ZeroTransform, Bend’s only virtual reality game studio, has named a chief operating officer, secured venture funding and released its first virtual reality video game for the mass market in the past year.
“It’s been quite a journey, being able to handle the business side of things,” said founder Justin Moravetz.
Founded in 2014 as a specialized studio producing games specifically for virtual reality platforms, ZeroTransform has largely stayed under the radar as the virtual reality industry developed.
Virtual reality has been the subject of lofty economic projections in the past. According to the digital analytics firm Digi-Capital, virtual and augmented reality is projected to generate $120 billion by 2020. In 2016, new virtual reality platforms, such as the Oculus Rift by Oculus VR, and the Vive by the HTC Corp., have flooded the market. Others, including the Sony PlayStation VR and Google Daydream, will be out later this year.
As a result. ZeroTransform has sought funding that would allow the company to grow without sacrificing its game design. Today, ZeroTransform has six full-time employees, as well as several freelancers, and has three virtual reality games at various stages of completion. Moravetz said ZeroTransform’s latest game, a rhythm-based game titled “Pulsar Arena,” will be released for Oculus VR in December.
“This is the first Christmas season with big-scale VR,” Moravetz said. “And with that, we’re going to see a lot more content. And staying on top of that, and staying in front of that, is something we’ve been working really hard on.”
Gary Spinrad, audio director for ZeroTransform, said Moravetz’s passion for virtual reality and focus on user experience sets ZeroTransform apart from other studios making games for the new medium. Where most game developers start with the controller and work outward, many of ZeroTransform’s games can be played without using a controller at all.
“The fact is, he thinks in (virtual reality),” Spinrad said.
Moravetz knew that growing the company meant attracting outside investment. Last fall, ZeroTransform went through FoundersPad, a Bend-based accelerator for startups that brings industry mentors in to advise companies. Moravetz was paired up with Scot Bayless, a veteran of the video game industry who joined ZeroTransform in March as the company’s chief operating officer.
“He is the veteran of the business side of games,” Spinrad said of Bayless. “So he has seen every step that the industry has gone through, and I believe virtual reality is one of those.”
Bayless added that the company is hoping to complete a $500,000 funding round by the end of November. The Bend venture fund Cascade Angels Fund announced an investment in the company in late August, though the total was not disclosed.
The company’s first game, “Proton Pulse,” a virtual reality game designed to resemble classic arcade games, is available for several platforms.
ZeroTransform’s third and most elaborate project, a fast-paced action game titled “Vanguard V” that allows players to travel from the orbit of a planet to that planet’s core, is still under construction, Moravetz said.
“‘Vanguard V’ was a project bigger than myself,” he said.
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