Virtuix, the company behind the virtual-reality treadmill, Omni, has announced a partnership with Chinese game publisher Hero Entertainment. Responsible for enormously popular shooters like Crisis Action, the Chinese game firm is looking to install a number of VR arcade setups around the country, with the Omni as a focal piece of hardware.
The companies won’t be stopping there, though. They’re also looking to push physical esports, utilizing the treadmill to drive first-person shooter competition that also requires real physical exertion.
Hero Entertainment already has a foot in that door thanks to the popularity of some of its games. It also has an affiliate, Hero Sports, which owns and operates the Hero Pro League, China’s biggest mobile Esports league. Virtuix will partner directly with that entity for esports promotion, providing hardware and expertise to help grow the physical esports scene.
Using Hero’s already strong influence within China, the pair of companies have already secured a buyer for Omni hardware. UNIS, the supplier for much of the country’s arcade amusement machines, has pledged to purchase between 5,000 and 10,000 Omni treadmills in order to install them in arcades, malls, and entertainment locations.
“We believe that virtual reality will take off faster and become bigger in China than anywhere else,” said Jan Goetgeluk, Virtuix’s founder and CEO. “With the Hero deal, we are teaming up with China’s premier FPS developer. Their content combined with our Omni motion platform provides an unbeatable Active VR experience that we predict will take the China market by storm.”
Virtuix is further embedding itself in the Chinese marketplace, having received “strategic investment,” from Chinese electronic manufacturer Leyard, which will perhaps aid in manufacturing, but more specifically will be able to help install Omni’s in some of the country’s entertainment centers and theme parks where it already has a presence.
Investments from outside sources have seen Virtuix raise over $6 million in recent months, and now with its partners in China it is expected to expand its capabilities quite dramatically. However it is still a long way off from meeting all production needs. In a chat with Goetgeluk, we learned that there is still a near six-month waiting list for those ordering the treadmill.
While catching up with that backlog is important, Goetgeluk said that moving forward, Virtuix planned to refine the design of the Omni, making it lighter, more robust, and if possible, cheaper.