TOKYO - Production company AOI Pro has entered the world of commercial virtual reality (VR) content, with the establishment of an office in Silicon Valley and the development of a baseball-themed piece of entertainment.
A spokesperson for the company told Campaign that the office did not currently have any full time staff, but that personnel will travel between Silicon Valley and Tokyo. The opening of the office is a statement of intent more than anything: AOI Pro says it plans to “make a full-fledged plunge into the VR/AR business”. The company will seek alliances to combine creativity with technological innovation, it said in a statement.
AOI Pro’s spokesperson said that “video and film have become something to truly experience rather than just to watch”. The first piece of work from this new direction, ‘VR Dream Match—Baseball’, was created in collaboration with Bascule, a Japanese digital agency. Bascule led the programming, while AOI Pro contributed the visual production. The two companies will jointly own the software.
The product aims to give people the experience of playing against professionals via a head-mounted display. The gameplay is based on data from actual baseball games in the US and Japan, which is used to recreate the speed, rotation and trajectory of a ball when it is pitched.
AOI Pro said it aims to differentiate its VR content from much of what already exists by being more easily understandable. The baseball game is set for release as an attraction at selected events in November. Distribution will initially be limited to booths at events, but the spokesperson said there are plans to release a simplified version for purchase by the general public at a later date.
AOI Pro plans to refine the game to allow people to play against each other, and use data in partnership with US and Japanese teams to help players enhance their skills. In the near future, AOI Pro said it expects to be able to “recreate data from regular games almost in real-time”.
With consumers becoming ever more visually-oriented, production companies are arguably in a better position than advertising agencies to innovate in the field of emerging technology such as VR. While AOI Pro’s core business is still the production of TV commercials, it expects this area to quickly become a bigger part of its activities.
“The value added through this type of experiential content will continue to grow, leading to new types of business opportunities,” the spokesperson said.