Archangel is Skydance Interactive’s flagship debut VR title from the studio, available on Playstation VR and HTC Vive, Oculus in August. During San Diego Comic Con, I spoke to Skydance Interactive President, Peter Akemann about Archangel and how it hopes to succeed in this new frontier for video games.
Skydance Interactive is hedging its bets on the VR market for its success and the studio is a recent introduction to this space, having acquired The Workshop Entertainment to create new and original video games as well as virtual reality games. As a wholly owned subsidiary of the production studio, the team at Skydance was given the mandate to develop new and exciting experiences for an audience that’s still in its growing stages. “This was a big bet for us,” says Akemann. “The market didn’t exist yet so it took a company with some vision, ingenuity, and skills to execute and deliver a real game on that platform.”
Archangel’s focus on delivering blockbuster entertainment, world building, and storytelling is clearly aligned with Skydance’s DNA and from our preview it certainly looks to deliver on its ambitions by delivering the sense of scale as a human sized person inside a giant mech. “It’s that sense of scale that is the magical thing. That you never really lose the sense that you’re a little dude inside a huge machine,” said Akemann.
In crafting an original IP for an uncertain market, there’s a certain challenge venturing in uncharted territory under circumstances like these. “I think we had an advantage. I didn’t have to compete with Titanfall directly. There is no Titanfall in VR, no Mechwarrior in VR. We had a chance to create new ground, create a new kind of game that delivers an experience that none of the other ones have done previously,” Akemann explained.
Despite the studio being relatively new, Skydance Interactive already has an established footprint thanks to the film and entertainment industry roots of Skydance Media and its CEO, David Ellison. “David Ellison was committed from the beginning that interactive was going to stand on its own,” says Akemann. “He respects games as a commercial creative medium, and not a derivative product of film and television businesses.”
“The sensibilities that are behind Skydance, the big ticket entertainment, the commitment to world building, the commitment to storytelling. We are enormously influenced on Archangel. That let us have the resources and effort, it was part of the bet to build out a big, rich world.”
As for Peter Akemann, VR is an exciting development in his storied gaming career. Being part of the advent of 3D hardware and software, virtual reality represents an uncharted frontier filled with new possibilities especially for those seasoned veterans of the industry. “You see anecdotes of people like the fact that John Carmack is sitting there. This is the guy that helped create 3D in the first place and now he’s jumping in on it. You got Mike Abrash, his partner that helped create Quake. These two guys are working on the VR fundamentals. I was there when those guys were designing 3D. Now I’m here and these guys are helping to define VR.”
“It’s a life spent in this innovation, frontier, cutting edge, it’s kind of addictive. When an opportunity like that comes up, you take it.”