Hardlight VR, the Seattle-based company that headed a successful Kickstarter campaign tasked with developing the eponymous haptic suit, is closing down this month due to lack of funding. Hardlight VR CEO and co-inventor Lucian Copeland issued a statement on the company’s Kickstarter page, saying there are “no options left to us but straightforward closure.”

The company’s Kickstarter, which successfully concluded in March 2017, garnered $147,574 from over 300 backers to bring the project to life. Although suffering several shipping delays due to manufacturing, Hardlight VR concluded last month that more than 95 percent of the suits ordered through the Kickstarter have been shipped.

The company’s wireless add-on, the result of a stretch goal, isn’t shipping however due to the lack of funds and a “crippling software issue outside of our control” that forced project creators to redesign the module late in its development. “What we’d expected to be a ~10k project turned out to be $18,451 in development costs alone, 104% of the project earnings without any production done,” Copeland explains, referring to the wireless module.

Image courtesy Hardlight VR

All of this comes with the revelation that Hardlight VR has been working full-time without pay for the last 9 months, searching for additional fundraising and acquisition offers.

Late last year, Road to VR’s Michael Glombicki visited Hardlight’s Seattle offices, where he tried the Mark III version of the haptic vest and even got a look at some of the upcoming research the company was doing, including a ‘butt-kicker’ solenoid for stronger impacts, and a thermoelectric plate that can cool and heat up on demand—all areas of research the company hoped would make it into successive versions of the vest.

The company has published a cost breakdown in their post mortem report, which concludes that manufacturing the Hardlight vest took over 138% of our actual raise amount after deducting credit card processing fees and Kickstarter’s percentage, and that an additional $59,013 required to fulfill orders was obtained from both traditionally fundraised capital and money from family, friends, and their own personal savings.

“While we still love the idea of haptics in VR, it’s clear that the VR industry is moving far slower than we expected, and we have been unable to make our product or our company sustainable,” Copeland says. “Thank you all for your help in making the Hardlight a reality, if a short lived one – I’m sorry we could not bring a more successful close to this project.”

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  • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

    Nobody wants to come home from work and dress up in that lot, to play a game. Hell, I don’t even want to stand up to play games. Both the Wii and Kinect tried to get the masses up on their feet. They failed.

    • I agree i only play seated and love it

      • impurekind

        I’ll be honest: You’re missing out on a lot of genuinely great experiences by being that narrow in your gaming. And I mean genuinely great: Wii Sports Bowling was/is brilliant, Beat Saber is brilliant, Superhot VR is brilliant, etc.

        • I am sure they are all great games but those games don’t interest me. But i want as many people to enjoy vr I don’t care how they are playing it.

      • ummm…

        ok well you are making me sad. you can only be bothered to move your head. great. glad we invented vr for you.

        • They invented Vr for everyone it up to us to decide how we enjoy in. I enjoy it seated with thumb stick locomotion. U can do it how ever u want to

          • ummm…

            yes technically you are 100 percent correct.

    • Jordan_c

      Apparently their backers wanted to…

      By the way. The OG Wii was Nintendo’s best selling console until the Switch. So, I’d hardly call it a failure.

      • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

        The best Wii game was Super Mario Galaxy Jordan. A game that doesn’t require the player to stand.

        • Jordan_c

          That still doesn’t support any of your statements.

          • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

            Yes, it does. The best games for the Wii were seated experiences. Because nobody wants to come home from work, shower, have something to eat and stand up to play games.

          • MosBen

            How are you defining best? On my Wii the most played game by a ridiculous margin was Wii Sports, with Warioware and other party games getting plenty of play. I didn’t finish either Twilight Princess or Mario Galaxy.

        • Thong Phan

          https://www.ranker.com/list/the-best-selling-wii-games/r20x
          5 of the top 10 best selling Wii games were motion-based (aka standing). Motion controls were pretty much what sold the system. Just because the “best” games are seated, that doesn’t mean most people didn’t buy it for the novelty of motion controls.

        • Luke

          the most big killer application was wii sport

      • ummm…

        jordan dont listen to these people. i bought a wii, twice. i loved it. some people are just fat and lazy….but they werent really the target market. its amazing to see people with this line of reasoning on a vr website.

    • impurekind

      Well, the Wii didn’t fail: It’s one of the highest selling console of all time, ever. But, yeah, people don’t generally want to put in some much time and energy into playing games all the time, so this kind of thing really needs to be really simple and cheap, such that you might use it once in a while of you can be bothered going the extra mile, but it’s not something you need to even think about the vast majority of the time.

      • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

        I didn’t say the Wii failed impurekind. Nintendo and Microsoft both created gameplay experiences that required the player(s) to stand. And that is where they both failed.

        • impurekind

          Well, correcting for me not quite reading your post properly first time, I still wouldn’t say it failed in terms of getting people on their feet. Wii Sports sold over 82 millions units, which is very close to being the highest selling individual game of all time. And titles like Wii Fit and Let’s Dance were hugely popular and successful too. Just Dance is STILL seeing new releases with each new version of the game on Wii (such is its ongoing popularity)–that’s definitely NOT failing to get people on their feet.

        • ummm…

          WRONG. thats why it succeeded. you are really annoying me. im tired of talking about lazy fat people. i dont care what the think. and judging by vr and wii popularity i dont have to. i had a wii and i have a vive. the market works for me. go eat a burger. you prove nothing.

          • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

            Do you like to watch films while standing?

          • ummm…

            hahah i was being quite a weewee, but my point stands (no pun intended)…vr/roomscale is for people that move. vr – sitting – does not push the market. It is the base use for vr. Im a sim racer. i love it. i prob spend more time sitting than standing. but i didnt spend thousands of dollars so i can sit with a screen on my face. also why i bought a vive at launch and not an oculus.

    • ummm…

      i hear ya. i didnt even want to wake up to play games……………..

    • mirak

      I don’t know where you got that the Wii was not a success because it was.
      People who don’t play video games because it’s too passive, liked it.

      Now Nintendo certainly failed to push further by immersing people in vr.

      But all I can tell is that after playing Pavlov a lot, it’s so frustrating to go back to a game like GTA V.

  • MosBen

    Unfortunately, this is the part of the timeline that we’re in. There was an over exuberance for VR a few years ago, and now we’re in the period where the smaller companies who don’t have stable funding aren’t able to get their products to market or sell them in quantities necessary to sustain them, and they close. The bigger players will ride this out with cash reserves or income from other areas of the company, and keep working on improving their products. Hopefully they’ll reach a point where the tech matures to the point that it attracts a mass audience and the industry will expand again.

    • R FC

      Very good points, and something I witnessed first hand here in London.

      Consultancy work came to a conclusion after our client pivoted away from VR towards AI. Currently, very little money in VR, but plenty of VC money for startups and consultancies working in AI, Deep Learning, etc.

      Our R&D is now focused in other areas, although keeping a close eye on VR as its a big passion since early 90’s ;)

    • Lucidfeuer

      Oh really??

      • MosBen

        Yes?

      • Forbidden

        Wow look! A millennial know it all here!

    • brubble

      You don’t say? Are you for real?

      Let me simplify your painfully long winded snore worthy business 101….

      Market slows, small unestablished business folds. Big established business survives, carries torch. Market expands, small businesses return.

      • MosBen

        Long-winded? That’s 106 words; less than a tweet. Sorry that it was such a struggle for you.

        • Forbidden

          You nailed it in your comment bro. Haters like brubble will hate!

  • impurekind

    It’s a product that doesn’t really have a market. The amount of people that could really be bothered getting dressed up in all this stuff is likely tiny. The amount it adds to the experience at this point in time is probably not worth the hassle bother with after giving it a go out of curiosity. Although, it’s possible there’s a market in the big VR arcades and those Void experiences for a vest like this, but they probably already have their own solutions. So this was likely more a case of creating a problem to solve a problem for a market that simply isn’t there right now.

  • airball

    On the wireless module, a hardware project with a 10k budget? Can anything meaningful be done in this space with 10k? That sounds woefully underestimated.

  • Craig Corlis

    There is a DIY thread going around to make the suit wireless for ~$60, in case anyone has stopped reading the KS comments but sees this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7I5onJE3AE

    • RobawesomeVR

      Hey, that’s me! It was very easy to do, instructions are in the video description.

  • Paul Schuyler

    Tragically ironic company name. It was HARD, but eventually they saw the LIGHT. Hey hats off for trying though. Maybe revitalize the idea in 10 years.

  • MarquisDeSang

    They put haptic feedback everywhere but where we need it —> On our dick

  • Roger Bentley

    First the piece of shit ossics x now this smhhhhh.

  • Taro Sado

    What ? They got bankrupt? I just receive my suit today

    • Yep. Got mine a few weeks ago…

      • Taro Sado

        Well at least they delivered first not like the other who suddenly disappeared without trace.

        • Well you lucky because i didn’t get it and i haven’t received 1 email from the company since i bought it in March/April… I guess i’m part of the 5% who didn’t get it… Some people are out of 700$ , funny how the company don’t speak about those who never got it.

          • Taro Sado

            I think my order was around late june , you are right I guess I am lucky to receive my order.

  • So sad for it, even if kickstarter campaigns for hardware should raise way more money than what they actually ask for

  • Aldric Chang

    You guys are honorable and good guys. Good luck with your future endeavors!

    • No so sure…. Still waiting for a suit or reimbursement … and i doubt i will receive any of that…