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Google Daydream is looking for the ‘Citizen Kane’ of VR games

Google's Jamil Moledina at GamesBeat 2016.

Google wants to help redefine what a game is when it comes to virtual reality.

The tech giant is preparing to launch Daydream, a new “high-quality” VR platform for Android-powered mobile devices, this fall. And it’s hoping to make its growing portfolio of games as exciting and as broadly appealing as possible. Jamil Moledina, Google’s strategic lead for games, took the stage at the GamesBeat 2016 conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, to expand on the company’s philosophy and goals for Daydream.

Moledina said they’re “not looking for existing games with a VR wrapper.” He compared these early days of VR to the way filmmaking evolved in the early 20th century, when movies were just short, one-minute experiences. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that it became more sophisticated with special effects, editing, and different camera angles. The celebrated 1941 film Citizen Kane, in particular, redefined the then-nascent medium.

“In the same way, we’re aiming to populate our [Daydream] portfolio with games that transcend what came before,” said Moledina. Google wants the “Citizen Kane of VR.”

Creating new types of games is an important part of Google’s strategy to ease people into VR — Moledina called it “low-friction VR.” The company wants to make the process of using Daydream as simple as possible. Every Daydream-supported headset comes with a wireless motion controller, so the only thing people will need is the Android phone they might already own.

A number of different developers have already signed up to support the platform, including Epic Games, Ubisoft, Electronic Arts (it’s making a new entry in the Need for Speed franchise), and CCP Games (working on a new version of the Gear VR game Gunjack). Daydream’s launch games will cover a variety of different genres.

To date, the company has shipped more than 5 million Google Cardboard viewers, the bare-bones VR headset it released in 2014. That success makes Google confident in Daydream’s potential. And according to Moledina, the Google Play app store continues to be the “largest store for digital content.”

He ended his talk by saying “games are a big deal at Google,” and that developers on the team are trying to help move the industry forward.

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