Jan ‘Split’ Ilavsky, founder of Beat Games and creator behind VR’s favorite block-slashing rhythm game Beat Saber (2018), left the studio late last month, stepping down from his position as the game’s Creative Director. Now, Ilavsky tells Road to VR he’s taking an extended break from VR altogether.

After creating one of VR’s most successful games financially to date, which generated over $100 million in revenue in 2021 alone, it’s safe to say Ilavsky deserves a break.

Jan ‘Split’ Ilavsky

Speaking to Road to VR, Ilavsky says he doesn’t have “any big plans ready now,” saying that he “most probably won’t be doing any VR for some time.”

“The last six years have been an amazing ride,” Ilavsky said on X. “When I created the first prototype of Beat Saber, I thought it might be just another small solo project, similar to some of the games I had made before. However, something felt different this time.”

First demoed publicly at GDC 2018, it was clear the Czechia-based studio had something special in their hands. Back then, the indie studio was still running under the name Hyperbolic Magnetism, although it wasn’t long before it adopted the moniker Beat Games, which was right around the time it was acquired by Meta (ex-Facebook) for an undisclosed sum.

Daft Punk Music Pack for 'Beat Saber' Arrives Alongside Haptics Improvements on Quest

Launching with music created by composer and DJ Jaroslav Beck in 2018, who also recently left the company, Meta’s deep pockets and industry contacts transformed the viral sensation into a revenue-generating powerhouse, striking deals with record labels to bring to the game music from a host of artists, including LizzoSkrillexBTSGreen DayTimbalandLinkin ParkImagine Dragons, and more recently Daft Punk.

While Ilavsky is taking a break from VR, he would eventually like to return to his roots: “working on innovative games,” he says. “The game industry is a challenging place to be, and I couldn’t be more grateful for all the experiences I’ve had and the amazing people I’ve met along the way.”

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • gothicvillas

    In other words, he is taking a break from facebook

  • Octogod

    Well deserved break!

    It always seemed a bit strange how games like AudioShield released years before Beat Saber without the same response. A few small edits here and there, a bit larger audience, more current music – and it organically bloomed into a household name.

    • Ben Lang

      It’s definitely interesting that this particular game took off where others before didn’t. I think a big part of it is that swinging a sword to slice a block is an inherently more engaging experience than simply aligning your hands to block an incoming (as is the case with Audioshield). There’s also much more interesting articulation possible when you can rotate the axis of the sword compared to rotating the ‘shields’ of Audioshield. That made more varied and interesting beat maps possible.

      But that’s not all. Other contributing factors IMO: 1) the game from the start was very well polished. They spent a lot of time to make the slicing feel both satisfying and forgiving. It was a vertical slice in the truest sense. 2) The original music out of the box was pretty solid with a few memorable tracks worth listening to outside of the game; that’s thanks to one of the co-founders having a lot of experience in music production. 3) Custom beat maps are just always going to win over auto-generated ones, especially considering the range of complex motions that can be made with a sword.

      • Octogod

        Well said!

        I also think being paired as part of the Vive dev kit ultimately hurt AudioShield. The core user never paid and couldn’t rate the game.

        The use of black backgrounds, shiny objects, and neon lights was also a smart art move by Beat Saber. It’s stylistically more interesting, while also playing to VR’s strengths.

  • Nevets

    A break? They’ve fed off a single, technically uncomplicated game for over half a decade! They should be fizzing with energy and ideas for propagating the medium, not dying of fatigue.

  • NL_VR

    Unbelievable no naysayers come in and claim VR is dying. They could have use this as gas for their fire

    • NicoleJsd

      People know there is more to this than dying vs not dying black and white. This isn’t Reddit after all

    • Traph

      This departure isn’t really a surprise if you look at Beat Games pre and post acquisition. Clearly a lot of middle managing going on keeping the devs from improving the game rather than endlessly churning out song packs. No official custom map support on Quest, despite being promised. Only new block types were basically official versions of arcs that the community hacked together long ago. Etc.

      The only “VR is dying” angle one could take on this news is to claim that BeatSaber would be a better game today if FB hadn’t bought them. And honestly, that’s probably true.