Early adopters of Samsung’s forthcoming Gear VR headset are in for a treat. The creator of Darknet has announced that the full version of the award-winning game will initially launch for free on Gear VR.
After the announcement of Samsung’s Gear VR in early September, Darknet developer E McNeil was revealed as one of a select number of developers who had early access to prototypes of the device. He’d decided to create a version of Darknet for the mobile platform and used the prototype to work on an optimized port of the game.
It was revealed at last month’s Oculus Connect developer conference that Oculus Home, the app store for Gear VR, would not have a monetization component—allowing developers to charge for content—ready in time for the launch of the headset.
Today McNeil is announcing that he’ll be pushing ahead and releasing the full version of Darknet for free initially.
“Essentially, I’m making a risky game for a risky platform with a risky launch strategy. But I don’t think it’s completely insane,” McNeil told me.
McNeil says that many other developers are only releasing demos of their titles or delaying their release entirely until Oculus Home delivers the ability to charge for content. He’s opting to release the full version of Darknet on day one as a free gift to early adopters. The price of the game will be $10 once the store supports paid content.
As for the desktop version of Darknet, McNeil says he’s planning to wait to launch the game until the first consumer version of the Oculus Rift (CV1) is available which is expected in 2015.
McNeil has revealed new screenshots of the latest development version of Darknet:
McNeil began the development of the game, formerly called Ciess, early on in the Oculus Rift’s lifecycle. The game debuted as an entry in the 2013 ‘VR Jam’, a game development contest hosted by Oculus and IndieCade. It was just over a year ago that Ciess nabbed the top prize in the contest, netting McNeil $10,000 in cash, airfare and lodging to IndieCade 2013, a trip to meet the Oculus team at the company’s headquarters, a coupon for submission to IndieCade 2014, and a limited edition shirt.
Since then, McNeil has continued development on the title, renaming it Darknet back in March, 2014. The game has evolved significantly, both aesthetically and mechanically, since the Ciess days, but it’s retained its Tron-like cyberspace hacker feel. See two trailers from different stages of the game’s development below:
Ciess, August 2013 (left). Darknet, October 2014 (right).
Last month, Darknet continued its award-winning trend as winner of the Best Gameplay category at the inaugural Proto Awards. The title was also nominated for three other categories including Best GUI, Best Art Direction, and Best Overall.