Owlchemy Labs gets a job at Google


— 4:00 PM on May 11, 2017

It's a good day for creators of virtual-reality workplace simulations and transdimensional hijinks. Wait—come to think of it, there might only be one company like that. That company is Owlchemy Labs, and it's definitely having a good day, as it's just been acquired by Google.

Founded in 2010, Owlchemy Labs is best known for its VR games. Job Simulator, a first-day launch title for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR, puts players into a world where nobody works, thus only learning about the old workplace in a "simulator." The game was well received, and the company's follow-up title also garnered praise: Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-Ality, a game that puts players into a brief but memorable adventure in the world of the popular Adult Swim cartoon.

Gamers might remember these titles primarily for their absurd sense of humor, but Google publicly praised Owlchemy Labs for creating natural-feeling experiences that are responsive and intuitive. Google will almost certainly want the newly-acquired studio to develop similar titles for its own VR platform. The internet search giant doesn't seem to be limiting the platforms for which Owlchemy Labs will develop, though, as the studio claims that it will continue to build content for the HTC Vive, Oculus Touch, and PlayStation VR.

Looking at the long term, this acquisition might suggest what Google has in mind for the future of its VR hardware. Owlchemy Labs made its name with products that make extensive and novel use of touch controllers. Google's Daydream View headset comes with a controller, but it's much more limited than those that ship with the HTC Vive. If Google wants users to play Virtual Rick-Ality on its own devices, it'll need to have a new trick or two up its sleeve.

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