Launch Pad Startup Case Study - AltaVR
A Township Tale is the first virtual reality game to create a complex world that is social and where fantasy seems to remind us of our most human quality - empathy.
Developed by AltaVR, this is a multiplayer virtual reality game that is based on real life in a rural town in a different era. A Township Tale is a fantasy world where the player takes on a role as a fantasy character that lives and acts as the player chooses. The player becomes immersed in a fantasy world where they are able to respond and act as they choose to.
The team started A Township Tale on its own, to later join Muru-D, the Telstra accelerator, before joining Startup SydWest in 2018.
There are many interactive games on the market but very few multi-player VR games where players from all over the world can interact. The types of games that use virtual reality include small-scale games such as ping pong. Nothing more complex has been developed, until now.
A Township Tale is different because of the immersive experience it provides. You forget about everything; you could even run into a wall before being stopped. With A Township Tale the experience is very physical, leading to a very different kind of play. You could literally pick up something and throw it to another person to catch.
A Township Tale is a new category in itself. A virtual reality game, a bit like dungeons and dragons where everyone has a role. One that is quite dynamic and evolves as you go. The developer explains that it clearly is a fantasy role that he likes to think is similar to The Lord of the Rings where there are monsters and magic, but there is also the mundane. Clearly, there must be farming in that world as well. So, in this world, you can knit a bag and sell it, you can throw something at someone and they can catch it. You can also decide to be a thief and organise a gang. However, the virtual reality element of this game where you stare face to face at your opponent before the take down has seen players compassion rise, and thus collaboration at a large scale is much more common than destructive behaviour.
A Township Tale during pre-alpha has a few different servers to choose from based in Australia, US and Europe. There are no fixed objectives in A Township Tale. You might wish to become the best blacksmith the town has seen. You might wish to get the strongest weapons and equipment. Or maybe you want to dive into the dangerous depths of the mines.
Although this game was developed for the sake of fun, it has evolved into a deeply empathetic experience. One that could teach players how to socialize in a future world that is predicted to be abundant in technology and lack in empathy.
A Township Tale went open to play at start of last year. It has since evolved into a community of over 17,500 people. The strategy to attract players for the beta version is for users to join the chat and from their they can download the launcher.
The original team of three has been working on A Township Tale for two years and a half and now has a team of six full time employees and three part time employees. Township Tale has since attracted the attention of half a dozen investors.
A Township Tale currently has two approaches to generating income. Firstly, by supporting, which is a monthly fee with various perks (such as discounts, currency income, etc.). Secondly, by purchasing currency in the store to spend on weapons and tools.
A Township Tale is not marketing at the moment but developing the game for the longer term. Being virtual reality it is intrinsically exclusive. However, there are about 400 people playing per day, enough to allow the development team to detect and fix bugs. The team wants to build a dedicated audience the audience to want to play a game that they have been waiting to play for a while.
Joining the Startup SydWest accelerator program at Launch Pad in 2018 has enabled the startup to continue the incredibly hard work of developing the game and ironing out any bugs. LaunchPad has provided free space and a community of startups from whom they can receive feedback on their own ideas.
Township Tale recently won a Chinese gaming competition as the most promising Virtual Reality Game, and in December 2016 it was at PAX in Melbourne, where Australia’s biggest games are showcased. It was one of the most popular games. People queued for hours to play a short demo and gave overwhelmingly positive feedback.
Although there is a small audience now and there are not many investors in Virtual Reality, it is only a matter of time until the world knows of this unique Virtual Reality game.
All of this makes A Township Tale a category of its own.