A lot of years ago, streaming giant Netflix started developing a dedicated app for watching its shows in virtual reality (VR). Netflix recently released Netflix’s First VR Game Eden Unearthed, an Oculus Quest videogame based on the anime series Eden, which requires an update or two. The Netflix launch is an unusual one due to the content and multiple app instances. Though we’re glad Netflix continues to invest in VR – perhaps thanks to the acquisition of Oculus veteran Mike Verdu.
VR Games Are Trending Sooner Than Expected
Video games may be coming soon to Netflix. Its Oculus Quest game, Netflix’s First VR Game Eden Unearthed, has been quietly being worked on without much fanfare. Known as UploadVR, the game is available through the App Lab, which means it hasn’t been through the entire Oculus review process. Besides stating both its development and publication by Netflix, the listing does not provide any other clues as to its origin.
Based on what we can tell, it was almost certainly intended to be a tie-in for the Eden anime series that was released in May. I find it interesting that the app has been released in two versions with different release dates. Releases of v0.7 and v0.8 occurred on April 20th and August 28th, respectively. Netflix is still working on the game, given the App Lab listing and that fact.
At this point, it’s hard to tell whether Netflix will continue releasing video games in the future. Mike Verdu, an executive in Oculus and EA, helped build the company’s gaming team in July. As Bloomberg reported at the time, the company planned to extend its video offerings to games within the next year.
What makes it interesting
It will be interesting to see how the push towards VR will affect Netflix’s future content, including interactive experiences. In VR headsets, films like You vs. Wild or Escape the Undertaker change the way we interact, and Netflix understands this very well. Netflix continues to develop its gaming content, so hopefully, we’ll see more VR games and experiences.
Netflix started in its 2021 2Q shareholder letter back in July. It stated that gaming as a new content category, similar to the expansion into original films, animation, and unscripted TV.
Those unfamiliar with Eden, the show tells the story of two maintenance robots who accidentally awaken a human baby girl from stasis and secretly raise her outside the walls of their city. The series directed by Yasuhiro Irie. Netflix has the first four episodes of the show available.
The future of the game
The game (and the anime it relates to) takes place in the far future, in a world ruled by robots and void of humans. Play this futuristic motorbike game in which you ride around a vast and changing landscape, collecting apples as fuel and avoiding obstacles to maximize your speed. A short burst of narration advances the story as you pull up beside landmarks along the way, while visuals on a portable screen show them on your bike.
The story and gameplay structure of this game are very loose – you can both follow a narrative and also race along the track as long as you can without running out of fuel for a global high score.
In addition to the motorbike, the experience meant to be simple and perhaps educational as well as fun. At high speeds, the bike is extremely thrilling to ride because it controls extremely well. I find the control system to be simple and intuitive, and it has also designed to be comfortable. It helps to have the motorbike cockpit behind you while turning sharp corners, as does the subtle vignetting.
After playing Netflix’s First VR Game Eden Unearthed for 15 minutes, it’s difficult to determine the project’s scope and aim, but it feels somewhere between a game, immersive narrative, and educational tool.
Netflix may be working on many more VR projects this year – former Facebook VR Content Head Mike Verdu is now working for the company, as is producer Shonda Rhimes, who also might be making VR shows.
The Oculus Quest App Lab makes Eden Unearthed available. More information will be coming soon.
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