Clifton Dawson, CEO of Greenlight Insights, is an analyst who covers digital disruption and how today’s company are transforming their business models to deliver next-gen experiences through virtual and augmented reality technology. Follow him: @AskClifton.

Last month, Google acquired Austin-based Owlchemy Labs, the popular VR game studio behind such popular gaming titles as Job Simulator and Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality.

Founded in 2010, Owlchemy Labs raised $5 million in seed funding from prominent VR-centric venture capital funds Colopl VR Fund, Capital Factory, and The Venture Reality Fund, as well as strategic investors HTC and Qualcomm Ventures.

While Google has a relatively long track record of investing in VR content studios (See Google's 2013 acquisition of Tilt Brush), the rationale for the acquisition is notable. According to a statement by Google’s engineering director of VR and AR, Relja Markovic, the Owlchemy acquisition enables Google to develop new interaction models across many different platforms and continue to bring the best VR experiences to life. (Read full blog post here.)


The Art of Building, Sharing, Shipping, and Sustaining VR Content
Owlchemy Labs excelled by not only overcoming the technical challenges of developing high-quality, original VR titles for multiple first-generation platforms but by embracing the business challenges as well.

Owlchemy Labs CEO Alex Schwartz

In a talk given at GDC 2017 titled, 'Job Simulator' Postmortem: VR Design, Tech, and Business Lessons Learned', Owlchemy Labs CEO Alex Schwartz noted the importance the importance of considering aspects such as demo-ability, pricing strategy, and the trailer creation, as well as the design variations between platforms. Schwartz also explained their unique approach to designing prototypes and how iteration leads to their final products.

Owlchemy Labs succeeded in an interaction model that helps a user achieve environmental presence, which is the perception that a virtual environment exists and that the user is present within it (Carassa, Morganti and Tirassa, 2005). Environmental presence depends upon the effectiveness of the interactions between the participant and the virtual space (Zimmerli and Verschure, 2007). Owlchemy Labs demonstrated their ability to achieve a high-level level of interaction in Job Simulator. Now Google will look to bring that same capability to experiences.