy into virtual reality, and its “VR First” program seeks to empower future developers to do the same.

“‘VR First’ is an initiative that will lead the way in virtual reality by seeding grassroots VR development, developing strong partnerships, and building communities around the world,” the announcement video says.

The program launches today in Turkey, at Bahçesehir University, which Crtyek calls a “pilot destination.” Each partnered institution will give students access to VR headsets, computers, and Crytek’s CRYENGINE software.

Related: Hands on: The Climb

“VR First will generate momentum and enthusiasm at grassroots level for VR development across a range of different fields,” the narrator continues. It appears that Crytek does not want to limit its VR development to just gaming, as the video also focuses on the technology’s application in medicine and architecture.

While more “traditional” games like Crysis may be in Crytek’s rearview mirror, the company may have finally found its calling with VR. Its game The Climb has drawn considerable attention, and we praised its realistic, fear-inducing gameplay; even in a virtual world, climbing up the side of a cliff can be terrifying.

But that’s not the only VR game the company has in store. Robinson: The Journey, a mystery-adventure game, will be making its way to PlayStation VR. I’m curious to see whether the VR First program supports PlayStation development — the “hardware partners” section of the program’s website is currently blank, suggesting that the use of “pilot” to describe the launch in Turkey is quite accurate.