Tokyo Game Show is the first big gaming event that is being held in virtual reality: this is quite a milestone for immersive technologies, and we hope it will be the first of a long series. It is free for everyone to enjoy these days (until October, 3rd 2021) and the first reviews talk about a very interesting fair to visit.
This virtual world has been created by a Japanese company called “ambr” that has curated all the exhibition, including the development of the virtual world on a proprietary platform called “xambr”. Since here in the West we know almost nothing about this company, I thought it could have been very interesting to talk directly with them, and let you all discover this group of people that has reached such an important result. So here you are my interview with Tomoko Ushiro, PR of ambr, Inc. about her company and the Tokyo Game Show in VR!
Hello Tomoko, Can you introduce yourself to my readers?
Hello everyone! I am Tomoko and I work at ambr, Inc., a Virtual Reality Creative Studio based in Tokyo, Japan.
My main responsibility there is Public Relations, so I often write blog posts and respond to media requests for interviews. However, since we are a startup company, many of us are in charge of lots of different tasks, and speaking of TOKYO GAME SHOW VR 2021 (TGSVR2021), I myself also supervised the English translation of the application.
Can you tell us something about your company ambr, Inc.?
ambr, Inc. is a Virtual Reality Creative Studio based in Tokyo that creates virtual spaces. The company was established in 2018. So far, we have developed our own VRSNS [VR Social Networked Space, I guess] “virtual world ambr” and virtual spaces for enterprises. Main investors to our company include ANRI, a top-tier venture capital, and Dentsu Group, the largest advertising and media conglomerate in Japan.
You have announced that the Tokyo Game Show is going to be hosted on your platform “xambr”. What is xambr?
Since its foundation, ambr has specialized in the creation of virtual spaces, represented by the VRSNS “virtual world ambr” project and the VR creative studio business for corporations. Through this process, we have accumulated enough experience and know-how, that eventually led to the creation of “xambr”.
xambr is a customizable technical platform that enables the creation and operation of the metaverse and virtual spaces. As its standard feature, xambr provides functions necessary to create metaverse and virtual spaces, allowing the efficient process of building high-quality virtual spaces. On the other hand, xambr is not a platform where you have to just put content into a fixed format. It is a platform that is designed to be customized and extended for each project.
What do you mean when you say that xambr is a “customizable platform for building the metaverse”?
Events in VR are gradually becoming more and more popular, but VR events and content on existing platforms such as VRSNS are often subject to the limitations of those platforms. However, xambr allows you to customize and build your own original application for each metaverse and virtual space. xambr makes it possible to build a metaverse based on the worldview and user experience that you are aiming for.
With our VR creative studio business, we do not only design and develop CG and systems for each project, but also design the concept of an entire project and its user experience that is unique to VR. In some cases, we also make a business plan together. In this context, xambr is a platform for realizing a virtual space that puts a user experience first and not a schedule nor efficiency of development.
The combination of ambr’s VR creative studio business and xambr will make it possible to create the world’s most advanced virtual space experiences.
Can you tell us what are some features of your platform?
Here are some features of xambr:
- Full framework to run virtual spaces for multiple players
- Multi-device and cross-play support for VR including Oculus Quest 2 and PC (Smartphone support planned)
- Infrastructure system with high customization and extensibility
- White-label product (Can build an original application)
- High-quality design and presentation of all UI, from the start screen to loading, scene transitions, and everything in between.
What’s the difference between it and similar experiences like VRChat?
VRChat is a social VR for users based on User Generated Content. If I compare it with other social media, it is like Twitter or Instagram.
xambr, on the other hand, is an infrastructure system to develop metaverse and virtual spaces specifically for businesses. To use an analogy, I think it is like a system for creating expos, stores, and CRM solutions.
What is your favorite feature of xambr and in what you should improve instead?
There are two of my favorite features of xambr. The first one is the high degree of customization. For TGSVR2021, everything from the starting scene to the UI and game system was customized specifically for the event. This is not possible when building a virtual space within an existing system such as Social VR, or when the system is not designed for scalability.
Secondly, cross-play is possible on xambr, including Oculus Quest 1&2. Despite the fact that Oculus Quest (1&2) is a great device that is rapidly gaining popularity, there are few VR events that are fully compatible with it due to the limited specs of the device. By utilizing xambr, TGSVR2021 has made it possible for people to enjoy the same content and functions on Oculus Quest 1&2 as well as PC and PCVR. As a result, the ratio of Oculus Quest users to the total participants has been surprisingly high so far!
How has the collaboration with TGS started? Did they want to do something in VR or it has been you proposing it?
The Dentsu Group, one of our shareholders, is a co-organizer of TGS 2021 ONLINE itself. The Dentsu Group and ambr planned the TGSVR2021 together from scratch and proposed it to CESA, the TGS organizing association. That is how TGSVR has started!
What can we expect as users inside the virtual reality world of TGS? How are the environments, what are the activities?
Here are the six attractive features of the dedicated TGSVR2021 app!
- Get to know the latest games. As you walk around the large venue, you’ll see the information of the latest games one after another! Enjoy the world of games as you traverse the three worlds of Wild, Urban, and Digital.
- Meet game characters. Game characters will welcome you on the VR site! Take a picture with your favorite characters and make a memory of TGSVR2021!
- Connect with global game fans. Collect over 80 “Fragments of Crystal” and dress up with your favorite games! The venue will evolve as everyone’s love for games comes together!
- Learn about the history of TGS. This year is the 25th anniversary of TGS! Let’s have fun looking back at posters and catchphrases from past TGS events. In addition to the venue entrance, there are many hidden ones!
- Watch the official TGS program together. Gather around the giant screen in the VR space and watch the official program, the main content of TGS2021 ONLINE, with your friends!
- Buy official goods. Shop for official TGS2021 merchandise in virtual space! Enjoy the store together and find your favorite goodies!
What companies will have a booth there?
There are 20 exhibitors and 22 exhibit booths, mainly from major Japanese game-related companies.
Official VR Technology Partner
eSports high TV / CAPCOM / Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san VR Project / Ministry of the Environment / GungHo Online Entertainment / KOEI TECMO GAMES / KONAMI / Survios / SQUARE ENIX / SEGA・ATLUS / DeNA / D_CIDE TRAUMEREI / VARK / BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment / Famitsu x DENGEKI / MyDearest / Wright Flyer Studios / LEVEL-5
Brogent Japan Entertainment
Are there some easter eggs inside TGS we should know about?
GAME FLOAT, the venue of TGSVR2021, has its own world and story. Gamers are asked to save GAME FLOAT by collecting 84 “Fragments of Crystal” hidden in the venue.
How can people join the TGS via xambr?
You can join from the dedicated TGSVR2021 app using Windows, Mac, Oculus Rift, HTC VIVE, and Oculus Quest 1&2.
For users of Windows, Mac, Oculus Rift, and HTC VIVE, please download from the official website (link).
For Oculus Quest 1&2 users, please search “TOKYO GAME SHOW VR 2021” in the Oculus Store (link) and install it.
You can find all the required information at this link: https://tgsvr.com/en/howto/.
There is a lot of hype now about the “metaverse”. In your opinion what is the metaverse and when will we have something similar?
I believe that the Metaverse is (1) a virtual space (2) with freedom (3) where many people can participate at the same time. In addition, there are opinions on whether or not there should be UGM [User Generated Media] or currency, and whether or not currency can be exchanged for real money, but I don’t really see the point in discussing these issues in depth. I think that Roblox and Fortnite are the most advanced examples of what is called the metaverse. I’m also not interested in discussing whether they are already metaverse or not.