Owlchemy Labs and Google join forces for the future of VR

Today is a REAAAALLY BIG day for Owlchemy. We’re positively thrilled to announce that Owlchemy Labs has been acquired by Google!

Continuing Owlchemy’s journey
We set out on a journey over six years ago to build the kinds of games we wanted to see exist. Over those years, we learned that Owlchemy, at its core, cares deeply about a few key things: building quality multi-platform games, solving tough problems with a small but absurdly talented team, sharing our learnings with the community, and Austin’s famous tacos. Now, as we look to the future with Google by our side, we couldn’t be happier. Our plan to build awesome things will continue forward stronger than ever.

This means Owlchemy will continue building high quality VR content for platforms like the HTC Vive, Oculus Touch, and PlayStation VR. This means continuing to focus on hand interactions and high quality user experiences, like with Job Simulator. This means continuing our mission to build VR for everyone, and doing all of this as the same silly Owlchemy Labs you know and love. We are continuing to do all of this with even more support and focus on building awesome stuff. It’s incredibly exciting that Google and Owlchemy are so well aligned on our goals and vision for the future of VR.

A parliament of Owls

Humble beginnings
Looking back on the past couple of years, it’s honestly pretty crazy to think about the humble beginnings of Owlchemy, growing from a team of 4 to a parliament of 23 owls today! Statistically, most small studios that work incredibly hard and make amazing things still go out of business after their first or second title. We simply wanted to make absurd and highly polished experiences that made enough money to support the development of the next one.

We eventually started to crest the hump with some success (thanks to our old school Owlchemy fans!) and we began to gravitate as a team toward solving tough problems instead of shying away from them (like more reasonable people would). VR acted as an electromagnet for our science-focused brains as it presented us with the most expansive field of untapped potential and tough unsolved problems. Once we dipped our toes into the VR waters in the early DK1 days, we quickly vowed to never look back and build a flat-screen game again, and to jump headfirst into the awesome potential of VR. The studio was hooked and we’d found our stride.

Finding success in VR
Job Simulator was our overnight success many years in the making. We pushed in VR so early and so hard that we were repeatedly told we were crazy, but we knew that we would never be satisfied by making a “safe bet”. We ignored the cries of “But VR died in the 90s!” and we instead spent over a year envisioning what was possible with a tracked head and hands. After a ton of experimenting and prototyping, we emerged with Job Simulator as a day one launch title for HTC Vive, Oculus + Touch, and PlayStation VR.

Job Simulator

We were honored to win multiple awards for our gameplay and interaction in Job Simulator, and we were elated to see the game become the go-to VR title to showcase the medium’s potential (and for folks to finally learn how to JOB)! Our work didn’t stop there. Seeing a strong need to show VR to everyone, we pioneered a new way to show VR footage with Spectator Mode and built out a new depth-based mixed reality technique. By the time we launched Rick and Morty VR, thousands of streamers were sharing their gameplay to millions of fans around the world on launch day.

Building a great partnership
Owlchemy Labs makes things that are absurd, highly polished, and filled to the brim with terrible puns & jokes that we love making. We both believe that VR is the most accessible computing platform and that there’s a ton of work to be done, especially with regards to natural and intuitive interactions. Together with Google, with which we share an incredible overlap in vision, we’re free to pursue raw creation and sprint toward interesting problems in these early days of VR.

To the future!
Thanks so much to our fans who have been smuggling stuffed animals, chopping logs, surviving on desert islands, and jobbing with us over the years, and a special thanks to our investors and partners who believed in us early on. It’s because of you and your support that we are where we are today. We’re insanely excited to join the Google family and we cannot freaking wait to show you what we’re concocting next at Owlchemy Labs. The future of VR is extremely bright, so we’re donning our lab goggles just in case. 😉

– Alex, Devin, and the entire Owlchemy Labs team

P.S. Check out Google’s blog post here!