Columbus Startup Breaks New Ground in Cloud-based Virtual Reality Gaming
Objective Reality Games is an Ohio-based company that creates cloud-based content for virtual reality (VR) games—but like so many startups, that’s not how this young company started.
As co-founders, Colin Rose and Sara Rose launched the business as a “bricks and mortar” virtual reality storefront. Virtual reality gaming rooms are not arcades or video games. They are adventures that players experience via virtual reality headsets, for example, Oculus or HTC. With virtual reality, players feel as if l they are actually living the experience—experiences would be far too dangerous or simply impossible to live in real life.
“Ubisoft, a multi-billion-dollar video gaming company, based in Europe, was building out virtual reality escape rooms on the West Coast,” said Colin Rose. “I reached out to ask their developers if they would be interested in opening virtual reality escape rooms here, and they said yes.”
Rose, who had made his career as an entrepreneur, found a storefront in Chillicothe. “We went to the bank,” he said, “and took out a $75,000 loan to build the virtual reality space.”
Then COVID happened, and like so many other storefront businesses, Sara and Colin Rose, co-founders of Objective Reality, shuttered their Escape Room site.
“We were so new, we didn’t qualify for the PPE,” said Rose, “so we had to get creative and figure out how to make revenue when people couldn’t come into our store.”
Pandemic Pivot Becomes Permanent
“We did research,” Rose said, “and found an option to allow users to stream VR games from a PC in our storefront into users’ homes. The software company authorized us to use their virtual streaming software commercially, and people who lived around our storefront to download the software, connect to servers in the store, and play from home.”
The pieced-together solution reached points within about a 50-mile radius of the servers at the store. Rose gained first-hand experience with potential customers and the in-home market for virtual reality gaming.
As restrictions were lifted, some gamers returned to the storefront experience. However, just as employees learned they liked working from home, virtual reality players had developed an appetite for gaming from their living rooms.
A friend in IT and cloud computing asked Rose what he thought about putting virtual reality games in the cloud. Ever an entrepreneur who creates through connections, Rose reached out to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and InVideo™.
“A little over a year-and-a-half later,” Rose said, “we have developed our gaming app. We have a platform in the AWS cloud, and we are streaming content. We’ve been in the industry for a few years and have partnerships with different developers, and are currently delivering the arcade experience to the at-home user. That sets us apart. We have traction so far. Our goal is to keep innovating and driving forward.”